Accepted paper:

Solar collectors, heritage buildings, and the altering of private and public space


Annette Henning (Dalarna University)

Paper short abstract:

Dwellers in the World Heritage town of Visby claim their right to place solar collectors on their roofs. The paper discusses differing perspectives on two national interests; the preservation of historic buildings, and the shift towards more energy efficient heating systems and renewable energies.

Paper long abstract:

The paper is based on a case study in Visby, a walled Hanseatic town and World Heritage Site on the island of Gotland, Sweden. This well-kept town, with streets and buildings dating back to mediaeval times, is still fully alive with dwellers, shops, restaurants and working-places. One background to this project is the fact that, until recently, historic buildings have been more or less excepted from energy efficiency regulations. However, due to an increasing deterioration or insensitive renovation of this heritage, the Swedish Government has decided to change this state of affair. A basic purpose of the presented research has been to investigate the congruity of two Swedish national interests; the one being preservation of historic buildings, the other a shift towards more energy efficient heating systems and renewable energies. A particular focus has been on disagreements concerning the appropriateness of situating solar collectors on heritage buildings. Anthropological methods were used to investigate varying ways of perceiving historic buildings used as homes, and solar energy as a possible heating solution for such homes. Varying ways of balancing change and preservation of these dwellings depend on professional training as well as perceptions of aesthetics and convenience. They are influenced by a building's educational and illustrative power or by its function as a dwelling. The discussions link differing opinions on solar collectors and buildings to vague or overlapping boundaries between private and public space; in terms of geography as well as ownership, responsibility, and economic, political and statutory power.

panel W050
Uncertain futures: the cultural dynamics of energy transition