Qvidja has been used as a farm for centuries. As is typical for a living environment, its buildings have been renewed and they have been added to over the years. The buildings are versatile and constructed for different purposes in different times. Based on their functions, they form their own yard areas: the courtyard of the castle, a housekeeping yard, a grain yard and workers’ residential yards.
The oldest surviving building in the area is a stone castle that dates from the 15th century. However, the remains of an ancient pier were also discovered on the estate, which means that people lived and constructed buildings there as early as the 6th century. Over the centuries, buildings have also disappeared from the yard: the newer buildings are included in old archives and building inventories, but the older buildings were not known until archaeological excavations took place.
In 2015, Qvidja was the subject of a building history report created by the Saatsi Arkkitehdit architect firm. The building history report contains more detailed information about Qvidja’s buildings and history.
There is a greystone castle on the eastern side of Qvidja’s yard. Its first construction phase was carried out in the 1470s, and two more floors were added in the 16th century.
The main part of the castle has three floors and its southern side has a two-floor cross wing. According to C. J. Gardberg, who was familiar with the construction history of the castle and later appointed as the director of the National Board of Antiquities, the castle is the best preserved Finnish stone building that dates from the late Middle ages and 16th century.
It is assumed that the Qvidja castle was used for defence purposes, a typical function for all Medieval castles. The openings on the facade are mainly directed toward the courtyard.
When the castle was renovated in the 16th century, an open stairwell and a castle lounge were added in the main area on the lower floor and two chambers were added in the cross wing. The upper floor was constructed using the same layout, which resulted in a banquet hall in the main area and chambers in the cross wing. On the inside, the walls were layered with bricks and each room was equipped with an open fireplace.
The windows of the halls opened toward several directions. The decorative paintings on the walls and ceiling beams are assumed to have been carried out when the premises were renovated for Gustav I of Sweden, who visited the farm in 1555.
At the end of the 17th century, the castle was no longer used as the main residence, so it became deteriorated. Toward the end of the 18th century, the castle was renovated and converted into a granary, which was its purpose until the middle of the 20th century. As the castle was used as a granary, it made the castle purposeful, which is one of the reasons it survives till today.
In the 1990s, the plastering on the facade of the building was repaired, the indoor grain silos were taken down and a partition was added on the top floor so it could be used as storage. The interior areas were cleaned, furnished and implemented as part-time banquet premises.
Qvidja’s main building stands opposite the castle on the west side of the yard. The building, made of timber, was constructed in phases: cellar, the oldest part, possibly dates from the 16th century – the same time the upper floors of the castle were built. The residential floor above the cellars was constructed no later than the beginning of the 19th century. The house was given the status of the main building no later than the 19th century, when Anders Johan Prytz’s widow, Hedvig Maria, managed the estate.
There is a more recent and bigger wing constructed in the east-west direction at the northern end of the older wing, which is in the south-north direction. Both have been constructed on top of a natural stone base using timber with dovetail notches, after which the timber was hidden by a panel and covered with a saddle roof. In the inner corner of the newer and older parts is a long and broad porch, built in the 1860s.
The main building has been expanded, repaired and changed over several centuries. Several layers are visible in each space. Most construction methods can be described as the most progressive of their time.
Nowadays, the main building houses Qvidja’s office.
The small building by the castle currently houses a chapel. Previously, the building was used as a brewery and a workshop.
The building is mentioned in the first known inventory of Qvidja, compiled in 1683. The owner of the estate at that time, Carl Falkenberg af Trystorp, had it constructed as a brewery and the building served in this capacity at least until the 1750s. There is a giant’s kettle next to the building, so it is possible that the location was selected for that reason: the giant’s kettle provided for a suitable place to keep brewery products chilled.
The brewery was converted into a workshop in the 19th century, presumably in the 1860s, when new owners took over Qvidja.
Alexander Vilhelm and Margareta af Heurlin had the workshop converted into a chapel in the beginning of the 1930s. The design work was carried out by national archaeologist and professor Juhani Rinne. The forge was dismantled, the brick floor was replaced and the walls were cleaned, whitewashed and decorated with Medieval-themed paintings.
The paintings were designed by conservator Oskari Niemi. The bushings of the oak panel covered front door as well as the iron gates behind them were made by a company called Kaune, based in Turku. The benches were commissioned in Turku using the manor’s own timber and the cross on the altar was carved by Ernst Zachrisson, who used to live at Qvidja. The copper and brass mesh on top of the stove was made by Qvidja’s blacksmith, Georg Ottosson, in 1933.
At times, the Finnish-speaking parish of Länsi-Turunmaa arranges masses in the chapel. Its benches seat comfortably approximately 30 people.
In addition to the main building, there are three residential buildings in the courtyard. The gardener’s house dates from the 1890s and it was constructed using wood from the manor’s own steam-powered sawmill. The Yellow Villa, which was originally built as a milk processing plant in the 1880s, was converted into a residential building in the 1930s. The steward’s house, dating from the 1870s, is located a short distance from the other buildings.
Skepparbacken, located to the southwest from the courtyard, was initially constructed as workers’ residence in the middle of the 19th century, when the bakehouse and a building located in the place of the current Algot house were constructed. The other current residential buildings were constructed in the 1910s and 1920s: Samppalinna, Bailiff’s House, the Grankulla residential building and Järvelä.
The most easily identifiable building of Kvarnbacken, or “Mill Hill”, was a windmill, which was burned down in the 1930s. The buildings in the area were mainly used for the processing and storing of grains. Hönsbacken, presumably constructed in the 1870s as a drying barn, was converted into a residential building in the 1920s.
Until the 1920s, the primary connection to the mainland ran through the northern shore of Lemlahti. In addition to travelling and the delivery of goods, the shore has been used actively as a fishing port and workers’ washing, swimming and residential area. Also, starting from the end of the 19th century, it was also used as the owners’ chosen environment for leisure activities. In 1919, a cemetery for the af Heurlin family was completed near the shore. Armola, a residential building on the shore, was probably constructed initially as the manor folks’ bathing house in 1909.
The Råbäck plot derives its name from a crofter, Henrik Råbäck. The plot was marked on the map in 1905, and the timber house located on the plot was probably built in the 1920s.
Renewable energy is generated and utilised at Qvidja. The farm’s energy facility comprises four units: woodchip-powered heat generation unit, biogas unit, wood gas unit and a biomethanisation unit. All units were completed in 2017.
The woodchip-powered heat generation unit produces heat, which is used to heat up the biomethanisation unit, among others. This is where Qvidja’s main product, biomethane, is made. Modern reactors are used to house microbes that, after producing methane for thousands of years in the bog, are now converting carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methane, which can be used as transport fuel. The production and reactor-related sales of biomethane are handled by the Qvidja Kraft company [link].
The hydrogen needed by the reactor comes from the coal gas generated in the wood gas unit. The biogas unit can utilise organic waste resulting from farm operations. Organic waste, such as fish waste, also arrives from outside of the farm. The carbon dioxide of biogas is also used as an ingredient in methane production.
The brick-built cowhouse is one of the renovations that Wolmar and Wilhelm af Heurlin set out to complete when they acquired the estate in the 1860s. The building is located in the east-west direction on a hillside sloping north. The northern wall rests on a tall stone base made of natural stone, behind which manure was stored throughout the length of the building.
The building, which spans nearly 60 meters, could only be heated in the eastern end, which was furnished as a stable. The larger space in the west end was reserved for cattle. The boiling house and the milk room were built in the new southern wing in the 1910s or 1920s, which is when only dairy cattle were kept in the building. The low-rise wing was later used as a stable.
Now, the cowhouse has been renovated and it is a loose housing area for the farm’s horses. Horses are naturally herd animals and they have been divided into group pens in the stable, allowing them to move freely to the paddock and back again. At Qvidja, manure is utilised for energy and as a fertiliser.
A workshop, built in the change of the 18th and 19th centuries using natural stone and bricks, stands on Qvidja’s housekeeping yard area. The building still houses a carpenter’s shop, where furniture, doors and windows for the manor were made. The building was converted into a carpenter’s and forger’s workshop presumably in the beginning of the 1930s, when the previous workshop was converted into a chapel.
Traditionally, manors were first to receive new plants for cultivation and gardening. Later, these plants found their way to nearby farms.
In the 18th century, Qvidja was owned and rehabilitated by Lars Henrik von Mell, a pharmacist who was interested in gardening and medicinal plants. Among other things, von Mell commissioned a large orchard at Qvidja.
Tarragon and other southern herbs have been grown in Qvidja’s herb garden. Hop was grown for the estate’s own use. At first, the greenhouses were used to grow vegetables for sale, and later to grow grapes and tomatoes for the estate’s own use. The greenhouses have been demolished since then. Several old broad-leaved trees can be found on the estate.
Qvidja’s greeneries are also restored in order to take biodiversity into account. The right combinations of plants attract pollinators and butterflies as well as support soil activity.