From Silicon Valley to Wood Valley – the future is ours to make

“I t’s like Silicon Valley here,” says Ulla-Maaria Koivula when describing what’s going on in wood construction in Northern Karelia. And, she should know having moved from California to Finland last year. With the insight of someone who runs a global IT company and is a CLT construction innovator.

Ulla-Maaria’s comment hits the nail on the head. North Karelia’s latest claim to innovation fame is from the end of September, when the region took a double victory in an idea competition for wood bridges on private roads. Teacher Timo Pakarinen from the Karelia University of Applied Sciences says that wood construction R&D and innovation really kicked off with the Pihapetäjä project (North Karelia’s first wooden apartment building), which brought together the region’s operators, created unprecedented trust between them, and instilled a belief in a glorious future. In this issue, the Karelia University of Applied Sciences presents a research project on facade themes from the “Meteorite” house case.

Pirkanmaa is another major development centre. The graduate school of wood construction at Tampere University is off to a good start. The inter-disciplinary cooperation is already producing measures for improving the competitiveness of wood construction and increasing productivity. Research indicates that people are already willing to pay more for wooden apartment buildings than for conventional ones in the same area.

Finland seems to be filled with wood construction hubs. In addition to Tampere, Joensuu and smaller municipalities, the City of Helsinki is, perhaps surprisingly, a major promoter of wood construction through its Re-thinking Urban Housing program. The program is a city platform for innovator-builders that provides an apartment building plot from the city for projects initiated through the program.

Any other good news for developers? The Finnish Ministry of the Environment’s funding programs for wood construction have been criticised for their small size. As the program nears its end however, these smaller creeks have merged with other streams to enable substantial financing for projects. There are little sources of money here and there – you might want to Google “City of Helsinki Innovation Fund”, for example. Investors and financial institutions are also promoting sustainable construction.

We should go with the flow while the moment is here. We also need to make more noise about development. The advantage in this industry is that we know each other and innovators find connections. Wood magazine aims to increase awareness of developments in wood construction, to highlight accomplishments in the field, and to increase its attractiveness among young students. Enjoy this latest issue of Wood magazine!

Text: Anu Turunen, Project manager, Puuinfo

Read the article in Finnish: Piilaaksosta puulaaksoon – täällä tehdään tulevaisuutta