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Finnish wood architecture has long traditions and a bright future

A close-up photo of a curved glass wall with an entrance, evening light.

Anttinen Oiva Architects, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

High-quality architecture raises interest in wood construction, which supports Finland’s carbon neutrality targets. The new Future Finland Built of Wood information package presents wood architecture from the 2020s and tells about the tradition and future of Finnish wood construction.

The State of Finland has been promoting wood construction since the 1990s. The current Wood Building Programme, which focused on urban development, public buildings and the development of public demand, has done its job, and new promotional actions are now being considered. 

Wood is Finland’s traditional building material, and the Finnish know-how in wood construction has great international potential. The future of wood construction is based on responsible forestry. Digitalisation extending from processes to production and industrial prefabrication is paving the way for wood architecture. In these areas, Finland is a pioneering country.

Promoting wood construction is one of the key measures in achieving Finland's ambitious carbon neutrality goals. Sustainable consumption and production are the premises for climate change mitigation.

“We must reduce consumption at the global level. In construction, the use of renewable and recyclable building materials must be promoted. The use of wood has a positive impact on the environment, and the role of the circular economy will also grow”, estimates Petri Heino, the programme manager of the Ministry of the Environment’s Wood Building Programme 2016–2023.

“The wood used in a building will absorb carbon at least for the entire building life cycle. New forest replacing trees felled at the right age is a more effective carbon sink than an old forest that is no longer growing. Of course, also forest protection is important for reasons such as maintaining biodiversity”, Heino continues.

Finnish wood architecture in the 2020s utilises digitalisation and industrial processes but also incorporates traditional timber construction methods. Together with the Wood Building Programme, Archinfo compiled an information package including 19 contemporary wood architecture examples with different uses and scales from around Finland.

The selection comprises projects from small-scale structures and cabins in nature to large public buildings, and from housing and office buildings to wooden neighbourhoods. The projects were chosen by architect and journalist Tarja Nurmi, together with Archinfo. Nurmi has also written the project presentations as well as an article in the context of contemporary wood architecture.

In their article, Laura Berger and Netta Böök, researchers of the history of architecture and experts in the tradition of wood construction, explain how wood construction has transformed from a basic everyday skill mastered by all to industrial innovations and state-level export efforts by the mid-1900s.

The future prospects of wood construction in Finland are looked into in an article by Archinfo’s head of communications, architect Miina Jutila, who has been responsible for compiling the information package. In addition to Finnish and English, the texts are also published in Swedish and German, and the projects are included in the Finnish Architecture Navigator web service provided by Archinfo.

Link to the Future Finland Built of Wood information package
Link to Finnish Architecture Navigator

The information package aims to make Finnish wood architecture and know-how known internationally and to give background information to media interested in the subject. When publishing entire articles, permission needs to be requested from the authors.

  • Finnish-Russian School, Helsinki 2021 (AFKS Architects)
  • Monio High School and Community Centre, Tuusula 2023 (AOR Architects)
  • Helsinki School of Natural Sciences 2023 (AFKS Architects
  • Satama Areena, Kotka 2023 (ALA Architects)
  • Wood City, Helsinki 2019–2024 (Anttinen Oiva Architects)
  • Katajanokan Laituri, Helsinki 2024 (Anttinen Oiva Architects)
  • Serlachius Museum Gösta & Art Sauna, Mänttä 2015, 2022 (Mendoza Partida & BAX)
  • Sauna-Restaurant Kiulu & Ähtäri Swimming Pool, Ähtäri 2022, 2024 (Studio Puisto)
  • Little Finlandia, Helsinki 2022 (Jaakko Torvinen, Havu Järvelä, Elli Wendelin)
  • Rauhalinna, Savonlinna 2023 (OOPEAA)
  • Lammassaari accessible path, Helsinki 2017, 2022 (Studio Puisto & Nomaji)
  • Filmmaker's Hut, Iisalmi 2020 (Pirinen & Salo)
  • Space of Mind, 2020 (Studio Puisto)
  • House Meteorite, Kontiolahti 2020 (Ateljé Sotamaa)
  • Semi-detached housing in Viikinmäki, Helsinki 2022 (Kanttia 2 Architects)
  • Puu-Myllypuro, Helsinki (APRT Architects & City of Helsinki)
  • Linnanfältti, Turku (City of Turku & Schauman Architects, Sigge Architects, Casagrande Architects, Tommy Gustafsson Architects)