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Indiawood 2020
22 - 26 February 2024 | BIEC, Bengaluru, India
International Trade Fair for Furniture Production Technologies, Woodworking Machinery, Tools, Fittings, Accessories, Raw Materials and Products

From forest to marketplace

Image Credit: Schauman Nordgren Architects

A growing number of public projects prominently feature wood. One such example can be found in Turku, Finland, where the marketplace’s new pavilions made from Westas’s sawn timber offer shelter and a meeting place for the city’s residents.

During the massive revamping of the marketplace area in Turku, which began in 2018, three imposing pavilions were built along the marketplace’s edges, replacing the old kiosks. Kimmo Suonpää, Director of Urban Construction for the City of Turku, explains that the purpose of the pavilions is to function as a foundation for and maintainer of the marketplace’s operations and service offering.

The marketplace featured services before the new marketplace was built, which we wanted to preserve and also strengthen to some extent. It was natural to establish other functions serving the marketplace’s and marketplace parking facilities’ users alongside the pavilions, such as public bathrooms and accessible connections between the marketplace and the underground parking, and to add elements that support the public transport services, Suonpää explains.

The marketplace pavilions’ location is significant from a cityscape perspective, which is why such high criteria were place on their appearance. A key element of the design was creating a stunning wooden facade, whose material was perfectly in line with the city’s target of achieving carbon neutrality by the end of 2029.

Wood material is one of the key solutions when the goal is the best overall economy and a solution that offers the best fit with the cityscape and carbon neutrality target.

The general construction policies of the City of Turku favour wood construction and also take into consideration the Ministry of the Environment’s recommendations that 31% of new public buildings consist of wood by 2022. Currently, the city is looking for a new site for wood construction as a continuation of the Linnanfält residential area built through the Modern Wooden Town project.

Turku is also committed to the Government Programme’s items concerning the promotion of wood construction, and the decision by the mayors of the six largest cities, who announced in 2017 that wood construction would increase in their cities. Therefore, wood construction will be an integral part of Turku’s present and future, the Director of Urban Construction points out.

Photographed by Jussi Vierimaa

Puzzle with almost 2,500 pieces

The Turku-based company Late-Rakenteet Oy was chosen as the manufacturer for the pavilions’ wooden parts. The company has a long history of manufacturing demanding glue-laminated structures. The manufacturing of parts was begun in August 2020 and the work continued all the way to March 2021.

The delivery was massive and complicated. At least 233 different kinds of arches were made, 1,028 pieces all in all. There were 1,411 straight pieces, consisting of 74 different kinds.

At first it was challenging to manufacture the little and small-radius arches, until we found the right shape for the arch, explains Marko Lehtonen, the Managing Director of Late-Rakenteet Oy.

All of the 22 x 125 mm and 38 x 125 mm spruce timber used as the raw material for the arches came from Westas – a total of 300 m3 of sawn timber.

Final assembly took place at the worksite. The finished pieces were delivered in several instalments between August 2020 and April 2021.

Growing popularity of wood

The pavilions were designed by Schauman Arkkitehdit and Schauman & Nordgren Architects. Architect Ted Schauman explains that the pavilions were inspired by wood – the structure of wood and the spatial considerations.

Image Credit: Schauman Nordgren Architects

The pavilions rise up from the ground like tree trunks and provide cover like the crown of a tree. Our architectural objective was to create inviting and protected spaces on the open marketplace – enticing meeting places for city dwellers, both indoors and outdoors, Schauman says.

From an architect’s point of view, wood is an extremely multidimensional material that has many different applications.

Wood is a warm and approachable material. As a renewable natural resource it is a natural go-to in sustainable construction. The greatest hindrance to wood construction is, however, construction culture, which has traditionally favoured concrete. The change in the culture is slow.

The construction culture is apparent in, for example, the lagging behind of regulation: Local fire regulations have limited the increasing use of wood especially in large-scale projects. One obstacle that prevents wood from being more widely used is the material’s cost competitiveness and the limited offering of processed wood products. Nevertheless, Schauman believes that costs will level out and the supply will become more varied as a natural consequence of growing demand.

Sustainable development and low-carbon construction create pressure for the construction industry to boost the use of wood. We have also experienced an increase in requests to use wood, in both the private and public sectors.

To know more about the place and structure, please visit: https://ah.turku.fi/kh/2018/0820018x /Images/1606173.pdf

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