Adaptable wooden buildings of the future

The Urban Adaptation competition, hosted by Finnish wood manufacturer MetsäWood, Aalto University and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, challenged architects and students from around the world to design an innovative modular wood design for a public building or a building system that easily adapts to the changing needs of the community. 

According to the organisers, too often, buildings are static and focus solely on the current needs of the community. When cities grow and the need of the community changes, buildings that cannot adapt become a problem.

The Urban Adaptation competition aims to find solutions that show how modular construction using engineered wood like CLT (cross laminated timber) and LVL (laminated veneer lumber) enables adaptable, sustainable and cost-competitive construction.

First place: S M L XL
Monitoimipuutalo (literally in Finnish “multifunction wooden building”) is a new community centre located at the intersection of three neighbourhoods. It is inspired by 19th and older century apartment blocks combined with Modernistic segregation of functions.

The building will be built using a multipurpose system called S M L XL, that incorporates four different floor heights. This allows for different spaces to be optimised for hosting various functions. The smallest size is suitable as housing, whilst the largest can be used for sport and leisure. The wooden structure’s design combines load-bearing GLVL beams and columns, CLT or LVL panels and Kerto-Ripa® elements.

Second place: Zerno
Zerno (meaning in Russian a seed of a plant) was inspired by the lifecycle of a dandelion. In the first stage, “germination”, the body is transported to the chosen location and installed on special screw piles that have been prepared in advance. During this stage, the ZERNO will serve as attraction for tourists, and present abandoned location drawing attention to it.

The second “pollination” stage needs at least four people to turn the wheel to activate the mechanical system to open Zerno. Each of 4 petals are the part of general community centre, all materials that will be required for construction premises of community centre, can be kept in the empty spaces between load bearing beams of the petals.

Once the first four houses are built, a windmill will be placed, providing energy and announcing the next phase, “generation”.

After about 70 years, the materials will be worn out and leaves the final stage “redemption”. The materials, mostly wood, will be recycled.

Third place: ModuRot
This design accommodates various functions within itself, but also allows adaptation over time, Using a modular wooden construction technique, necessary volumes are created by rotating a simple initial module. Repetition and combination of the same module in various rotations allows creating the structure of interior and exterior volumes, façades and the roof. The rotation creates inclined surfaces for the roof to increase climate resilience, angled balconies in the upper floors to give visual connections to city life and a welcoming entrance in the ground floor facade in order to strengthen the relationship between the building and the main street in ground level.

Want to know more about the adaptability of wooden buildings? Check out MaterialDistrict’s book Tomorrow’s Timber!

Images via MetsäWood