The City of Espoo and Aalto University strongly committed to promoting wood construction

Aalto University, the Ministry of Employment and the City of Espoo are working together to develop wood construction. The aim is to combine science, technology, design and architecture with the energy-efficient construction of the future.

Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of Espoo, compares the project to the construction of the Tapiola garden city. The object of that was also the construction to the future and something very new, both architecturally and from a point of view of sustainable development," says Mäkelä. ”Now we must ask how the solutions of that time can be ecologically carried out using present-day technology. We are developing a garden city and innovation cluster for the new decade, the building of which should be a model for future construction. We already have good experiences of combining multi-storey city centres and residential house districts, and it works,” says Mäkelä.

In this co-operative project, we are setting joint targets between the City of Espoo, Aalto University, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the region's companies, and these targets combine the interests of the different participants. The area offers wood construction vantage points and opportunities, which can be utilised in teaching, research, business and living. As a result of the project, the region will form a diverse showcase for wood construction and wood expertise.

Modern wood construction developed co-operatively

Mäkelä wants all parties to get involved in the Aalto project. “In that way, we can get the sector’s latest expertise, information and research to serve wood construction. Our way of operating in this project involves doing things together with partners.” According to Mäkelä, the T3 project is something developed by the districts of Tapiola, Keilaniemi and Otaniemi, based on the compatibility of science, art and economics. Through co-operation, it will be possible to develop modern Finnish wood construction and its related multi-disciplinary expertise by combining wood architecture, high-class design, resource- and energy-efficiency, demand- and user-centred innovation and effective commercialisation and marketing.

Espoo’s future as a digi-eco-city

Mäkelä says that, through the T3 co-operation, the city also wants to be energy-efficient and a pioneer in sustainable development. The road to achieving all this is long, but the objectives are based on set values for sustainable construction, says Mäkelä. “The City of Espoo is an entire research laboratory, in which it is also possible to study the cost-effectiveness of the organisation of services. City planning must be far-sighted, so that living, construction and traffic can all work together efficiently and ecologically. From a research perspective, this is also an interesting, living research platform,” says Mäkelä.

”We want the T3 area to be a research and development-oriented, stimulating and safe business and residential environment for both national and international companies and organisations. I am convinced that, through long-term co-operation, we can learn get R&D to serve the aims of sustainable development,” says Mäkelä.

”Within the framework of the project, the area will also receive private production in addition to public construction. In future, it could also be possible to build entire residential areas, the identity of which will rest strongly on the use of wood,” says Mäkelä. ”Espoo will become a true centre of expertise in wood construction and a significant pioneer of it. The co-operation now concluded will generate both research knowledge and new business,” predicts Mäkelä.

The aims of sustainable development in construction

The city of Espoo is already displaying evidence of its promotion of wood construction. ”We have Metsä Wood’s wooden head office, the Haltia Centre is rising and strong ecological targets have been set for construction in the Suurpelto district, where there are also opportunities for wood construction. In construction, we are aiming to ensure that ecology and economics go hand-in-hand, says Mäkelä. We have set very high targets for sustainable development, and are aiming to be a pioneer in that field. Our proximity to nature sets us an obligation to look forward in the construction of infrastructure, how we find new ways of operating and how we respond to the challenge of sustainable development. Wood construction is part of this objective.”

In the future, Mäkelä sees major possibilities in the development of the area bordering Nuuksio, from a perspective of urban structure and housing policy. ”We believe that, sometime in the future, nearby Hista will be on a rail traffic route, and it is just a matter of time when construction will begin there. The development of this area will take account of the compatibility of Nuuksio National Park and future settlements. The area could become a real model for future construction, which could derive its energy from the nearby Ämmänsuo waste disposal site,” predicts Mäkelä.

”Here there are great opportunities for large-scale wood construction, he says. The Haltia Centre is already being constructed from wood, and will become a significant showcase for wood construction for both domestic and international visitors. In Espoo, we want to be a digi-eco-city of the future based on a strong economic operating environment, and to build the future on the basis of the principles of the information society and sustainable development.

Puuinfo article service/Markku Laukkanen

More information:
Mayor of Espoo, Jukka Mäkelä,
Business specialist, Pasi Laitala, the City of Espoo, tel. +358 (0)43 824 5427,