Competence in wood architecture the result of long-term efforts

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"You can build almost anything out of wood nowadays,” said Director of Studies Pekka Heikkinen of the Helsinki University of Technology’s Department of Architecture in his speech at the University of Helsinki’s international seminar Climate Change and the Environmental Performance of Wood on 18 October 2007. "Up to the beginning of the 1990s, the knowledge required to build wooden houses had largely been forgotten, but now wooden multi-storey buildings, churches, bridges, concert halls and office buildings have been erected around Finland. International architectural publications are also full of feature storeys about Finnish wood buildings.”    

The enormous rise in the status of wood architecture has required numerous campaigns, technology programmes and R & D efforts as well as plenty of teaching and planning work.

The results of teaching and research are quite slow to emerge, however, and they are difficult to measure. Wood architecture students who graduated in 1994 are now beginning to reach the career stage in which their decisions have a real influence on building.

"Construction is a team effort and there’s still room for improvement in this,” Heikkinen points out. "The boundaries separating different training programmes need to be transgressed. A deeper understanding of engineering and business is a significant opportunity that enables architects to make creative and groundbreaking solutions.”

Teaching should be focused on, but learning by doing and acting as part of a team also effectively develop the abilities required in practical design work.