The Puukuokka Housing Block designed by Anssi Lassila / OOPEAA has been selected winner of the Wood Prize  2015.

The Wood Prize is awarded annually as a sign of recognition to a building, interior or structure that represents Finnish wood architecture of the highest quality or in which wood has been applied in a way that advances research and development in construction techniques in a significant way. The prize was given out for the first time in 1994 and it is now awarded for the 18th time. The prize is awarded by the Wood Information Center Finland. 

Nine projects were nominated for the shortlist for consideration for the prize. Among them were three multistory wooden apartment buildings and a six other wooden buildings. The multistory apartment buildings were especially recognized for their innovative value in using wood on the scale of apartment buildings and developing new solutions for the application of wood in construction. All of the nine projects nominated for the shortlist were deemed to present examples of skillfully designed wooden buildings.

Completed in November 2014, Puukuokka is the first eight-storey high wooden apartment building in Finland. It explores the potential of modular prefabricated CLT construction to meet the goal of providing high quality, environmentally responsible and affordable housing. Commissioned and built by Lakea, it is an energy-efficient trio of multi-story wood-framed flats in the Jyväskylä suburb of Kuokkala. Puukuokka is composed of prefabricated volumetric modules made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) provided by Stora Enso, who is also responsible for the structural engineering of the CLT modules. JVR Rakenne has served as the prime contractor. The town plan created in collaboration with the City of Jyväskylä has been tailored to meet the needs of the building complex. Puukuokka pilots an innovative lease-to-own financing strategy that aims to support social sustainability by promoting stable communities.

In Puukuokka, the goal was to find a solution that makes the best possible use of the technical and aesthetic qualities of CLT and to create a wooden building in large scale with a distinct architectonic expression of its own. The goal was to create a hybrid building that combines the sense of privacy of a single-family dwelling and the semi-public character of the shared spaces of an apartment building. The vision is to provide the residents with a functional space rich in experiential qualities.

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The Puukuokka project served as a pilot case to develop and test a CLT based system of volumetric modules. Working with CLT enabled several important aspects in the project: The use of CLT made it possible to create a spacious hallway and atrium space with a lot of light realized in an energy efficient manner as a semi-warm space. Thanks to the insulating qualities of massive wood, the use of CLT allows for controlling the temperature of the individual apartments independently from that of the hallway space. In addition, the use of prefabricated volumetric CLT modules made it possible to integrate the piping for heat, water, electricity and ventilation in the wall structure in the hallway. The use of prefabricated modules made it possible to cut the construction time on site down to six months and to reduce the exposure to weather conditions.

That made it possible to achieve a higher quality in the end result. Working with CLT also made it possible to create a building with a primary load bearing structure and frame fully made of CLT modules for its entire 26 meters of height.

Other works by Anssi Lassila / OOPEAA include, for example, the Kärsämäki Shingle Church, the Kuokkala Church and the House Riihi. The Suvela Chapel and Community Center in Espoo is currently under construction, and a public sauna on the Island of Lonna in Helsinki and the Konsthall Tornedalen in Sweden are now in the design phase.

The members of the jury were Liisa Mäkijärvi, Executive Director of the Finnish Forest Foundation, Markku Karjalainen, Professor of Construction at the Department of Architecture at the Technical University of Tampere, and Janne Pihlajaniemi, Professor of Construction at the Department of Architecture at the University of Oulu. Mikko Viljakainen, Executive Director of Puuinfo Wood Information Center served as the secretary of the jury. 

Find more information about Puukuokka HERE.

Find more information about Wood Prize and see all the nominees HERE.