Woodstories - Urban densification developments for sustainable living in Tammela

by Lisa Voigtländer from Tampere University of Technology, School of Architecture, Finland
Tutored by: Prof. Dr.Tech. Arch. Harry Edelman

Author comments:

This master thesis work focuses on complementary wood architecture for sustainable urban densification in Finland’s third biggest city, Tampere. Tampere´s city-district Tammela had been chosen for an urban densification pilot project, supporting the prospective developments of Tampere city center.
For the project sites, potential in-fill plots could be identified by interviewing the co-owner cooperatives of local housing sites.
Emerging from those identified spaces for densification, this thesis offers three different in-fill solutions and building typologies for three of the determined sites. The presented designs contain: 1) one extension, placed on top of an existing building, 2) townhouses in form of terraced houses and 3) an attached block infill with multi-storey buildings.
This empiric process of the projects made it possible to base the design and constructional ideas on real conditions and additionally having the chance to participate and gain insight to local building policies and development processes.
A significant part of the architectural design is the proposal for a conceptual idea of a wood construction system of prefabricated, customized three-dimensional units and their assembly to a multi-story wooden construction. Being trained and having worked as a cabinetmaker raised my enthusiasm for the possibilities of engineered solid wood material. It inspired me to imagine a building construction in a similar way as prefabricated individual “build–in furniture”.
The objective is to achieve high quality architecture with a holistic design approach.

Tutor comments:

The thesis focused on a timber development concept for urban in-fill development in the City of Tampere, Finland. The work covered a broad scope from urban design to technical details. The thesis doesn't stop to wood architecture and urban design but consults also financial aspects on urban densification and the engagement of real-life stakeholders to the development. The work had an objective to deliver an attractive and sustainable wooden in-fill concept. The author has a background as a joiner which provides a personal touch to the expression of wood architecture as a warm and humane solution in a complex urban situation: suburban feeling of the city district surrounded by asphalt and parking lots. The work demonstrated diverse housing typologies in the context of Tammela City District in order to showcase the applicability of wooden in-fill architecture. By doing so, the work provided an outstanding contribution to the current discussion in the society whether urban densification is desirable or not, and how it can increase the ecosocial value of built environment. The current discussion in Finland has focused merely on traffic, green areas, and energy but the students work showed the value of architectural quality, meaning of mix-uses of urban fabric, and potential for adding urban green in existing cities. Thus the thesis indicated based on the stakeholder consultations that the quality oriented in-fill projects can improve the conditions of urban life in the cities.

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