Austrian architect Hermann Kaufmann, Professor at Munich Technical University, is urging Finnish architects, developers and construction companies to reconnect with the country’s wood construction tradition. Kaufmann received the 2010 Spirit of Nature award for wood architecture in Finland and is known as an architect who “builds with wood sustainably and beautifully, with people and for the people”.
“Wood construction has a future, which is why it is now worth putting resources into training, as well as convincing the public sector that promoting wood construction is sensible economically and from the viewpoint of climate objectives,” he says. “Using wood as a material creates opportunities for the future of the built environment. At the same time we can produce buildings that are healthy and breathe well.”
Major companies should get involved
Kaufmann believes that it is essential for the development of Finnish wood construction that large forest industry companies like Stora Enso and Metsä Wood enter the construction market. “Although there is beginning to be an openness and readiness for the promotion of wood construction, the developers, constructors and designers are not prepared for this,” he says.
Comparing the current situation in Finland to Austria 20 years ago, Kaufmann calls on Finnish companies to develop the know-how of their personnel and their building site practices on the terms required by wood construction, and above all to build high quality buildings. Today Austria has a thriving wood construction sector which has produced buildings that people are proud of and want to show off to everyone. Wood is viewed as a beautiful, ecological and local material from which local builders produce quality houses, also strengthening the regional economy.
According to Kaufmann, more and more low-emission and renewable building materials will be used in the future. He advises the cement and wood construction industries to cooperate rather than compete, since few buildings are made from just one material.