The sun shines brightly one October morning in Finnish Kouvola’s Mansikka-aho district, beautifully highlighting the architecture and roof structures of the new wooden school building that is being built there. Koskisen Houses has played an important role in the construction of the wood school, supplying the wall elements and roof trusses for the building.
Koskisen Houses has this year been experiencing an upward trajectory in terms of professional building. Among the company’s largest projects is the construction of Mansikka-aho’s two-storey wooden school building in Kouvola, for which Koskisen Houses supplied the wooden exterior wall elements, load-bearing intermediate walls and roof structures.
The construction company Lemminkäinen started the ambitious project a year ago in November, and the first element deliveries left the Vierumäki factory in February. The wooden school building is expected to be completed in spring 2014, and the school’s first pupils will begin classes there in autumn of the same year. The new school will house a total of 22 teaching rooms and accommodate roughly 600 pupils.
The Mansikka-aho school project would not have been possible without Herrala Houses’ new production line for large-scale elements. Elements as large as 4x14 metres can be manufactured on the line, which has been operating at full capacity since its start-up in February.
“After the Mansikka-aho project, the line will be further improved with the addition of various lifting equipment. So, for example, windows can be installed in the elements already at the factory, and when the elements arrive at the construction site, their exterior is already completely finished,” says Development Engineer Janne Inkinen.
Having the elements as close to finished as possible at the factory speeds up construction work at the site and is also cost-effective.
The demanding architecture of the Mansikka-aho school brought challenges of its own to the project. The roof structure, for example, required 600–700 different types of trusses. The trusses were manufactured at Koskisen’s roof-truss factory in Järvelä, Finland.
The last element and roof-truss deliveries headed out for Kouvola in August. Currently, the frame and roof of the wooden school are nearing completion, and the work has moved indoors. The focus right now is on the intermediate walls, and painting and tiling. Vertti Vallenius, a production engineer with Lemminkäinen Talo Ltd, is pleased overall with how the project has progressed and with Koskisen Houses’ part in it.
“The collaboration with Koskisen Houses has worked without a hitch. The elements that were delivered were exactly right and fit perfectly. We hardly needed a chain saw,” laughs Vallenius, who was especially pleased with Koskisen Houses’ ability to meet the challenging schedule. There were no delays in deliveries, and the Houses division’s contribution in terms of structural engineering was considerable.
Public timber construction on the rise
In addition to the Mansikka-aho school, Koskisen Houses has also recently been engaged in other projects in the public sector. Among them are a child welfare clinic in Mäntsälä and a few wood-framed elderly care centres. The company has received a number of quotation requests for new projects, which speaks to the success of the Mansikka-aho project.
Inkinen sees a bright future for wood construction: “In Finland the climate for it has become more positive, which can be attributed to, for instance, exemplary cases of building with wood, and the government’s endorsement of wood construction.”
According to Inkinen, wood elements are particularly well-suited for use in public buildings and apartment blocks. Wood is lighter than concrete, and the elements can be protected from the weather sooner. He also believes that, for example, using wood elements to add storeys onto an existing building will be more common in future, as wood is a lightweight material that can be sustained by the existing foundations. Additional storeys made of wood are also a good option in terms of fire safety.
“By further developing wood construction, we can also bring down costs,” says Inkinen.
Vallenius also sees room for wood construction in future. He believes wood is a good option for specific sites, as long as it has been taken into consideration already in the architectural design stage in order to make the best use of its visual properties.
“In the case of the Mansikka-aho school, the posts and beams, despite their impressive appearance, will unfortunately not be very visible, because they were not taken into account well enough during the design stage,” says a disappointed Vallenius.
Nevertheless, upon its completion next spring, the Mansikka-aho school will undoubtedly be quite an impressive sight to behold.