How did Tampere become the pioneer of timber construction?
Tampere has managed to turn the objectives of timber construction into concrete actions: apartments and public buildings made of timber are rising in the city. Timber construction is one way of achieving the city’s climate targets – a carbon-neutral Tampere by 2030.
– There is nothing strange in modern timber construction. We just had to try new things and learn how to construct different types of buildings. We’ve got off to a great start, Development Manager of Sustainable Tampere 2030 Laura Inha says.
The persevering and multisectoral cooperation has yielded results. For example, the programme for promoting wood construction (2016–2020) involved companies, authorities and educational and research organisations.
– The multisectoral aspect enabled some great results, and the different viewpoints developed into action that benefitted all parties, says Mikko Nurminen, Director of Urban Environment and Infrastructure Services of Tampere.
In practice, the results can be seen in how timber construction locations are being planned and implemented in Tampere more than anywhere else in Finland. This is evident in the assessment carried out by the Ministry of Environment. For example, around one thousand new wooden apartments are being constructed in Tampere in 2021–2022.
The City of Tampere is using a diverse set of means and incentives for timber construction. As new areas are planned in Tampere, timber construction is an option that is always being examined: what if the new building were made of wood?
In the infill development of older areas, additional storeys of flats made of wood are a particularly functional and sought-after solution. In plot handover competitions, a significant number of plots have been assigned for timber construction. The city’s positive attitude towards timber construction has clearly been noted among the construction operators.
– Predictability is always a good thing. The developers and construction companies follow the city’s plan and are aware of our objectives, Nurminen says.
According to Nurminen, the most significant incentive for timber construction is the fact that Tampere has been shown to be the most attractive city in Finland.
– Tampere is a very sought-after location for construction, which means that it is easier for us to set targets related to timber construction, Nurminen explains.
The City of Tampere is setting an example for public construction. For example, a decision to construct a day-care centre out of wood brings numerous benefits. Timber construction supports the city’s climate targets, decreases the carbon footprint of construction and produces more diverse architecture as well as comfortable buildings with healthy indoor air.
– After all, the day-care centres, schools and apartments are being built for people, Nurminen says.
At the end of 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Motiva recognised Tampere for being a pioneer of public timber construction. According to the justification for the recognition, the sustained efforts of the City of Tampere have made timber construction a seamless part of the growing city’s identity, basic functions and climate work.
Isokuusi in Vuores was originally designed as a modern urban environment, and there was a lot of interest in the different architectural possibilities provided by timber construction during the design process. Since then, climate impacts related to timber construction have increasingly emerged. Today, timber construction is among the means recorded in the Carbon Neutral Tampere 2030 roadmap for achieving the set climate targets.
– The Carbon Neutral Tampere 2030 roadmap is a document from which the city’s units annually select measures to be included in their own annual plans. This is the way in which the objectives of timber construction, for instance, can be implemented in practice, Inha explains.
Naturally, the future of Tampere not only relies on timber construction. Timber is used as a construction material in projects where its use is appropriate. Timber has an advantage in terms of low-carbon objectives, but the steel and concrete industries are constantly catching up.
– Construction is being developed in a low-carbon direction, and the climate objectives of Tampere include the use of more than just one material. The carbon footprint of materials is measured, and decisions are made based on the results, Inha explains.
Text Päivi Stenroos
Photos Laura Happo and Anna-Leea Hyry