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Finnforest Modular Office
Tapiola, Espoo, Finland, 2005

Finnforest Modular Office

Client: Real estate limited Kiinteistö Oy FMO Tapiola
Location: Tapiola, Espoo, Finland
Year of completion: 2005
Gross area: 13 048 m²
Volume: 50 420 m³

For the architect of the 21st century, timber is a fascinating building material that sets new challenges, even though it is the oldest and most tested material in use. Wood makes a more positive impression on the human mind than other building materials. When moderately processed it is an authentic and living natural product, a locally produced material requiring little energy. It is a renewable resource that binds carbon dioxide and stores heat. It is easy to process and to repair. The applications of timber are limited, but so are those of other materials. However, during the past decades its use has been excessively restricted by public authority regulation. Now these artificial impediments are being removed.

As an opening for new possibilities of timber, Finnforest organized in 2003 the Modular Office architectural competition, in which our entry “Sydänpuu - Heartwood” was awarded first prize. The building is now complete, and it is the tallest timber office building in Europe. Our prefabricated, modular FMO frame, wall and cladding units can be used to plan execute timber office buildings of individual form. The system is based on a series of simple, rectangular basic modules, to which curved special modules may be added. The life span of the basic structural elements was set at over a hundred years, at a cost that matched the average level for office buildings.

The building consists of rectangular modules, reminiscent of a stack of sawn timber. At the end we have used a conical module, which makes reference to typical forms in woodworking. The modules are hidden within an architectonic spatial system where the tall circulation spaces inside alternate with the open-ended atria on the outside. The workspaces are interspersed between these in such a manner that all units have views framed by timber structures onto different parts of Tapiola and its surroundings.

The scale of the working environments is small. They are suited for working alone and small groups, with equipment to meet varying needs. The use of materials, colours and detailing differ from the conventional mode. The objective has been to promote positive interaction between the social and physical environments, to create a milieu that is tranquil and conducive to concentration.