As climate change and overpopulation have accelerated in recent decades, the urgent need for new, more responsible and renewable building materials has grown. Along with new material innovations that contribute to circular economy, the world’s oldest building material – wood – is once again in the spotlight. Timber is carbon negative from cradle to gate, giving it an increasingly significant role in tackling climate change. Since uncertified timber will be available as long as demand exists, knowing the origin of the wood helps to ensure that the product has not been made at the expense of nature and future generations. The Finnish ThermoWood® producer Lunawood wanted architects to see the background of their wood themselves – from a small spruce seedling in the Finnish forest to a finished panel product in the mill and finally to innovative projects. This sparked the idea of “Lunawood Architects’ Days,” an event that would bring together architects from around to world to Finland to learn about Finnish forest management, which is governed by the world’s oldest forest laws. Architect Martin Majna from 3AE in Slovakia, and Barbara and Adam Jung from JUNG architekti in Czech Republic were three of the participants who got to experience the Finnish forest and culture together with eight other architects, who were previously unknown to one another.
Organized for the first time, Lunawood Architects’ Days gathered eleven architects from Europe, Brazil and South Africa to the small town of Kaskinen on the west coast of Finland at the end of June 2022.
The core of the event was seeing the origin of Lunawood Thermowood: The journey of PEFC-certified wood from the forest to the patented Thermowood process, which uses only heat and steam, and finally to the premium end products. During their visits to the forest, the participants delved into topics such as sustainable forest management and PEFC certification. At the Lunawood Mill in Kaskinen, the architects were able to see how and why the chemical-free thermal modification process is implemented, as well as the strict quality measures that are carried out to ensure the best possible outcome.
During their week in Finland, the architects also got to take in the gems of Finnish architecture and together outlined new visions of future architecture.
Czech Republic experience at the round table
Adam Jung and Barbara Jung, the founder architects of JUNG architekti, were invited to take part in Lunawood Architects’ Days in Finland, 2000 kilometers north of Brno, Czech Republic. JUNG architekti prefer using wood materials in their projects when possible. They are also familiar with Thermowood’s performance in Czech republic specifically at the project Lahofer winery in South Moravia, where Adam Jung was a main architect and supervisor at the building site for CHYBIK + KRISTOF ASSOCIATED ARCHITECTS s.r.o..
JUNG architekti explain why they initially ended up looking for wood materials outside the borders of Czech Republic for their projects:
“Almost every week we are looking for solutions with the wood facades and other cladding for our proposals.. It’s very important for us to have affordable materials for big companies as well as for smaller clients”, explain Adam and Barbara Jung form JUNG architekti.
Barbara and Adam have learned about the nature and technical characteristics of the product through experience. International Architects’ Days gave them a deeper understanding of the values associated with Lunawood – values that are deeply connected to Finnish culture.
“Our four days we have spent with Lunawood people were amazing adventure about healthy approach to innovation and sustainability. Thanks to the summer camp vibe we could exchange our experiences in between the group of amazing architects all around the world. For example, during yoga class in forest and thanks to long nights conversations without sunset. Also, amazing workshops, where we had to participate in small groups, were inspiring. All together it was important time for us, architects – trying to cooperate with the others who have different backgrounds and different native language, and also different architectural dictionary. We have learned so many new things about Finnish forestry culture and we would be very happy to see same treatment of our forest in our country as in Finland.” says Ms Jung.
Martin Majna: Architects as drivers for a change
Martin Majna, the engineer-architect at 3AE is young talented architect in the beginning of his career. His company has used wood more that 10 years specialized in residential buildings built in cross laminated timber panels. Through the first years most of our facades were in Siberian larch. Since we discovered Thermowood, we offered our clients both variants, Thermowood being the premium one. The process of “baking” the wood makes it much more stable, not only in color but more importantly physically. It is much better material for exterior use a façade or terrace. Personally, he likes the cleverness of the material, even though it is just “baked” wood, Lunawood Thermowood, as it is so much more than just a wood.
Mr. Majna participated actively in conversations about the future of architecture and role of architects in it.
“As architects, we can be one of the drivers for a change in the building industry. Every material has its pros and cons, but we need to think also about sustainability and the energy costs of the building, not only for transportation at the building site, but also embedded energy in materials, maintenance of the building and in a long-run also adaptability of the buildings for future needs”, Architect Majna explains.
According to him the future architecture we will see a much higher percentage of new buildings built in wood. That is not a surprise because of history of his company.
“In Europe, we have a great potential in our forests and there are countries like Finland and Austria already with a tradition of sustainable forest management, that is a precondition for being sustainable. With advancements in the material like Cross Laminated Timber and Glue Laminated Timber, we can build higher and bigger, but I believe the real future lies not in towers or some monstrosities but making building in wood a common practice in small to middle scale projects” Majna foresees.