But these are showcases, the exception rather than any kind of rule. Helsinki, like other principal Finnish cities, is a concrete, brick, and steel city. Timber, until recently out of fashion and in any case restricted due to fire regulations, remains an outsider material even in this land of forests. Granted, small one-floor residential homes are predominantly from timber (around 90%), as are a smattering of other single-storey buildings, schools, community centres and libraries. There are next to no timber offices, apart from showcases for the major timber companies, the Metsa Wood (or originally Finnforest) and UPM Kymmune HQ’s, both designed by Helin & Co, can be found in Espoo. On the eastern edge of central Helsinki, Eko-Viikki, the capital’s eco-district is the most concentrated example of timber housing.
Further: see the Eko-Viikki feature in Unstructured 2 here.
Viikki church is also a well-regarded timber project by the equally well regarded JKMM. One can also find older timber houses in and around Viikki, as one can in most Finnish cities and towns. There are also many individual houses and homes designed and built with wood dotted across the capital.
Helsinki’s Eko-Viikki was one such fruit, of the
turn-of-the-century Modern Wood Town programme, emanating from the country’s
northern capital Oulu, in the early 2000s. Wood Town districts spread from
Oulu, and can be found in other towns and cities, including Porvoo, Lahti and Jyväskylä. There have been other larger
housing projects, but the most
obvious construction type, larger scale housing, hasn’t begun to take off yet,
with isolated examples found in Jyväskylä: OOPEA’s six to eight-storey Puukuokka housing blocks, and most
recently in the capital of Finland’s eastern Karelia region, Joensuu.