Internationally known architect and professor Sami Rintala believes in wood as the future building material and has made the benefits and possibilities of wood construction known worldwide.
For decades, wood has been an undervalued building material, while concrete, steel, and plastic have taken over the field. As people have become more aware of the harmful environmental effects of these new materials, the demand for wood has increased again. People have understood the excellent properties of wood better than before.
Several recent studies suggest that the use of wood is increasing in Finland. We also believe that growth will continue strong: wood has many good properties, and consumers, on the other hand, have an even greater desire to make responsible choices.
Our long-time client architect Sami Rintala, one of the owners of Rintala EggertssonArchitects, an architectural firm with a strong presence in Norway, is in line with this. Rintala specialises in the use of wood in architecture and has designed unique buildings all over the world.
Rintala Eggertsson Architects has received several prestigious architectural awards over the years, and their projects have been published in the industry's best-known magazines. The company also shares its know-how by teaching wood construction at various architecture schools.
"I have already held 234 construction workshops, ranging from a few days to three weeks. The last one just ended in Provence, France," Rintala mentions.
Dedicated work to promote the use of wood
Rintala himself is very familiar with wood as a material, and he feels his role and his company's role as an advocate and promoter of the use of wood.
"For our part, we use wood as much as possible. We also build the objects we design. However, we in the Nordic countries trust wood more than people elsewhere. The more we do exemplary work around the world, the more use of wood will increase. We still have work to do on that."
"Unfortunately, low-quality construction has created a false image of wood as a material. By building correctly and with good materials, we can improve the reputation of wood materials. When everyone understands the features of good quality wood, they will use it more and more."
"For example, there are already areas in Austria and Switzerland where constructors use a lot of wood. Good carpenters and architects make sure that wooden construction is of high quality. This should also be possible elsewhere. In an ideal situation, local wood is used in construction. This way we know which forest the wood comes from, and there is less need for logistics."
High-quality wood is created through many phases and can be used for many purposes
As the biggest problem in wood production, Rintala sees the excessive striving for efficiency in forest cultivation. It inevitably reduces the quality of the wood.
"When the forest grows too fast, the annual rings are big, and the wood is soft. It is difficult to make quality houses from such wood. The tree must be allowed to grow in peace to the right felling age so that its technical properties are the best possible."
"Additionally, the wood material must be sawn just the right way and dried to the right drying point considering its purpose of use."
When we have taken these things into account, we can use wood in a very versatile way. In Rintala's opinion, versatility is one of the best aspects of wood as a building material.
"Wood can play many different roles in buildings: we can use it to make structures, surfaces, insulation, details, and furniture – most of the house can be made of wood. Other materials, such as glass, metal, or plastic, do not bend to this."
Rintala reminds us that wood's versatility also brings ease and clarity to construction.
"Today's buildings have a lot, even hundreds of components made of different materials, and simplification is necessary. With wooden construction, we can reach much simpler solutions that are also more ecological and easier to maintain."
Every builder can influence the increase in the use of wood
Rintala sees that one of the most significant changes in wood construction in recent years is accepting wood as a material for the structures of even large buildings.
"5–10 years ago, large wooden structures were not accepted in Norway, for example, for apartment buildings. Accepting wood for this type of structure is important for promoting wood construction."
To increase the use of wood even more, Rintala encourages builders to be courageous.
"Nowadays, we clearly are building in the wrong way when considering ecological starting points. We should dare to try different solutions, and wood construction is an excellent option for that. Of course, we can't afford to experiment with everything in the construction industry. Nevertheless, only by experimenting, we can see what works. We can't just wait for things to be corrected by general guidance. There is no time for that."
"We should start experimenting with smaller buildings. I think people don't even need such big buildings as are often built today. In our own company, we have focused on experimenting with small buildings, and we hope the results can be used on a larger scale later."
"The universal problem in construction is that when making decisions, we think about which solution will produce the most and fastest profit. Instead, we should think more about ecology – it means sustainable, long-term returns."
High-quality wood material from Siparila
Siparila has been supplying wood panels to Rintala Eggertsson Architects' projects for a few years. The cooperation has been more than delivering goods; it has emphasized finding the most suitable solutions together.
"Siparila has the ability to find what we are looking for very quickly. They also update us on what is in stock and available for sale. Deliveries arrive quickly and without problems all the way to Norway," says Rintala.
"I have noticed that Siparila's selection has expanded to thermally modified wood. It is a good addition, and we want to try these materials over time, both on interior and exterior surfaces."
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