Oulu’s wooden Linnanmaa is the first of many modern wooden town districts to be designed and constructed in Finland. This experimental building project was launched in 1997 by a research group from the Wood Studio of the Department of Architecture at the University of Oulu as brainstormed by Professor Jouni Koiso-Kanttila.

Old Finnish wooden towns are valued and admired. While it is impossible to make exact copies of them, there are many features of those towns from which we can learn. The milieu, the scale and the detailing of the wood are not bound to architectural styles. For the Modern Wooden Town project that it launched, the Wood Studio of the Department of Architecture at the University of Oulu set as its goal the construction of a residential area using modern building techniques and architectural methods that would still have the properties of old wooden towns: high-density, human scale, a controlled variation in buildings instead of uniformity, narrow, closed street spaces and the hierarchical variation in street spaces as well as sheltered yards for the residential blocks. At the same time, the wooden Linnanmaa project in Oulu was to be used to showcase the multitude of architectural possibilities of modern wooden construction, even though the main objective was set as the development of a new type of high-density urban structure.

Wooden Linnanmaa is an area of approximately 12 hectares of 2.3-storey wooden flats and an experimental construction area of wooden low-rises. All of the areas buildings have wooden façades and, for the most part, they also have wooden frames. The total floor area of the area is approximately 25,000 sq.m. and the gross residential floor area is approximately 20,000 sq.m. A total of 45 residential buildings are being built in the areas six blocks; these buildings will have a total of 308 apartments for approximately 450−500 residents. With the exception of two buildings, all of the buildings are ready.

All of the areas six blocks have had different developers, planners and contractors. This means that as many parties as possible could gain experience with wooden construction

in the framework of the project. Different structure and building element solutions have been used in the blocks so that the area could experiment with different types of projects and technology in the various buildings. Since all of the blocks have also had different architectural designers, the area has gained a variation in architecture and detailing that is in line with the original objectives.

A very detailed building rubric was drafted to support the areas town plan. This rubric was used to attain the desired controlled variation in the building masses and façades. Enclosed carports and outbuildings that contain storage areas and other auxiliary spaces have been used in the spatial structuring of the blocks. Together with the Department of Zoning and Street Construction of the City of Oulu, particular attention was paid to the dimensioning of the street spaces when planning the area. The lanes that have been built in the area are a new element in modern Finnish construction and are being used to consciously create hierarchical differences between disparate routes.

Project in brief
Location: 
Oulu
Client: 
Pohjois-Suomen YH-Rakennuttajat, Pohjois-Suomen Opiskelijaasuntosäätiö, Riihi-säätiö rs
Contractor: 
Skanska Pohjois- Suomi Oy,Palmberg-Rakennus Oy, Rakennusliike Oulun Kiinteistötaito Oy, Rakennusliike O & K Veikkola Oy