Pihapetäjä

The site at the edge of a pine forest provided an interesting context for the building project. It is designed to allow for two or three additional wooden apartment buildings in addition to the now completed Pihapetäjä to be built later.

In the past few decades Joensuu, one of the biggest towns in eastern Finland, has become known for its innovative approach to wooden construction. Wood has been used in interesting ways in the construction of several pilot projects for stadiums, large hall spaces and for office buildings. As a locally available material, wood has presented a new potential for the development of sustainable construction in the region. Pihapetäjä, just completed this summer, is the first wooden multi-story apartment building in Joensuu. It was commissioned by the Foundation for the Promotion of Karelian Culture as a response to their desire to build affordable rental housing of high quality in an ecologically responsible manner.

The site at the edge of a pine forest provided an interesting context for the building project. The Foundation already had four apartment buildings built in the 1960s there. As part of the current initiative, a new plan for the infill development of the block was made. It is designed to allow for two or three additional wooden apartment buildings in addition to the now completed Pihapetäjä to be built later and for a complementary one- or two-story wooden layer to be built on top of the already previously existing structures on the Mäntyläntie street side.

It was decided to place the first multi-story wooden apartment building in the corner of the Mäntyläntie and the Honkapolku streets and the architectural design was specifically tailored to meet the needs of wooden construction. There was an identified need for studio apartments of relatively spacious character as well as for three room apartments with an efficiently arranged layout, so it was decided that the first building be organized around these two apartment types. All units, including the smallest ones, were supplied with a retracting balcony. This made it possible to create a glazed semi-public zone between the exterior and interior of the building. In the heart of the building there is a spacious hallway that gets wider towards both ends. The building services engineering was integrated in the walls between the apartment units and the hallway which was finished on site. The units were built with prefabricated volumetric modular elements with the studios composed of one element and the larger units of two elements. The method is based on the application that was first developed for the Puukuokka Housing Block in Jyväskylä. Here, it was modified to meet the specific requirements of the Pihapetäjä site and its apartment composition.

The Pihapetäjä building is part of a larger research and development project focusing on the study of the potential of wooden construction. Alongside with the Foundation for the Promotion of Karelian Culture also the Karelia Institute and the University of Eastern Finland were partners in the development phase of the Pihapetäjä project. As part of the ongoing research project, information on the residents’ experience of living in the building will be collected over a ten-year period of time. Also technical data will be collected over time with the help of sensors installed in the building. Pihapetäjä, the first wooden apartment building in Joensuu, has a carbon footprint that is 40 % smaller during its life cycle than that of a regular apartment building. It also offers a great quality of life in a building that it feels good to breathe in. Solar panels produce energy for the general power grid and for the needs of the building itself.

The goal for the Pihapetäjä project was to build an apartment building of a human scale in Joensuu. In addition, the principles of ecological sustainability and energy efficiency were central in the project. The completed building is now ready for everyone to assess and experience for themselves.

Project in brief
Location: 
Joensuu
Client: 
Foundation for the Promotion of Karelian Culture
Size: 
Gross floor area: 2100 k-m², 40 apartments
Structural design: 
Joensuun Juva Oy, Construction consultant: Jwood Ky
Special design: 
Electrical design: Sähkösuunnittelu Juha Eskelinen Oy, HVAC design: LVI-Insinööritoimisto Koski-Konsultit Oy, Sprinkler desing: Granlund Joensuu Oy, Energy consultant: Granlund Joensuu Oy, Fire safety consultant: Palotekninen insinööritoimisto Mar
Contractor: 
Rakennustoimisto Eero Reijonen Oy