February 14, 2013

How a round-log house gets smart

"The uniqueness of Finnish log construction lies in the technical functionality and design," says Jalo Poijula. Kontiotuote’s “New Age” collection showcases modern log house construction utilising the latest building services.
"The uniqueness of Finnish log construction lies in the technical functionality and design," says Jalo Poijula. Kontiotuote’s “New Age” collection showcases modern log house construction utilising the latest building services.
Kontiotuote

Within half a century, log house construction has experienced quite a revolution: traditional round-log cabins have evolved into today’s modern smart homes. Public construction and exports are two special growth areas. The material’s environmental friendliness also adds to the appeal.

“The development of industrial-scale log house construction in Finland began in the 1960s and 1970s, when Finns migrated to cities to find work, still wanting to spend their holidays in the peace and quiet of the countryside. This created a massive need for leisure homes,” says Jalo Poijula, chairman of the board of the Finnish Log House Association Hirsitaloteollisuus (HTT).

In the 1980s, log house manufacturers started to focus on single-family homes, mainly intended for a country setting. In the 2000s, single-family home construction started to concentrate on cities and suburbs, as a result of which log house designs were revamped to fit their urban surroundings.

“Along with the recent mould and indoor climate problems found in daycare centres and schools, logs have also emerged in public construction as a technically secure and safe building material,” Poijula says.

The sky’s the limit for demand

Poijula is a firm believer in the bright future of log construction.

“As an ecologically sound, renewable natural material that stores carbon dioxide, logs are in growing demand. Finland is home to the world’s technologically most advanced log house industry and the world’s largest log house factories.”

A modern log building is highly energy-efficient. The by-products from the factories, such as wood bark, chips and sawdust, provide renewable energy that can be utilised in the production of heat and electricity in larger quantities than consumed by the entire manufacturing process all the way from the forest to the finished house.

“This is something that no other construction material in the world can achieve.”

Log buildings worth roughly 100 million euros are being exported annually, mainly to Russia, but also to Japan and the EU region. As far as demand is concerned, in Poijula’s view the sky’s the limit.

“Volumes are dictated more by the competitiveness of Finnish industry than by the level of demand.”

Log houses get smart

The collection launched at the beginning of this year by Kontiotuote represents the state of the art in today’s log house construction. It focuses not only on modern architecture, but also on the latest building services. Talobit, based in Oulu in Northern Finland, brings to the table a comprehensive smart home solution that not only saves energy, but also increases safety.

“Today’s ecological and healthy log houses have all of the possibilities offered by modern building services at their disposal,” says Juha Paananen, managing director of the strongly growing company Talobit.

Three years of product development resulted in an innovative service package including a Talobit studio, which provides the customer with a real-life, first-hand experience of the environment and the opportunity to compare various lighting, entertainment technology, household automation and water fixture options, for example.

“Good pre-planning is also useful from the architectural perspective: all the equipment required for a smart home can be concealed, as the routing channels for wiring are pre-installed in the log frame at the factory,” Paananen explains.

Text by: Sari Okko

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