CLT production starts in Finland with expectations of a growing market

CLT production starts in Finland with expectations of a growing market

The long-awaited production of domestic CLT (cross-laminated timber) massive wood elements is being launched in Kuhmo. According to Crosslam Oy's founder, Managing Director Juha Virta, European experiences of CLT production and its use in construction encouraged the decision to start production. - I believe that demand for a domestic alternative exists on the market because, in Finland too, CLT construction is beginning to be well-known in apartment building construction. The aim is to carry out construction element and product component trade, in which elements are sold to construction projects for anything from houses to apartment buildings and public construction, says Virta.

- As the first Finnish CLT manufacturer, we feel like a snowplough, whose production roots lie strongly in the forests of Kainuu. We are expressly using certified, slow-growing, high-quality Kainuu pine and spruce because, on the export market, the origin of wood is highly important.

Virta reckons that the competitiveness of CLT construction is based on its versatility and speed of installation, which requires good logistics and control of details. - A CLT massive wood element is a ready-made alternative for structures and visible surfaces. In wood construction, factors related to spiritual and physical well-being have great added value, because the houses are tight, damp-free and ecological. The experiences of residents show that wooden houses stimulate a restful atmosphere and that the indoor air is healthy, says Virta.  

Virta believes that, in Europe, many companies are seeking to improve their image through wood construction. - Many international retail chains have selected wood, because they believe that it speaks to their ecologically aware customers, says Virta.

CLT is dry construction

Crosslam Oy’s Operations Director, Jyrki Moilanen, says that CLT construction is dry construction where the company produces components machined according to dimensions. - We make door and window openings on boards and we mill ready-made installation points for plumbing and electrical fittings.

- What is essential is in what form our product goes to the building site. Because the builder needs an intermediate machining stage for the CLT elements, we co-operate with house and element factories. The CLT element forms the load-bearing structure of a building, after which the surface work is done, either prefabricated in a factory or on site.

According to Moilanen, a CLT element is a precision product, which enables exact construction. - When the elements are brought to the building site, they are dry because they are constructed and loaded inside a factory.

The aim for Crosslam’s production by the end of the year is 1,000 m³ or 10,000 m² per month of ready element boards, which corresponds to about two apartment buildings each containing 15 dwellings. Elements from 60mm to 400mm thick will be manufactured. The entire European CLT production is more than 500,000 m³ per year.

The objective an export market for modular houses

Architect Marco Casagrande has designed 6 x 6 x 6-metre cube-shaped modules made of CLT massive wood element for the Asian market. Paracity modular houses are designed to be built in the coming years in Taiwan, Japan and Indonesia, both for reconstruction in disaster-hit areas and for the rebuilding of slums in heavily populated cities.

- The wooden module is made to withstand natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and fires, explains Casagrande. In the future, Paracity may offer a fast solution to the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas. This may also be an alternative for housing construction in the slum areas of large cities, because the modules can be combined in horizontal and vertical directions, entire urban districts can be built of them and other infrastructure can be planned in between them.   

In the first stage, the plan is to build Paracity houses on islands suffering from floods in Taipei, Taiwan, in the tsunami-hit area of Northern Fukushima in Japan and in Jakarta, Indonesia. What these areas have in common are natural disasters and a need to build housing quickly for the cities’ residents.

- If it were built, Taipei’s Paracity would be the world’s largest wooden building. Negotiations are serious and at such an advanced stage that the plan is to start production as early as next year. First 200-400 cubes would be built and inhabited and, in the future, the city can easily be expanded, says Casagrande.

In the opinion of the architect, massive wood elements represent the ecological and durable construction of the future, in which the energy and waste management of the dwellings is also taken into account. - In the Asian market, the origin of wood and its verification are very important in the end products.

- Although actual business in the export of these modular structures does not yet exist, for us this is an interesting product innovation, says Moilanen. If and when the project proceeds, we are ready for technical development work and pilot construction even at short notice.


Article service/Markku Laukkanen

Additional information:

Juha Virta, +358 (0)40 1486550,
Jyrki Moilanen, +358 (0)44 7759603,
Marco Casagrande, +358 (0)50 3089 166,