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World's largest timber building draws international attention in Pudasjärvi

A school complex constructed completely out of log timber will be completed in spring, 2016 in North Ostrobothnia. The vast building will be the largest of its kind in the world and has already attracted some one thousand visitors from around the world.

Luokkatilat avautuvat aulasta ja ne voidaan tarpeen mukaan yhdistää yhteiseen opetustilaan. Katossa olevat valaisemit odottavat vielä pölysuojien poistamista.
Image: Risto Degerman / Yle

A 10,000 square metre school complex is being built in Pudasjärvi, North Ostrobothnia and is expected to be finished by the end of May, 2016. The building will become a record-holder in that it is constructed almost solely out of log timber orhirsi– a Finnish speciality – and is the largest of its kind. And people are already interested.

"Last we checked some one thousand people have already come to visit the unfinished school," sourcing engineer Hanna Keskiaho from Lemminkäinen says.

Visitors have flocked to the construction site on the Iijoki river from faraway places such as South Korea and Australia. Both the impressive timber handiwork and the future of Finnish schooling have intrigued the out-of-towners.

The proprietors of the building complex themselves say they are most excited by a particular group of visitors: the students who will receive an education within the walls of the record-breaking timber school.

"One boy asked whether he would have to wear a tie every day in such a grand building," Keskiaho says. "And one girl said she will probably faint when she sees it finished."

Grand campus to solve indoor air problem

The Pudasjärvi timber building complex will be home to an elementary school, middle school and high school as well as a community college in autumn, 2016. It will be maintained using what is called a life cycle model, meaning that the Lemminkäinen Talo Oy building firm will be responsible for the building's upkeep for the next 25 years.

Key features of the building are its diversity and adaptability. For instance middle school's classrooms are built around the lobby area and can all be combined into one large learning environment.

The timber school has drawn international interest as a building site because its campus of four connected buildings makes it the largest timber lodge in the world. Engineers have had to consider a variety of construction challenges and solutions relating to the material.

The roofs of the lobby areas are supported by load-bearing beams because the wood in the walls will contract over the years. The house will be tested for two months before completion in May of next year.

Lemminkäinen is building the school in Pudasjärvi due to the serious indoor air problems in the old school. The walls in the new complex are solid wood, and the builders believe it will resolve any mould or air troubles.

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