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Universities work together to promote the growth of wood construction

Published on 28.2.2023
Tampere University
Kaksi vastavalmistunutta puurunkoista kerrostaloa suomalaisessa lähiössä.The Doctoral School of Industrial Wood Construction conducted studies in wooden blocks of flats of the Tampere Student Housing Foundation (TOAS) that were completed in Hervanta in Tampere in summer 2022. The six-storey wooden construction complex named Lumipuu (“Snowy Tree”) was designed by architect students Aleksi Kraama and Eero Kuokkanen, with architects’ office LSV Arkkitehdit. Photo: LSV Arkkitehdit and Roope Jakonen.
The Doctoral School of Industrial Wood Construction at Tampere University is starting collaboration with Aalto University. The goal of practical teaching and research involving industry is to combine science and business. At the Doctoral School, the partners are bringing together knowledge based on research on wood construction and educating more specialists that are needed in the field. Especially environmental reasons are in favour of the construction of wooden high-rise buildings.

There is a desire to increase large-scale wood construction, like multi-storey wooden apartment buildings, in Finland. However, growth is held back by the lack of specialists dedicated to the sector.

“In Finland, designers of a wooden apartment building are required to have a particularly demanding competence. A designer of a concrete apartment building with more than eight storeys can be chosen from the register of FISE (Qualification of Professionals in Building, HVAC and Real Estate Sector in Finland) among 500 structural engineers. But only about 20 are competent for designing a wooden apartment building,” says Markku Karjalainen, Professor of Architectural Construction at Tampere University.

According to Karjalainen, 98 % of secondary residences, 85 % of one-family houses, but only 6 % of apartment buildings are wooden. He thinks there is also a need for public wooden buildings, which are typically technically demanding.

The lack of specialists slowing down the large-scale implementation of wood construction concerns the entire construction process.

“Wood construction has a lot of untapped potential. At the Doctoral School, we are contributing to improving the situation by bringing a wide range of new knowledge and expertise to the sector,” says Sami Pajunen, Professor of Civil Engineering at Tampere University.

Tampere University and Aalto University are now expanding to a joint doctoral school where the strong competence of Tampere in wood construction is combined with the international competence of Aalto University in wood material science. Professor of Wood Science at Aalto University, Lauri Rautkari, will participate in the Doctoral School’s projects.

Information for direct use in the wood construction sector

Tampere University’s Doctoral School of Industrial Wood Construction is educating not only specialists in wood structures designing, but also in acoustics and fire design, architectural design, project competence, product development and business competence.

Aalto University is bringing along a strong knowledge of wood material from cell wall level to wood products. Professor Rautkari is constantly working with international top universities, making world-class science available here in the Nordic countries.

At the same time, the universities are planning and implementing joint education. Aalto University is making online courses available to everyone interested during 2023. Even now, within Aalto University alone, the number of students has exploded.

“Collaboration between wood construction and wood material science is natural, as the material expertise of wood is at the heart of developing new wood-based construction products in a high-quality environment,” Rautkari says.

The practicality concerning the activities at the Doctoral School means that research and development are conducted on issues that genuinely will benefit the industry in the sector.

Havainnekuva Ouluun rakennettavasta 16-kerroksisesta puukerrostalosta.
In 2025, the highest wooden block of flats in Finland will be completed in the housing exhibition area in Oulu. The multi-storey building Puukruunu (“Wooden Crown”) will have as many as 16 timber-framed floors. Photograph: Puurakentajat Group Oy and architects’ office Schauman Arkkitehdit Helsinki Oy.

Co-working is bringing new insights to researchers

In addition to a coordinator, the Doctoral School is planning to hire more doctoral researchers. Now, there are nine doctoral researchers investigating wood construction at Tampere University. At Aalto University, approximately ten doctoral dissertation studies are ongoing on wood material science.

Besides doing research, most doctoral researchers work in companies, which also come up with research topics for them. The Doctoral School is focused on doctoral dissertation research, but also authors of Bachelor’s theses or Master’s theses in the Master of Science may be employed where possible.

Popular writing camps are an essential part of the Doctoral School’s activities. On the camps the doctoral researchers, who are investigating wood construction from different angles and research fields, practice guided scientific writing. The education also includes peer review and co-writing.

“An important part of education is encouraging the sharing of information. Close collaboration between researchers will enable new insights in different fields,” Pajunen adds.

Contact persons

Sami Pajunen
+358 40 849 0571
sami.pajunen [at]

Markku Karjalainen
+358 40 583 2127
markku.karjalainen [at]

Lauri Rautkari
+358 50 569 3458
lauri.rautkari [at]