Can wooden multistory construction become mainstream by strengthening network cooperation?

12.12.2019
In the last few years, wooden multistory construction (WMC) businesses have gained popularity in Finland. New companies have entered the industry and the number of WMC projects are increasing. Many cities are interested in increasing wood construction, especially due to climate concerns. Research from the University of Helsinki shows that the sector can enhance competitiveness by strengthening cooperation between companies involved in projects.

A University of Helsinki seminar on wooden multistory construction titled, "Mainstreaming wood in urban buildings: A matter of strengthening Collaborations and creating new connections?" brought together nearly one hundred scholars, business and government representatives to discuss the business and policy guidance of WMC. The research group User-Oriented Business in Wood Construction Business Ecosystems (KäPy) and Wood Vision 2025—a study of policy guidance on wood construction—both reported recent results on both the industry's business and factors influencing its competitiveness.

The keynote speaker at the seminar, Professor Anders Q. Nyrud from the University of Life Sciences in Norway, looked at the relationship between wood construction and the sustainability of the built environment. Nyrud, who has studied the health effects of the use of wood in construction, stresses that the sustainability of wood construction needs to be considered in a much broader context than just climate aspects. Nyrud also urged Finland to learn from successful wood construction business practices coming from other Nordic countries.

Collaboration accelerates the construction of wooden apartment buildings

Researcher Noora Viholainen (University of Helsinki) opened the University of Helsinki project presentations with a comparative study between three wooden multistory buildings and their business networks, the results from a three-year KäPy project. The results show that the competitiveness of wooden apartment building construction can be increased by closer cooperation between business networks. Communication should also increase between building developers, companies, municipalities and end users.

Researcher Florencia Franzini (University of Helsinki) reported on a study that explored the views of municipal authorities on the construction of wooden multistory buildings. Based on the results, many authorities see positive regional economic impacts, such as employment, in supporting the development of wooden multistory buildings. They also see combined opportunities to improve the living environment and quality of life of residents. Franzini is in the process of collecting new, wider data through a survey on the same theme. All Finnish municipalities are the target of this study.

The seminar was a culmination of multi-annual projects led by the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Business Finland was the main sponsor of the KäPy project, which focuses on industrial wood construction businesses. The Wood Vision 2025 project, which analyzed the policy guidance of the sector, was funded by the Foundation of Forest Workers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK).