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Results: The Urban Adaptation Competition

The competition proved a success – it received a total of 154 entries from 48 countries! Too often, buildings are static and focus only on the current needs of the community. They serve the purpose they are designed to serve, but when cities grow, and the needs of the community change, this becomes a problem. It may also be necessary to quickly adapt to changes of lifestyle like the move to working from home. The results of the Urban Adaptation competition show how modular construction using engineered wood products like Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber) enables adaptable, sustainable and cost-competitive construction.

The entries were evaluated anonymously. In addition to visual and functional criteria, the designs needed to show (1.) adaptability, (2.) modularity and (3.) sustainability. Here are the winners:

  • 1st prize €15,000: S M L XL, by Francesco Allaix and Julio Orduña, Finland
  • 2nd prize: €5,000: Zerno, by Alexandra Chislavleva, Sergey Ogorodnikov and Xenia Yakimenko, Russia
  • Honourable mention: Modu-Rot, by Onur Karataş, Alp Fahri Ardıç and Muhammed Yasin Gülmez, Turkey

“We’ve seen many interesting entries, with sites located across the world, showing how universally applicable a modular wooden    system can be,” says Rahel Belatchew, Chief Architect and founder of Belatchew Arkitekter, Sweden. The other member of the jury was Minna Riska, Architect and partner at MDH Arkitekter, Norway.

1st Prize

Project by: Francesco Allaix and Julio Orduña


Monitoimipuutalo (literally in Finnish “multifunction wooden building”) is a new community centre located at the intersection of three neighbourhoods, just a few kilometres north of Helsinki’s city centre. North of the community centre lays the park of Toukulan rantapuisto and Arabianranta, consisting of mainly a university campus and housing blocks developed in the noughties. South of it, a semi-abandoned industrial area stretches for about 1,5 km till the new neighbourhood of Kalasatama and the eponymous metro station. On the eastern side, beyond the arterial road Hermannin rantatie, lays Hermanni housing area, developed mainly during the 50′ and 60′.

The chosen location defines the entrance to the existing park and will be a corner stone of the area’s future development, given the fact that the semi-abandoned area on the south is planned to become a new neighbourhood, connecting over the years the already thriving neighbourhoods of Arabianranta and Kalasatama. Therefore, a multipurpose timber structure is perfectly suited to adapt to the present and future needs of the area while hosting a wide range of uses to serve the local community.

Monitoimipuuutalo takes a clue from the typical XIX century (or older) apartment block, where its section expresses a great functional, social, and economic diversity. Then Modernism brought segregation of functions, with optimisation of structures as a priority. The proposal takes the best of both schemes, maximising variety and efficiency in an apparent oxymoron.

How to ensure that a building can be active and popular over its maximum lifespan?

Adaptability is the fundamental goal. Rather than a generic box with an abundant (therefore often inefficient) floor height, Monitoimipuutalo incorporates 4 different floor heights. All multiples of the minimum height of 2,7 m., the apartment’s standard floor-to-ceiling height. Different heights define different spaces optimised to host different functions.
  • S-premises: height 2,7 m, the module -> small repetitive units as housing in all its variations
  • M- premises: height 5,9 m, or 2x the module + floor slab -> medium size spaces often enjoying a mezzanine option, as for eating, leisure, etc.
  • L- premises: height 4,05 m, or 1,5x the module -> large size spaces as for working, learning, shopping, double height option (see Main structural ideas), etc.
  • XL-premises: height 9,1 m, or 3x the module + floor slabs -> leisure, sport, art, etc.
Extreme variety in section is combined with an extreme simplicity in plan: the bearing timber structure follows a standard module of 8,10 m through the whole building. This combination of variety and standardisation frees the space to be used for a wide range of activities.
The public functions are host at the lower levels, so to foster interaction between inside and outside, engaging with the neighbours and inviting to enter the full height atrium or take a shortcut through the vegetated passage. As the programs inside the building change over time, Monitoimitalo flexibility and generosity will keep it active and popular.

roducts that meet customers’ needs are made by employees who are highly competent and willing to learn and reinvent themselves. Our employees are guided by Metsä Group’s values: responsible profitability, reliability, cooperation and renewal. We operate in line with our values and let the results speak for themselves.

Responsible profitability means that we improve our profitability while also considering the environment and listening to our stakeholders. All of our other values lay the foundation for responsible profitability.

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2nd Prize

Project by: Alexandra Chislavleva, Sergey Ogorodnikov and Xenia Yakimenko


Village extinction is a significant issue in Russia from the beginning of XXI century.
The main factors of outflow of people are closure of schools and hospitals and consequently full termination of social life due to the leaving of young families and working age population.


The definition of ZERNO in Russia means a seed of plant. This project was inspired by dandelion lifecycle, which can fly for kilometres till it drops in the fertile ground.
The ZERNO might be located all around the world, we design it to solve a problem of Russian villages on the example of Haya, where we had growth, but there are a range of other places that are waiting for support.

The ZERNO’s lifecycle includes several phases:
At the first stage “Germination”, the body of ZERNO is transported to the chosen location and installed on the special screw piles that have been prepared in advance. During this stage, the ZERNO will serve as attraction for tourists, and present abandoned location drawing attention to it.

The second phase “Pollination” may take longer time, till the moment when somebody of villagers or newcomers will activate this process. The open ZERNO needs at least 4 people who should turn the wheel to activate mechanical system that will open the ZERNO finally. Each of 4 petals are the part of general community centre, all materials that will be required for construction premises of community centre, can be kept in the empty spaces between load bearing beams of the petals.

At the bottom of the ZERNO’s body Individuals can take buildings sets for construction of their private houses. The sets are placed inside the stem of ZERNO on the special spots that lowered instead ones that have been taken earlier. After 4 sets, box with details of the first part of a windmill are placed. The windmill will generate energy for a growing village, when all sets will be withdrawn there will be one more box with another part of wind turbine. In the empty space connections between petals will be equipped.

Since the windmill will be finally completed, another phase of ZERNO’s lifecycle – Generation will begin. At this stage ZERNO becomes a complex with own ecosystem. Generated energy will be more than enough to create a small IT centre. The top part of structure will function as a drone station.

There is opportunity to enhance certain environment using more than one ZERNO, equipped to different needs: local school, medical or community centre, workplace or even energy station.

The last stage is Redemption. Nothing lasts forever, after 70 years the construction and materials will be worn out, the society, probably, will have absolutely new lifestyle and needs. What will be happen with the body of ZERNO? Reasoning from the present time, the most progressive and obvious way is recycle. Wooden construction may be transformed into new materials, used as fuel or in any other way that will be available.

There is no reason to get upset, nothing lasts forever.

Honorable Mention

Project by: Onur Karataş, Alp Fahri Ardıç and Muhammed Yasin Gülmez


The project site is located in Kızılay, Ankara, Turkey. Kızılay is the center of Ankara, where commercial, cultural and accommodation usage are observed all together. Rapidly changing city center requires adaptable, low-cost, energy efficient and sustainable solutions for changing spatial needs of the community.

We offer an adaptable structure that accommodates various functions within itself. In time, with the changing needs of the society, the offered structure is able to adapt (but not limited to) pre-determined plan types of housing, co-working, public served community classes and private enterprises. These plan types are reproducible and convertible among each floor without the necessity of altering the main structure and the façade but only require adjustments of easily attachable/detachable interior partition walls and floors. This sort of adaptation provides a continuous response to the changing needs of the community by enabling sustainable, low-cost, fast and effective urban adaptation.

Contrasting to conventional structural material concrete, wood products are obtained from sustainable resources. Also, unlike neighborhood’s reinforced concrete structures, application of the wooden construction system has more advantages in daily use since it reduces the energy consumption for climate resilience with its low thermal conductivity value, which also results in lowering the carbon emission, and in long term, leads to a sustainable and energy efficient community.

Using a modular wooden construction technique, necessary volumes are created by rotating a simple initial module. Repetition and combination of the same module in various rotations allows creating the structure of interior and exterior volumes, façades and the roof. The rotation creates inclined surfaces for the roof to increase climate resilience, angled balconies in the upper floors to give visual connections to city life and a welcoming entrance in the ground floor facade in order to strengthen the relationship between the building and the main street in ground level. Besides environmental sustainability, these relations are created to host “meaningful involvement” of people to the offered building programs and city life and enhance human relations in the society to achieve social sustainability. [2]
Changing city conditions of Kızılay requires the city center to host less accommodation spaces and more offices and cultural spaces day by day. Three distinct scenarios are offered for the suggested structure’s life cycle in a time range. Altering transformations of the building space and its function are repsented as solutions to rapidly changing spatial needs of Kızılay. These solutions include a functional diversity in order to create a heterogenity of functional usage which will lead to a sustainable city life that meets various needs of the habitant.
Date: March 11, 2021