Metsä Group’s Pro Nemus Visitor Center was opened in the beginning of June around the Äänekoski’s factory. In this completely wood constructed building, designers and industrialists sought solutions that were suitable for industrial construction but did not impede the architect’s hands.
UKI Architects Ltd. designed the Visitor Center as a continuation of the earlier designed biotech plant.
We wanted to make Pro Nemus a showroom for the Finnish forest, where the tree is visible and felt in all the details of the building. The centrepiece of the Visitor Center is made of Metsä Wood’s Kerto® LVL while the outside is clad in Siparila’s Topcoat cladding. Together these products, whose strong features allow longevity of the construction and the creation of spacious and spectacular spaces, says architect Ulla Passoja of UKI Architects.
The wider use of wood architecture requires new solutions
For a young generation of architects, building with wood is a matter of heart. We want to design architecture that incorporates the forest in a sustainable way and find new solutions made possible by innovative wooden construction products. However, maintaining a connection with tradition and local influence is important in preserving the originality, says Passoja.
According to Passoja, wood-based architecture needs to expanded to include high-quality wood-based products and a wide range of different surface finishing options. It is also important to preserve the authenticity of wood, as many architects want to use untreated wood to express a rugged and natural look in the buildings they plan. The Pro Nemus Visitor Center is an encouraging example of the beautiful possibilities in modern wooden architecture.
The use of wood in architecture encourages increased knowledge of sustainable wood-based solutions and highly prefinished wood cladding with high-quality surface treatment, fire safety, and moisture resistance, says Passoja.
Siding is an important part of the visitor center’s appearance
Pro Nemus represents the tip of modern wood construction in Finland. Modernity will be highlighted in the sculpted form of the building through basis of design and innovative material selections. The design endeavors to incorporate the wood in all the design’s surfaces. The 42 mm thick and nearly 300 mm wide, exquisite Siparila Topcoat exterior cladding is a significant element of the building’s appearance, says Passoja.
Pro Nemus is completely matte and distinct from other factory buildings. This unique surface treatment was achieved with a new, permanent paint treatment developed by Siparila; unlike conventional overlay painting this new system maintains the wood’s surface grain. This paint treatment also extends the maintenance intervals required of the wood compared to other exterior wood products. The prefinished wood cladding made of glued wood has the advantage of hidden clamping, which improves the weather resistance of the façade as the piling rods that could collect water are hidden.
The most important criteria for choosing an exterior finishing solution, especially for a visitor center, are durability and aesthetics. We cut the size, profile and surface treatment of the outer sheath panel in close cooperation with Siparila. It was especially important for us to keep the feel of a genuine wood in the exterior. The outer coat should look and feel from the wood both from afar and up close, emphasizes the Passoja.