Text description provided by the architects. The construction of The Finnish Forest Research Institutes (METLA) new building to accommodate the Joensuu Forest Research Institutes expanding workforce started in April 2003 and was finished in October 2004. The building is situated at the Joensuu University campus-area, in the close vicinity of Joensuu city centre.
The staff of Joensuu Forest Research Institute was growing until the end of 2005 up to 150-170 employees, of which 100 were permanent staff members, from 110 employees, including 60 researches, working at the Research Institute. This growth necessitated the building of new workspaces, because of the insufficiency of the existing facilities.
The Research Institute's task is to undertake applied forestry research which supports the regional enterprise activities and forest related regional economic, social and ecological development. One of the Research Institutes seven focus areas is the research of wooden materials.
The Metla Building stands out on the campus of the University of Joensuu due to its material and its concise form. From the exterior, the building appears to be a wood box. The forecourt, which is the gate to the building and which is demarcated by the walls made from logs from demolished houses. The offices and laboratory facilities of the research institute curl around the inner courtyard and the vestibule. The yard is dominated by the conference facilities, which resemble a boat that has been turned upside down, and the sloped columns of the vestibule, which have been inspired by the log booms from floating logs down rivers.
The primary goal of the construction project was to use Finnish wood in innovative ways. Hence, wood is the main material used throughout the building, from the post-beam-slab -system in the structural frame to the exterior cladding. The building fits in the cityscape in respect to its size, which is closely related to the adjoining buildings. However, the clear form and the uniform materiality achieved through the extensive use of wood make it a distinct entity. A flexible column-beam-slab system was created for the building in a 7.2 m module. For the structure and building technology, 1.2 m modules have been prepared for flexible conversion. This solution makes it possible to move partition walls and even change the façade. The columns, beams and box slabs of the frame are made from fir glulam. The height of the box slab intermediate floors is that of a concrete intermediate floor. The façade elements have been clad with vertical fir planks on the outside and plywood on the inside. The vertical ribs of the outer frame are made of fir glulam.
The building has been realized as a single fire section. It has been equipped with sprinklers and fire alarms. The laboratory facilities and the majority of the wet spaces have been located on the bottom floor to control dampness and for flexible conversion. The narrow frame depth illuminates the facilities, ensuring that they are enjoyable and comfortable. This research institute is the first modern wooden office building in Finland. A wooden column-beam-slab structure has never been attempted before on this scale. The exterior is clad with fir planks and glulam fir-ribs.