- Cabinetry Design: Heikki Paso
- Collaborators: Joenkodin Rakentajat, Glass Technology
- Cross Laminated Timber: Hoisko CLT
- Glass Technology: Finnglass
- General Contractor : Lahden Puurakentajat
- City: Kontiolahti
- Country: Finland
‘Meteorite’ designed by Ateljé Sotamaa is a residential building located in seemingly remote Kontiolahti in eastern Finland. Approached on foot through the woods – as preferred by the architect – it appears a mystical dark object among the trees. The inside of this ultra-modern, ecological, three-storey wood building, however, is another world of open interconnected rooms that integrate with the surrounding landscape.
In the middle of the polyhedron-shaped Meteorite, a tall atrium with a large 10 sq. m. skylight provides an unobstructed view of the stars. Another unique feature of the house is a catamaran net at a height of seven meters on which the residents can “float” to stimulate creative thinking. Meteorite is made of prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, it is insulated by air, and uses natural ventilation. The building that has captured close to 60 tons of carbon dioxide into its materials is introduced to the public for the first time in an exhibition at the Olympic Stadium of Helsinki during Helsinki Design Week.
“Meteorite is not a large house, but on the inside, it represents a completely new 3-dimensional open-concept way of organizing living space,” says Ateljé Sotamaa co-founder Kivi Sotamaa. “Unlike traditional houses where each room has a specific predetermined purpose, Meteorite’s architecture supports more dynamic relationships of its residents and a variety of life situations. Digital design and new prefabrication and construction technologies enable the creation of unique, aesthetically high-quality ecological wood buildings that add experiential value to their locations.”
The building was originally designed to function as a guesthouse for Ulla-Maaria Koivula, founder and CEO of education technology provider ThingLink based in Palo Alto, California, on her grandparents’ old homestead in rural Karelia of Finland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires raging in California, however, her family has decided to live in and work from the province more or less full-time.
"Every building materializes our relationship with the natural environment,” Koivula says. ”My inspiration to have a unique wood house built in this country sprouted from the rocky hills and rugged woods of Koli, rich in erratic boulders that also served Finland’s defense during the Winter War. Meteorite reflects the connection my soul has to Finnish nature, and looking through one of its large windows to the misty fields around takes me back to the calm days of childhood. We use the house as a creative space for remote work, hobbies, and hanging out together. In the old days, families gathered into a large horizontal kitchen space to be together; we now interconnect vertically with each other and with the surrounding nature. In this time and age with effective telecommunications and speed trains to the metropolitan region, this is a paradise for us to get settled into the good life.”
Healthy low-carbon building made of prefabricated components. At best, the massive wood walls of Meteorite contain 4 metres of air insulation, and all building services engineering and technology is hidden inside the walls. Inside the house, there is light Nordic wood all around, no plastic anywhere in the structure, and nothing prone to moulding. The roof, too, is of solid wood, oiled to resist the elements and age beautifully. The large windows bringing in nature are all electrically heated.
”This was a unique project also in terms of structural design and detailing,” says Ahti Rantonen, managing director of structural engineering at Vahanen Group that provides engineering consultancy for landmark projects such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and Musiikkitalo of Helsinki. ”We are delighted about cooperation with Ateljé Sotamaa and hope there will be more opportunities to work on top wood construction projects in the future, regardless of their locations. Important aspects involved include low carbon impact and healthy building. The living experience in Meteorite will be very close to that of a traditional log house with all artificial materials eliminated. Another key element is the digital design and fabrication process. All parts of the house can be prefabricated and assembled on the construction site, which means they need to be computer-modelled on a highly detailed level and delivered on site just on time.”