Nordic Waste Wood for Good

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Olga Popovic Larsen Project Leader

Royal Danish Academy

Xan Browne Project Coordinator Royal Danish Academy


Pasi Aalto Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Berit Nilsen Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Mark Hughes Aalto University

Roberto Crocetti

Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (KTH)

Alison Martin Weaver, Italy


Thorbjørn Lønberg Petersen Royal Danish Academy

Hector Grundtdal Grønborg Royal Danish Academy

Ariel Lim

Royal Danish Academy

Saara Kantele Aalto University

Jesper Vik NTNU

Fabian Meszaros Mykland NTNU

Vegard Forbergskog NTNU


Olga Popovic Larsen Chief editor

Xan Browne Co-editor

Hector Grundtdal Grønborg Editorial & Graphic design


Royal Danish Academy, Institute of Architecture and technology

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Aalto University

FONTS Futura PT Clear Sans


All photographs have been taken by students or staff at the asso ciated schools, unless otherwise stated.

Institut forbygnings-kunst ogteknologi

© March 2022


We are grateful for the support from the educational institu tions, the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, the Norwegian University of Science and Tech nology in Trondheim, and Aalto University in Espoo for their participation in the project and embedding the workshops into their respective curriculums.

The project was funded by the Nordic Culture Fund.

We are grateful for their gener ous support, which made this project possible.






Nordic Waste Wood for Good set out to develop a new cultural ex change where specialists and stu dents from a range of disciplines and backgrounds collaborate on a truly Nordic project related to architectural opportunities from waste wood. Through workshop participation they have taken part in developing new approaches to waste wood specific to the Nordic context, with a focus on architec ture and cultural values.


Over about two years, the project took place in the four Nordic coun tries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland within each of the partner institutions. The results are not limited to physical exist ence, also shared via a real-time online discussion platform. Finally the edited material is shared via this book publication.


Wood is an indigenous building material in the Nordic region with a rich cultural heritage, as well as playing an important role in work ing towards a carbon free future.

Waste wood is currently underuti lised in the Nordic region and the timber specialists in this project

see its cultural value as being under explored and an important factor for architectural formgiving.


The project ran as a series of workshops and exhibitions over 2 years. At each of the work shops, participants created 1200x1200mm panels using locally sourced waste wood. The process and results are document ed extensively using photography and film and this edited publication is a result of the work produced.


Nordic Waste Wood for Good is a project that links the architectural values of Nordic timber building culture with our contemporary tim ber material understanding, con centrating specifically on how we perceive material values beyond the commonly measured attrib utes. The main aim is to investi gate how novel approaches rooted in the Nordic wood building culture can inform new strategies and cre ate opportunities for building with waste wood. In this context waste wood should be understood as alnon-utilized wood with potential value, for instance off-cuts from industry and recovered wood from construction and demolition

processes. These are often regard ed as waste due to being too short, the wrong shape, are in limited quantity or contain contaminants such as nails or screws.

The project explores the un derstanding of perceived value of waste wood from a cultural perspective. This is an important aspect as the world moves towards more resource efficient and circu lar futures. The cultural, aesthetic and societal aspects are underde veloped in the current waste wood discourse, a direct result of a focus on purely technical assessments of the material, as seen when we

look at most of the scientific ma terial available today. By utilising waste wood in more creative and resource optimised ways, Nordic Waste Wood for Good contributes to a more holistic understanding of resource use in relation to societal values.

This study presents how a more holistic approach to the re-use of building materials might provide pathways of extending carbon storage in wood materials. Not because of their technical capac ity but because of the value given by society through ingenuity, introducing a mindset where ex

Figure 1/ Waste Wood Canopy

ploration, experimentation and an overarching will to re-use resourc es is cultivated. This is seemingly in opposition to the pre-defined and controlled pathways currently discussed in legislation, focusing on documentation, risk manage ment and technical aspects of re-use - possibly preventing rather than promoting future innovation in an effort to control present challenges.

Nordic Waste Wood for Good’s way of achieving the project aims is through creative hands-on work shops to explore a new aesthetic language of opportunities, rooted in the Nordic wood culture. The workshops link traditional crafting methods with the most up-to-date digital tools for design and wood fabrication, seeking to bridge cul ture and technique. The workshop explorations have been envisaged to be context specific to the Nordic participants and to the site-spe cific waste wood availability- each partner institution hosting the workshops. To create a continuum across four different contexts each with different disciplines, the out put for each workshop is a series of 1200x1200mm panels made from contextually available waste wood.

The richness of output with the new aesthetic language we believe, will link architectural values of Nordic timber building culture with our contemporary timber material understanding. The project seeks to promote a current day architec ture that is respectful of both the

material and the building culture, celebrating sensory qualities, creating forms and details that are contemporary whilst preserving the memory of the material and context. The works’ theoretical grounding is in New Materialism and Phenomenology, that “open up the possibility to explore how each (material) affects the other, and how things other than humans (a tool, technology or a building) can be social ‘agents’. The focus is on the significance of matter, a theme explored within Phenome nology in architecture, looking at the relation between architectural qualities and the senses.


Wood is a unique building material that continues to be an important resource in the Nordic Region, and with careful attention, will play an important role in working towards a carbon free future. Usage is set to increase due to a surge of inter est from politicians, policy makers, designers and the general public who reference its aesthetic and sensory characteristics as well as carbon storage, renewability and local availability. It is important to remember that timber originates from forests- home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity- as well as playing a significant role in regulating our climate. This project responds by investigating smarter ways of utilising all the wood we have, including leftovers, industri al waste and second-hand wood. In this we explore waste wood as a multi-generational material in

Figure 2/ Waste Wood Canopy close up

the physical sense, increasing the longevity of a piece of wood, thus giving a good material an extended life. This is a global opportunity for the Nordic Region to lead the way in exploration of innovative resource approaches.

We build on the existing cultural and technical knowledge, whilst addressing aspects that are lack ing. This project investigates with a more holistic approach, where the two channels are explored simultaneously –bridging culture and technique. This is achieved by exploring design opportunities through both traditionally used crafting methods and combin ing them with current day digital tools, as well as investigating the cultural values of the material within the same project. We believe that this approach is essential as it combines aspects in ways that

are more meaningful, where the results are integrated within an en vironmental/technical and cultural context with an aim of creating a greater impact.

Wood is celebrated for its en durance as well as its diverse sensory qualities. As a material it carries a memory of what it has been before, how it grew in nature to how it has been altered by its environment- these being reflected by its aesthetic and other sensory qualities, becoming a part of the building element, furniture or ob ject. Waste wood is often irregular with unusual dimensions, rather than shredding this diversity, this project explores approaches and solutions that embrace these qual ities. This contributes to a more resource responsible approach to building design and architecture.

Figure 3/

Typical opstacles in waste wood can be rot, mold, staining and as shown here; old wallpaper or paint.

In this context, the main purpose of the project is to create a more holistic understanding of the value of waste wood through exploring architectural, aesthetic and cultur al aspects, while keeping in mind the technical aspects. It serves as a starting point for future collabo rations towards a more complete understanding of resource use in society. This includes accomplish ing the following goals I-V:

I. Establish a robust starting point for Nordic collaboration within the project scope.

II. Combine architectural edu cation, research and practice in exploring a catalogue of opportu nities.

III. Understand and utilise the Nor dicness in wood culture.

IV. Create a real-time public forum for waste wood value discourse, both between participants, related professions and general public.

V. Collect, analyse and under stand the cultural significance and potential value of waste wood in architecture.


Olga Popovic Larsen Project Leader Xan Browne Project Coordinator


Pasi Aalto Berit Nilsen Mark Hughes Roberto Crocetti Alison Martin


Thorbjørn Lønberg Petersen Hector Grønborg Ariel Lim Saara Kantele Jesper Vik Fabian Meszaros Mykland Vegard Forbergskog


Olga Popovic Larsen Chief editor

Xan Browne Co-editor

Hector Grønborg Editorial design

For full credit list, see Credits page, p. 2

Funded by Nordisk Kulturfond



Workshop results are shared digitally in real time

NTNU, Trondheim



KTH, Stockholm

Project partners travel to other workshops to share their expertise







Students from four master pro grammes from the Institute of architecture and technology (IBT) took part in a two-day workshop in September 2021. Finding inspira tion from textures and tectonics across different areas of Copen hagen, the students had a day and a half to make their concepts a reality. Working hands-on from the beginning, the available waste streams served as a parameter in defining what was possible. In between the making, three timber experts, Roberto Crocetti (timber

engineer), Magnus Wålinder (wood scientist), and Göran Pohl (timber architect) each gave their per spectives on timber reuse through a mini lecture series. Following this, groups developed their own niche, and designed unique panels, including modular systems, design for disassembly connections, natu ral treatments, and active facades. The days culminated in presenta tions and further discussions on reuse and the circularity of timber.

Mathilde Egeberg Hvidtfeldt / Sheila Koyo Møller / Michelle Lu Yeng Sun / Lasse fragtrup / Birgit Fløystad / Sofie Hybholt / Joachim Malchow-Møller / Lui Fischer / Sune Lund Bunke / Trine Strøm Grebstad / Anna Kirstine Stauersbøl Laustsen / Philip Lütken / Julie Ejlers / Simone Greve Larsen / Thea Ringmann Madsen / Frederik Stanley With / Stinus Bertelsen / Gabriel Solheim / Sander Løkkegaard Benner / Benjamin Meulengracht / Chih Wei Chan / Emma Maya Buchanan / Ida Møller Rasmussen / Malene Grimsgaard Loe / Olai Aarseth / Cecilie Sarah Schack Kristensen / Alina Matveenko / Sebastian Seipelt / Amalie Mogensen / Jakob Schou Krogstrup / Mathilde Kerma Ekholm Wallevik / Doris Lau /Marius Trier Krogh / Frederik Janum Friis / Magda Kasprzak / Marte Jensen Birkeland / Line / Can Koray Taskin / Ceasar Samolov / Anna Taarneby / Christel Madsen / Hans Arge Poulsen / Laurits Genz / Jesper Lunde Rasmussen / Georgios Dimopoulos / Majse Marie Nørhald / Jacqueline Yan / Johannes Torrång / Thorstein Rasmussen / Klara Elmdahl / Doruk Kayali / Janne Klausen / Peter Bundgaard / Pernille Hammer / Laurids Bager / Dejle Zaradesht / Christoffer Røen / Siri Braide / Xinyi Li / Laura Skjønberg / Armina Avdic / Lauritz Wagn Møller / You Wei Yen / Jerry Petersen / Camila Martínez / Konrad Sonne / Jesper Kevin Jensen / Xiaoyu Luo / Jonas Bockhoff Clausen / Andrew Smith / Bo Andersen / Oskars Lapsa / Selma Sandbu / Rune Tharaldsen / Maya Campbell / Rasmus Bjørn / Sivert Frost Støren / Gustav Engedal / Haider Majeed / Line Bruus / Lukas Junkel / Alex Buckthal / Hang Zhang / Damo Qiao / Declan Ericksen / Kasper Biltoft-Jensen / Anton Mailänder / Shiuan Dai / Birgit Fløystad / Joachim Keller / Jakob Nielsen / Ulrika Nilsson / Ferdinand Aagenæs / Malin Wolter / Marie Barfod / Ida Lykke Christensen / Frederik Lauge Jørgensen / Bjørn /

Xan Browne / Hector Grundtdal Grønborg / Thorbjørn Lønberg Petersen / Ariel Lim / Olga Popovic Larsen/ Göhran Pohl / Magnus Wålinder / Roberto Crocetti /

8th-9th of September,


This group decided to unify their waste wood with paint. Their point of depature was a red wooden warehouse in Copen- hagen. The warehouse had dif- ferently sized boards, but the red colour tieed the different widths together and gave the material a collective feel.


The paint that the group used on the boards consisted of natural red pigments and a buttermilk glue. This type of glue, along with casein based glues have been used long before the invention of

plastic binders. The paint on the bottom boards were enforced with a plastic based glue, as the bottom would recieve most weathering. This also created a dynamic be tween the two paints, as seen in figure 7.

The panel is a good example of how to balance biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials to maximize the qualities of both.

9 Figure 4/ Previous page: Waste wood panel from the Royal Danish Academy workshop Figure 5/ Panel made from pine and acetylated pine Figure 6/ Digital visualistation showing figure 5 in a larger scale
Figure 7/ Close up in sunlight Figure 8/ Waste pine used for the ‘tiles’ ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY
11 Figure 9/ Previous page: Photo from the Copenhagen workshop Figure 10/ Panel made from pine offcuts Figure 11/ Close up of figure 10 Figure 12/ Panel made from re claimed floorboards Figure 13/ Close up of figure 12


This panel showcases an innovative method for joining many, smaller pieces of wood together.

The small pine offcuts from Danish window production have been tied together using a natural string, creating a textile-like material.

At first glance the panel is like many of the others, a texture or structure, however this panel can move in both horizontal and verti cal directions.

This means the panel can morph into doubly curved surfaces, or re main flat as it is pictured here. This flexibility lends itself to a number possible applications, such as par titions. The panel could also bend to form self-standing patterns that are mounted on supports at certain points for stability.

Alternatively, the panel could be bent outward and mounted on poles, to create adaptable shading on facades.

13 Figure 14/ Previous page: Digital visualisation showing figure 12 in a larger scale Figure 15/ Panel made from pine offcuts Figure 16/ Close up of figure 15
Figure 17/ Close up of figure 15 ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY
ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY 16 Figure 18/ Page 14: Photo from the Copenhagen workshop Figure 19/ Previous page: Close up of figure 15 Figure 20/ Panel made from various offcuts. Figure 21/ Close up of figure 20 Figure 22/ Panel made from re claimed floorboards and acetylated wood Figure 23/ Close up of figure 20
Figure 24/ Previous page: Digital visualisation showing figure 22 in a larger scale Figure 25/ Panel made from re claimed floorboards and acetylated wood Figure 26/ Close up of figure 25 Figure 27/ Panel made from mixed offcuts Figure 28/ Close up of figure 27


Searching for inspiration around Copenhagen, this group came upon an old piece of wood, possibly a door. The group decided to work with the idea of found or reclaimed wood and work to fill in the gaps and crevaces found in the door.


Following the idea of found mate rial, the group only used offcuts from other groups also in the workshop. This resulted in a play ful process where the group mem bers sat around the

fractured door and slowly came up with different shapes and struc tures based around what they had find. The process resulted in this expressive panel, that tells an interesting story of both the found door and the workshop offcuts. A process that also demonstrates a highly playful way of creating a facade.

This might not be easily scalable, however the process itself inspires a playful approach to creating a facade.

Panel made from a reclaimed piece of wood and mixed offcuts.
Figure 30/
Close up of figure
31/ Close
of figure 29 Figure 32/ Close
of figure 29
20 Figure 33/ Panel made from mixed offcuts Figure 34/ Close up of figure 33 Figure 35/ Panel made from re claimed floorboards and acetylated wood Figure 36/ Close uå of figure 35


“Any architect dreams of hoisting something in their lifetime.”

- Groupmember

This group was inspired by old warehouses with heavy wooden shutters and the way in which some fold onto themselves, rather than simply opening out.

What this allows for is a gradual opening process that also incre mentally shades the opening. This application could work in spaces where direct sunlight can be an issue. As well as offering very in

cremental adjustments to the light level. This could be in offices, artist workshops or other places where lighting requirements are particu larly sensitive.

Furthermore, the incorporation of the shutter into the rest of the facade creates a seamless and co herent look both whilst open and closed. It makes the window feel incorporated rather than added to the facade.

22 Figure 37/ Previous page: Close up of figure 33 Figure 38/ Panel made from re claimed floorboards. Figure 39/ Close up of figure 39
Figure 40-43/ Panel at various stages of opening ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY
23 Figure 44/ Panel made from pine offcuts and re claimed floorboards Figure 45/ Close up of figure 44 Figure 46/ Panel, or insect hotel, made from various materials including accoya and reclaimed wood. Figure 47/ Close up of figure 46


Inspired by the corrugated struc ture of sheet pile walls, this group set out to create a self supported panel.

The panel consists of rows of joined cut up floorboards that then stack onto each other with no fastenings.

This makes it possible to dis assemble and reassemble the panel as a modular system.

Applications for this could be at festivals or other places where a selfsupported wall needs to stand

temporarily. With minor tweeks this structure could also be fas tened at the ground, making it a fairly robust wall.

This panel does not shy away from the visual inconsistency of reclaimed floorboards. The group used white painted pieces to break up the pattern created by the structure and in some places lined up the paint. In a sense, this curates the defect, showcasing it as an opportunity.

Figure 48/ Panel made from reclaimed pine floor boards. Figure 49/ Close up of figure 48 Figure 50/ Close up of figure 48 Figure 51/ Close up of figure 48 ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY
26 Figure 52/ Previous page: Digital visualisation showing figure 48 in a larger scale Figure 53/ Photo from the Copenhagen workshop Figure 54/ Photo from the Copenhagen workshop


At a time when humanity is consuming the Earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate, can we afford to think of any material as “waste” if it still retains some potential utility?

The answer surely must be an emphatic no! But how to change this paradigm, when our current economic system relies primarily on the linear throughput of mate rials to fuel continued, unsustain able, growth and when we regard materials and products that reach the end of their lives simply as trash? Despite the recognition that we should transition to a circu lar economy, progress towards circularity is painfully slow. This is highlighted by the fact that, glob ally, we are currently only 8.6% circular (Circle Economy 2020). Of all the materials that we use, wood is, arguably, one of the least valued – perhaps because it is so ubiquitous, so commonplace, so familiar – yet there are compel ling reasons for adopting circular thinking in our use of wood. It is now time to rethink our view of wood waste and to re-imagine what can be done with it.

Around half of all extracted materi als are used in the construction of buildings (European Commission 2004) and almost 50% of waste generated in the EU is accounted for by construction and demoli tion activities (Eurostat 2018). In addition to the material resources consumed, and wastes generat ed, buildings and construction account for over a third of final energy use and almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissions (UN Environment and International En ergy Agency 2017). Buildings and construction clearly have a huge impact, and urgent measures need to be taken.

As a building material, wood has excellent potential to reduce the climate impact of construction and it has been speculated that the widespread adoption of wood in the construction of mid-rise build ings, could be used to transform the building sector from a carbon source to a sink (Churkina et al 2020). Every ton of wood stores approximately 1.8 tons of seques tered atmospheric carbon dioxide, until it decomposes or is burned and, when substituting energy intensive, non-renewable, miner

al-based materials, in functionally equivalent roles, the emissions associated with their production are partly displaced (since the production of wood is generally less greenhouse gas emissions in tensive) leading to additional sub stitutive benefits of around 1.2 kg carbon reduction in emissions per kg carbon wood used (Leskinen et al 2018). Although wood is the most abundant renewable build ing material known to humanity, increased demand for wood prod ucts might affect future biomass availability and result in reduced carbon dioxide sequestration by forests as well as biodiversity loss.

Jonsson et al (2021) have recently highlighted that the positive cli mate change mitigation benefits of wood construction could be offset by reduced carbon sinks in EU for ests which could lead to knock-on effects beyond EU borders, if de mand increases significantly. How then to maximize the supply of wood for building, within the limits of sustainable forest management?

One way is to increase the recircu lation of wood through a cascade approach (Hughes 2019). In a cascade, wood is first reused in applications that are commensu rate with the quality of the mate

Figure 55/ Class A waste wood

rial, before being used in subse quent applications requiring lesser quality. Currently though, rather than cascading, most wood re covered from demolition is burned for energy and so all potential for material applications is lost. In a cascade, the aim is to maximise the utility of all quality “fractions” in material forms before recovering the energy content.

In 2019, global production of sawnwood and wood-based panels was approximately 840 million cu bic metres (FAO, 2021) and whilst not all this material ends up in buildings, a sizable proportion will do. More detailed national studies have shown that, for example, in Austria the current stock of wood in residential buildings is approx imately 32 Mm3 that is forecast to rise to over 50 Mm3 by 2100 (Kalcher et al 2017) and in Fin land it has been established that around 17.5 million tons of wood are incorporated in the structures of residential houses (Nasiri et al 2021). Such studies show that there is an appreciable resource of secondary material that could be utilized in new applications. Research also demonstrates that cascading can improve resource efficiency (Risse et al 2017) and that, through the reuse of wood products, the environmental bur den of wood construction can be reduced (Niu et al 2021). Whilst wood use strategies yielding the best overall reduction in environ mental impact and climate change mitigation impact will be depend ent on local conditions, such as

local building practices, logistics, repurposing facilities, and infra structure, cascading could add substantially to the eco-efficiency of buildings. So, why is cascading not more widespread?

Perhaps some of the more press ing reasons why cascading is not more widespread are that there is currently no large-scale market for recycled wood products, other than for energy, nor infrastructure to sort and process recovered wood. Other factors inhibiting wood cascading are concerns over the availability and quality of recovered wood. A recent study (Husgafvel et al 2018) conclud ed that in Finland the current prospects for wood cascading are limited, because of concerns about cost effectiveness, industrial scala bility, and profitability, in addition to quality and material charac teristics, such as cleanliness and dimensions. Concerns over quality and material characteristics can largely be traced back to the way wood is used in buildings and how they are subsequently demolished at end-of-life.

Currently, most demolitions are carried out using heavy mechani cal equipment that results in sig nificant damage to the wood ma terial, reducing its dimensions and making it less suitable for reuse (Figure 1). Coupled with contam ination in the form of wood treat ments or coatings and combined with other materials, the quality of wood recovered from demolitions is generally lower than it might po

Figure 56/ Wood at waste man agement site

tentially be, and as a result, even wood that could be reusable is generally chipped for burning with energy recovery. Despite this, even now the quality of wood recovered from demolished buildings is such that it could be cascaded in solid wood form (Sakaguchi et al 2017).

To increase the recoverability of wood from buildings at end-of-life, ideally, they would be dismantled rather than demolished. Howev er, the additional costs involved currently makes this an unlikely proposition, since apart from a few niche applications, there is no established market for cas

caded wood and so there is little incentive to recover wood material by dismantling. To increase the recovery of high-quality wood, we should adopt new ways of design ing buildings for adaptation in use, as well as for deconstruction at end-of-life. This would involve a radical shift in building design and construction from the current lin ear model, in which buildings are generally demolished and virtually no material is recirculated, to a cir cular one, which retains the quality of the wood materials as much as possible for reuse.

The design of wooden buildings

with future disassembly in mind has been the subject of several recent research projects, such as InFutUReWood.

How then do we establish wide spread wood cascading? In the im mediate future, a significant source of material will be the buildings already in existence, and the quality and dimensions of wood recovered from these will depend on whether they are dismantled or demolished. With the development of new wood products and wood structures that can incorporate recovered wood, we should find viable alternative ways of utilizing material that would otherwise be chipped and burned, thus creating new cascading markets. In the short-term we are, however, faced with a “chicken and egg” dilemma. Without a market for the recov ered material, how do we incen tivize the dismantling of buildings rather than demolishing them, and without a reliable source of good quality material from dismantling how do we establish a market in the first place?

Policy and fiscal incentives will undoubtedly help establish such a market, whilst regulation and standards will be required for such second life wood products to promote consumer acceptance. To establish cascading at scale, we perhaps need to create new eco systems of stakeholders, ecosys tems that currently do not exist. This could be achieved through the establishment of demonstrator projects that bring together new

constellations of enterprises and other actors.

Perhaps most importantly of all, we need to change our percep tion of wood “waste” and start to consider it as a valuable resource.

In our recently completed “Re-im agining Wood Waste” course, held at Aalto University, perhaps one of the most striking outcomes of the students’ work was that viable uses could be found for all quality fractions of demolition wood, not only the better-quality material. This gives us confidence that not only can we utilize so-called waste wood for a diversity of useful application, but that we can, and should, re-evaluate what we con sider waste!

Figure 57/ Wood at waste man agement site


Churkina, G., Organschi, A., Reyer, C.P.O., Ruff, A., Vinke, K., Liu, Z., Reck, B.K., Graedel, T.E. and Schellnhuber, H.J. (2020). Buildings as a global carbon sink. Nature Sustainability, 3, 269–276.

European Commission (2004). Communication from the Commis sion - Towards a thematic strat egy on the urban environment. COM/2004/0060 final. Brussels.

Eurostat (2018). Generation of waste by waste category, hazard ousness and NACE Rev. 2 activity. Eurostat.

FAO (2021). FAO Yearbook of Forest Products 2019. https://doi. org/10.4060/cb3795m

Circle Economy (2020) The Circularity Gap Report 2020. Available at: https://assets. cf348400ed82/5e26ead616b 6d1d157ff4293_20200120%20

-%20CGR%20Global%20-%20 Report%20web%20single%20 page%20-%20210x297mm%20 -%20compressed.pdf. Addressed on 21.12.2021

Hughes, M. (2019). Cascad ing Wood, Materials Cycles and Sustainability. In: “Rethinking Wood: Future Dimensions of Timber Assemblies”. Eds. Mark us Huddert and Sven Pfeiffer. Birkhauser, Basel. https://doi.


Husgafvel, R., Linkosalmi, L., Hughes, M., Kanerva, J. and Dahl, O. (2018). Forest sector circular economy development in Finland: a regional study on sustainabili ty driven competitive advantage and an assessment of the po tential for cascading recovered solid wood. Journal of Clean er Production, 181, 483–497. pro.2017.12.176

Jonsson, R., Rinaldi, F., Pilli, R., Fiorese, G., Hurmekoski, E., Cazza niga, N., Robert, N. and Camia, A. (2021). Boosting the EU For est-Based Bioeconomy: Market, Climate, and Employment Impacts. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 163, 120478. fore.2020.120478

Kalcher, J. Praxmarer, G. and Teischinger, A. (2017) Quantifi cation of future availabilities of recovered wood from Austrian res idential buildings. Resources Con servation and Recycling, 123, 143152. resconrec.2016.09.001

Leskinen, P., Cardellini, G., González-García, S., Hurmekoski, E., Sathre, R., Seppälä, J., Smyth, C., Stern, T. and Verkerk, P.J. (2018). Substitution effects of wood-based products in climate change mitigation. From Science to Policy 7. European Forest Insti tute. fs07

Nasiri, B., Piccardo, C. and Hughes, M. (2021) Estimating the mate rial stock in residential houses in Finland. Waste Management, 135, November 2021, 318-326. man.2021.09.007

Niu, Y., Rasi, K., Hughes, M., Halme, M. and Fink G. (2021). Prolong ing life cycles of construction materials and combating climate change by cascading: The case of reusing timber in Finland. Re sources, Conservation & Recycling 170 (2021) 105555. https:// rec.2021.105555

Risse, M., Weber-Blaschke, G. and Richter, K. (2017). Resource efficiency of multifunctional wood cascade chains using LCA and exergy analysis, exemplified by a case study for Germany. Re sources Conservation and Re cycling 126, 141-152. https:// rec.2017.07.045

Sakaguchi, D., Takano, A. and Hughes, M. (2017). The potential for cascading wood from demol ished buildings: potential flows and possible applications through a case study in Finland. International Wood Products Journal 8(4): 208215. 426445.2017.1389835

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Two groups from the Royal Danish Academy September workshop were invited to develop larger scale versions of their panels.

The first, pictured here, explored the modular potential of their system, and found that they could create a variety of self-supporting wall forms using identical modular elements.

Both projects were exhibited at Building Green, a large sustaina bility event in Copenhagen, after which the exhibition continued in a new format at the Royal Danish Academy.

Threaded panel: Simone Greve Larsen / Sebastian Bernhard Seipelt / Malin Wolter / Joachim Jellesmark Malchow-Møller / Self standing panel: Emma Maya Buchanan / Janne Vinther Klausen / Pernille Hammer / Sander Løkkegaard Benner / 30th of October to 2nd of November, 2021 STUDENTS Xan Browne / Thorbjørn Lønberg Petersen / Olga Popovic Larsen / Hector G. Grønborg / STAFF

Figure 58/

Previous page:

A larger version of the self supported panel. Exhibited in foyer at the Royal Danish Academy

Figure 59/

A larger version of the self supported panel. Exhibited in foyer at the Royal Danish Academy

Figure 60-62/ Process photos ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY
Figure 64/ A larger version of the threaded wood panel, exhibited at Building Green Figure 63/ A larger version of the threaded wood panel. Exhibited in foyer at the Royal Danish Academy ROYAL DANISH ACADEMY


Wood is a widely familiar build ing material that has re-entered the limelight as the construction material of the future. This is no surprise, given the increasing focus on sustainability and wood’s potential to be a renewable build ing resource. However, this re newability is dependent on timber having longer service lives, that go beyond the regeneration period of trees. Renewability calls for re jecting short term applications and energy recovery as sustainable applications of timber and recog nise that biobased resources are not infinitely abundant. This notion requires alternative approaches to design, with an increased consid eration for post-consumer wood, material that is most often burned for energy recovery.

Putting the material at the centre of the equation shifts the tradition al role of the designer. It asks how we can collaborate with material individuality, rather than relying on processing methods that try to force natural materials to meet industrial standards. These pro cessing methods strive to achieve repeatable standards by removing many of wood’s natural occurrenc

es. In the case of waste wood’s in dividuality, the material embodies both its natural history as a tree in the form of knots and grain. As well as the cultural layers obtained from the moment it was sawn into construction lumber, to additions and adaptions from its service life, such as fastening holes and nails. What if we were to include these individually specific traits as active contributors to future design sce narios?

The Nordic Waste Wood for Good project has been about exactly this, putting the material in ques tion at the centre, and fostering a multi-cultural and multi-discipli nary exploration into what it might become. Through embracing the material individuality, there has emerged a greater resolution of specificity regarding the material in question, and design outcomes. This melting pot has included many of the actors capable of cre ating a future with a less wasteful practice of timber.

Emerging policy aims to catalyse the sustainability potential of wood through legislation that requires timber use in future buildings. In

effect, this prescribes a material as a solution to the climate crisis, rather than encouraging best practices. In Europe today we are a long way from best practices, as wood is typically only used once in its solid form, before being converted into particle-based products or burned for energy recovery. This is a wasteful use of wood, an outcome resulting mostly by the heterogeneity of the waste stream. Alongside manmade con taminants, timber’s form changes over time in response to its local conditions. Wood is generally resistant to standardisation, and therefore channelling waste wood

into the existing building appli cations for timber have proved to show little scalable potential thus far. Industrial approaches togeth er with unfavourable legislation, disrespectful of timber’s heteroge neity remain the main barriers for reuse. Not surprising, waste wood remains low in cultural and eco nomic value, a paradigm that we should challenge if the material’s potential is to be fully realised.

The beam prototype aims to include the traits that we cur rently consider defects, as agents in creating new approaches to timber architecture. The proto

Figure 65/ Waste wood beam prototype

type demonstrates part of a long span structural system made from short pieces of timber, with the individuality of the elements preserved in the process. This approach respects the qualities of the parts, whilst creating an assembly that can be utilised as a functional building component. It is inspired by a construction system developed by the Swedish Engineer Hilding Brosenius, that was applied to many long span roof structures across Europe in the early to mid 1900s. Brosenius’ structural members that consisted of nailed together small/slender timber elements, were not suited for disassembly. Unlike them the proposed beam is not glued nor nailed and can be disassembled into its component parts, retain ing the possibility for the wood to biodegrade, returning its nutrients to the soil for future growth.

The Waste Wood beam relies on the individual wood pieces to share and transfer the load to the beam supports. So, although the pieces of wood remain as individual ele ments, structurally they perform together securing a continuous load-path. However, if one were to fail, the beam would remain stable as long as the continuity of the load transfer is ensured. Without doing any complex topological optimisation – due to the inherent redundancy in the beam, the beam can still work even if some of the timber pieces are not functioning. As an approach, this differs from monolithic components, that can give confidence in using a waste

material where there is less certainty of the material per formance.

Short lengths are frequent ly cited as a non-desirable characteris tic of timber waste streams and considered unusable for any meaningful structural applications. Currently, at best, they are used in glued structures as glue-laminat ed, cross-laminated or linear mem bers made by finger jointing, all relying on fossil-based adhesives. Although relatively inexpensive, gluing processes have an environ mental impact and to some degree alter the structural behaviour of a timber element.

Focusing on the potential bene fits of short timber elements and designing having the material properties in mind, they could be even considered to offer potential structural advantages. Small in size they are less likely to feature critical structural defects such as large knots and in the circum stance that they do, a piece can be rejected without losing large quan tities of the material resource.

In addition, the beam proto type also explores incorporating the inherited material traits by preserving the visual diversity of the elements. Current methods for processing timber, such as

Figure 66/ Cross section and isometric view of the beam, as seen in figure 65.
“[...] although the pieces of wood re main as individual elements, structurally they perform together securing a continuous loadpath.”

planing, removes the surface of the material. As a method, when applied to waste wood it removes the nuanced qualities that have evolved during the element’s life time.

The prototype on the other hand, exposes the visual heterogeneity, creating fully functioning struc tural member with a distinctive aesthetic. Recognising that the pieces have had a previous life and framing these in a new ‘whole’ challenges the dichotomy of new and used. It embodies the relation ship between time and resourc es, communicated through the textures and colours of each of the individual pieces. This prototype example is de signed to be of standard di mensions, demonstrating that non-standard pieces (the waste wood) can be assembled into standard components. By being non-specific to a building design, the beam has the potential to be utilised in many building applica tions over time.

A structural beam is an ancient component typology, that has stood the test of time in both vernacular and contemporary ar chitecture. It is therefore proposed that genericness can increase a component’s resilience to time, furthering the potential lifespan of the material. This extension of the wood’s useful life reduces the pressure on forests and works towards buildings and serving as anthropogenic carbon stores.

As we move towards a future of biobased building resources, the increased pressure on materials such as wood must be met with renewed building practices. By broadening our wood-based solu tions and considering the agency of a material as it is inherited, we are better equipped to utilise the material effectively, and capitalise on its many incredible character istics more widely and for longer. Furthermore, utilising waste wood in structural applications reduc es the need for virgin wood and/ or other mineral based structural materials.This contributes towards a sustainable biobased building practice, with wood’s agency at the centre of resource renewabil ity.

36 Figure
67/ Waste wood beam mock up
68/ Waste wood beam mock up


Making wood-panels of re-used materials is tapping right into the circular mindset, and as a solution deserves our attention. For the panels to be produced, however, people must want to buy them, for a price making production profita ble. The private consumer there fore represents a part that must be on board, and we must understand what shapes people’s preferences and taste.

Liberating forces of modernity led to resourceful individuals having the freedom to choose how to live their lives. When a person’s occu pation, family, and home place no longer say who someone is, the in dividual’s choices instead become about identity construction. What a person chooses to consume to a large extent says something about who that person is, a process referred to as construction of narrative.

According to Pierre Bourdieu, how people construct this narrative is influenced by people’s desire to display distinction – or where they belong, or like to belong, and where they absolutely don’t want to belong socially. This distinc

tion refers to and to some extent displays the individual’s access to capital. Bourdieu talks of three forms of capital; economic, cultur al and social. The first describes people’s access to monetal capital. Cultural capital is about your em bodied and educational recours es, and is showing through your appearance, sociolect, references, education. Social capital refers to your network and social contacts. The before mentioned distrinction is the sum of how people show where they belong in the intersec tion of their economic, cultural and social capital, and consumption displays this to an ever increas ing degree. In short, if you have enough money, you can buy what you want. What you want will how ever be affected by your education, upbringing and type of work, and by your social surroundings and network. People with economic, cultural and social capital, are able to distinguish themselves through their consumption pattern from people who lack one or the other forms of capital.

People identify both on an individ ual and a social level, and research show that sustainable consump

tion can change accordingly, and also varyingly so according to gen der. When introducing a product to the marked, understanding how people’s perceptions are relat ed to their access to capital and narrative can in turn inform who might like a product, and how that affects price and demand. For the waste-wood-panels to succeed in a commercial market, they should appeal to a segment that is willing to pay a relatively high price to display their cultural, economic and social capital. Distinction in this context can be about distanc ing oneself from the ‘fossil gener ation’, to climate change deniers, to the uneducated and design-ig norant, to those bying mass-pro duced, unsustainable, imported timber, and the list could go on.

There is also a tendensy for highly resourceful individuals and groups,

to be trendsetters, meaning that if the panels are well received among them, they might trend, and become in demand in a broader spectre of the population. Taste in the mass market might resemble the high-end market, but the need for distinction is less prominent, and versions of the panels would likely succeed more in a somewhat ‘toned-down’ version. The price would also need to be lower.

Figuring out what different people find valuable and distinctive about the panels, is therefore of high importance both in the production and promotion of the panels.

Berit Nilsen Professor at NTNU Figure 69/ Waste wood stained by fungi.


At NTNU, the workshop formed part of the course Design in Context, where the aim was to run an architecture office as close to re ality as possible. The focus of the workshop was learning by doing and took departure from waste wood material gathered from Heggstadmoen recycling station and Moelven Glulam.

Opening with a lecture series and discussion, students were present ed with perspectives relating to wood and the value chain.

This included, Berit Nilsen, Jens Olgard Delseth Røyrvik, and Krist offer Nergård from NTNU Social Science, followed by carpenter Hallvar Skogmo, and circular econ omy advisor Marina Skanche from Loopfront. The student groups were quickly inspired by the waste wood material, and found virtue in the range of diversity. This showed itself in the resulting panels, where the individual creativity of the groups and material traits are displayed.

Martie Solhaug / Per Bernstein / Krzysztof Pietura / Martin Hamarsland / André N. Berlin / Sina M. Hasve / Kotryna Navickaite / Evelina Bart / Fabian Meszaros Mykland / Jesper Vik / Magnhild Sandbakken / Anders S. Hoel / Hallvar Skogmo / Martin Vilhelmson / Pasi Aalto / Berit Nilsen / Kristoffer Nergård / Vegard Forbergskog / Jens Olgard Delseth Røyrvik / Hallvar Skogmo / Marina Skanche / STUDENTS STAFF
September 2020
Figure 77/ Panel made from mixed boards Figure 78/ Close up of figure 77 NTNU Figure 75/ Panel made from profiled boards Figure 76/ Close up of figure 75
Figure 79/ Previous page: Digital visualisation showing figure 75 in a larger scale Figure 80/ Panel made from pine offcuts Figure 81/ Close up of figure 80 Figure 82/ Panel made from mixed boards Figure 83/ Close up of figure 82 NTNU
Figure 84/ Panel made from pine offcuts Figure 85/ Close up of figure 84 Figure 86/ Panel made from mixed boards Figure 87/ Close up of figure 86 NTNU
Figure 88/ Previous page: Photo from the NTNU workshop Figure 89/ Panel made from pine offcuts Figure 90/ Close up of figure 89 Figure 91/ Panel made from pine floorboards Figure 92/ Close up of figure 91 NTNU
47 Figure 93/ Previous page: Digital visualisation showing figure 91 in a larger scale Figure 94/ Photo from the Trondheim workshop Figure 95/ Photo from the Trondheim workshop NTNU


Increased use of wood in con struction is an important part of the solution to promote sustain able societal development. This could be achieved by replacing significant parts of steel and con crete, both of which are non-re newable materials.

At present we are facing climate change such as higher tempera tures with probable effects on the Nordic forests. Established find ings and simulations show that cli mate change is leading to a major change in terms of suitable wood species for future forestry. There are thus strong indications that the spruce will thrive worse and that this means a larger spread of deciduous species in the Nordic forest, mainly birch.

The potential in the Nordic coun tries is great to both plant and further process birch (and possibly other hardwoods) into products used for structural applications. Birch has much better strength properties than common soft woods that are traditionally used in constructions in the Nordic countries. Therefore, birch (and some other hardwood species that also grow in the Nordic coun tries, e.g. oak, beech and ash) are

particularly suitable for special applications, such as for connec tions that require higher material quality.


Compared to other building mate rials, timber has indisputable ad vantages in terms of environmen tal impact, aesthetics, lightness, formability and fire resistance. Moreover, the very high strengthto-weight ratio of timber makes it very suitable for large-span structures such as trusses, arches and frames. However, a major drawback of timber when used in heavy structures is the difficulty to achieve connections with adequate strength and stiffness.

There are a few connections available in the market place which allow the transmission of large forces from one member to anoth er in timber structures, perhaps the most common being the multi ple-shear steel-timber connection. This type of connection includes a number of steel plates allocated in slots made in the timber members - the transmission of shear be tween steel and timber occurring by means of steel dowels.

Both the steel plates and the

timber parts must be predrilled in advance with very small tolerances for misalignment of the holes. This requires a very high degree of ac curacy and not seldom it leads to errors that need to be mended at the building site, e.g. by enlarging the holes at the timber parts, thus reducing both the strength and the stiffness of the connection. Moreover, a relatively large amount of steel is needed for the manu facture of such connections, which negatively affects the environmen tal impact.

It is therefore highly interest ing to investigate the possibility of “modernizing” the tradition al multiple-shear steel-timber connection by reducing the amount of steel and at the same time making it less sensitive to tolerances. An idea, which is currently being investigated at KTH-Stockhom, is that the tradi tional multiple-shear steel-timber connection can be redesigned by replacing the steel plates and the dowels with timber based gusset plates and full-threaded screws or dowels, respectively. By doing so, and by creating several shear planes, connections with strength and stiffness adequate for heavy timber structures, e.g. trusses,

arches, portal frames, etc. would be possible.

A further technique which is planned to be investigated within shortly is the possibility of bonding the birch plywood plates to the timber members. By doing so, very high strength and stiffness can be achieved at the connections, with reduced production costs. For moderate to long span (up to approximately 40 m), the timber material adopted for the structural elements could be individual piec es of structural lumber. For larger spans, elements of either re-sawn glulam, unidirectional LVL or ordi nary glulam are more suitable.


Finally, it is also necessary to find production methods that use the wood material in a more resource-efficient way. These methods must be effective in terms of the amount of material used but also in terms of simple factory pro duction and simple, fast and high precision assembling on construc tion sites. Preferably, the adopted materials/ structural members should also be easy to reuse or recycle

Figure 96/ Technical drawing showing wood in the custom connections


Public bodies, the building industry and private consumers are all driving a societal change where waste is becoming a resource. In the case of wood, the discourse in cludes carbon storage and growth of new forests, the technical deg radation of wood in buildings, doc umentation requirements and the necessary processes of re-testing - just to name a few. The common denominator for the discourses is the need to guarantee a minimum level of safe re-use of wood so that we can curb our emissions and use of resources - a very important goal.

The devil, however, is in the de tails. Re-using wood in practice has proven to be difficult. At the moment, three distinct approaches are emerging.

Firstly, a skilled and highly effec tive team consisting of architects, engineers, carpenters and project owners can approach an existing building, analyse it and through dialogue establish the processes needed to re-use its elements and materials in another building cur rently underway.

Secondly, some buildings do not yet have a home when they are

ready for dismantling, making it necessary to store materials and elements. This introduces re-use as a marketplace but has to strike a fine balance between high land prices near development or high transport costs and emissions if the storage is located further away.

Finally, a digitally dependent op tion exists where existing buildings are mapped while still standing to create comprehensive databases of potentially re-usable materials.

In practice, all three approach es are utilised as a combined framework for supporting re-use processes. However, much of the ongoing innovation, especially driven by young, environmentally conscious start-ups, is focused on the digital tools that deal with data collection, storage and sharing. These wonderful new tools provide the necessary platforms to docu ment the necessary data for struc tural calculations, emissions, fire resistance - as well as the location and availability of the materials or elements themselves.

While developing at a (necessary) rapid pace, the digital tools are still based on the mindset of nec

essary data for enabling re-use as well generic categories of build ing products. A piece of wood is documented as just that, a generic piece of wood that should hold up to some technical standards in order to be re-used. The tools do not account for the history and cultural significance of the wood, be that visible or invisible. For the sake of argument, consider a fine wine that not only is meticulously described in terms of both quan titative and qualitative aspects at the time of bottling, but also ea gerly discussed over the following years in terms of the changes the it goes through. In contrast, our

current approach to Wood re-use is that of trying to convince every one the wine has not changed, at least not enough to be poisonous. What is fitting with a comparison to wine, is that a few decades ago, many of the wine regions that are considered extremely valuable today, were being uprooted and redeveloped - grapes had no value and were considered a waste. Now, the qualities over time account for a large part of the value created. While stored wine is not poison ous, the bar was set higher by pi oneers and innovators, making the industry what it is today. We can learn much from the mindset.

Figure 97/ Glulam offcuts at a norwegian manufacturer

As we do not yet understand the causalities, nor the individual po tentials within this new landscape of potential, the first approach to exploring it is massive experimen tation combined with open sharing of results. Established companies can be open about their business models and what would be needed for them to change towards more circularity, both in the short and long term. Similarly, start-ups should be given arenas to pres ent, test and develop their ideas in collaboration with others to promote a steady stream of testing new ideas. The public will have an important role both as lawmaker, but also a significant purchaser of products and services that can prioritise innovation and nurture early phase development.

However, a large responsibility must be placed on our educational system. The introduction of re-use into projects requires new knowl edge, skills and competence. This includes the systematic research required to establish the required knowledge in each domain and the pedagogic and didactic approach es to encourage student learn ing. Ultimately, the goal needs to be more people in society that can participate in the necessary change towards a low-carbon circular society. In this future, the re-use of resources, such as wood, is central.

resources at a larger level has to be consid ered a wicked problem that has great many dynamics and unknowns, engaging in a hands-on project with clear goals and an explora tive approach seems to work well in motivating students and their learning. This creates a good foundation to engage in more complex aspects of re-use later on. Combining this with not only research, but also a culture of creativity shows that a multifacet ed experimentation will likely yield most early ideas the fastest.

Finally, there must be a good interplay between actors. The goal must be a strive towards a more circular use of our resourc es, but this must be done through collaboration. Many of the changes within re-use are structural in na ture as well as having a definitive cultural aspect. Experimentation will create spearheads, values will create targets, but collaboration will definitely be the great mover.

Of the current teaching practices, problem based learning shows great promise. While re-use of

Figure 98/ Mixed waste wood from the NTNU workshop
“However, a large responsibility must be placed on our educational system. The introduction of re-use into projects requires new knowl edge, skills and competence.”



Not to see the forest for the trees is a Finnish saying, and it seems to be our challenge as well. To a na tion long dependent on the forest industry, a welfare state built upon economic growth and exports based on wood products, for ests have traditionally be viewed first and foremost as a material resource. 92% of Finnish forest area is classified for economic use and around 97 % of this managed by even aged forestry (2020), in which a forest is regrown af ter end cut. This has been the post-war approach; to maximise wood production with little room to consider other forest values.

Attitudes are changing though, along with diversification of the sources of Finnish GDP: topical conversation highlights forest bio diversity, the values of old forests and appropriate harvesting levels. Moreover, studies show that Finns would generally reduce harvesting volume and limit the clearcuttings and even of the forest owners only half generally approve of clearcut ting, with 3/4 approving of them on occasion (PTT 2020). These kind of views and opinions are still often seen as ‘soft’, ‘emotional’ and unprofitable.

Why do we care, and why is it ok to care?

The abundance of wood, of for ests, in the Nordic region makes it easy for us to see wood as an endless resource. Forests are everywhere, of Finnish land area 3/4 is covered by forests (Minis try of agriculture and forestry of Finland). It is easy to see wood as a sustainable, renewable resource, and perhaps more difficult to find reasons to restrain its use or to limit harvesting. At the same time, it is reality that we should reduce our use of fossil-based materials e.g. different plastics and the use of textiles, such as cotton, the growth of which is environmentally damaging. Wood-based products are presented as environmental alternatives to these. It may also be argued that if the wood-based materials are not produced in the Nordics, they are imported from regions with less responsible forestry practices instead. This is a genuine threat. Why then not to solve these problems by increasing the use of wood – a local renew able material that we have plenty of?


It is true that we have a lot of trees in the Nordic region. The severe global deforestation problems, with over 178 million hectares of forest gone since the 1990’s, are mainly realising in the tropical forests (Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020). The Nordic forest utilising problems do lie elsewhere and are perhaps less obvious to spot.

The biodiversity loss is an ongoing tragedy and despite internation al agreements the tide has not yet turned. Most Finnish species are dependent on forest ecosys

tems. Of Finnish species, the ones that are well known enough to be evaluated, 11,9% are endan gered, a figure that is growing. The most significant factors affecting this being changes in the forest biotopes – most commonly due to renewal of forests, cultivation methods, and a decrease in old forests, large trees, and rotten wood. Moreover, in Finland re gionally, many forest species have endangered or extinct populations, such as the Siberian jay, which has almost gone from the other parts of the country apart from Lapland (Hyvärinen at al, The red book of Finnish nature 2019).

Figure 99/ Cultural forest landscape at Koli Photo: Saara Kantele

The gross harvest of Finland has been growing substantially during the last decade. After being around 60 million m3 at 2009 it has grown rapidly to a pre-pandemic peak of 78 million m3 in 2018, and 69 million m3 in 2020 (LUKE). And there is hunger for more, if the pandemic ceases to hinder export. The National Resource Institute of Finland has calculated that there is potential to increase the harvest, with the largest maintainable harvest level for the next decade being 80,5 million m3 yearly.

Meanwhile, there is general debate on the sustainable harvest level. The increased wood harvesting affects the forests’ ability to func tion as carbon sink. Even taking into account the carbon negative impact using wood products (sim ilar to current way), a simulation research suggests (Seppälä et al 2019) that to increase the average Finnish harvest volume even to a level below the year 2018 volume would present a challenge to the climate change mitigation poten tial due to the shrinking forest car bon sink. This happening during’ the decades most relevant to battle the climate change may have severe consequences. The EU forest strategy has taken a related approach, advising the member countries to retain the forest carbon sink volume at the level of 2000–2009, which for Finland means total harvest of 60 million m3. Extensive harvest also con tributes to other forest depend ent livelihoods e.g., the rapidly growing nature tourism, and the

recreational use of forests. Due balancing the climate and heatlhy ecosystems, and acting as a major carbon sink, forests are vital to human existence on the planet. At the same time, they are complicated entities with also intrinsic value, a network of interacting species rather than an arrangement of trees. Forests have been covering the planet since Devonian period 370 million years ago, and the majority of the existing fauna and flora, humans included, have develop into the biotopes they have created. Surely this calls for some respect.


We need a holistic approach to for ests. There are boundaries to the use of forest resources. Our silvi culture needs to take into account the multiple values of the forests. For maintaining healthy ecosys tems, to using wood sustainably, we need to define what we mean by sustainable forestry. In the Nordic context it is easy to claim that our forest management is already sustainable, as suggested earlier though, we are sometimes too close to see the whole image. For our forestry to be sustainable, we need diversity to management of the forests, e.g., increasingly the use of continuous cover forestry, and comprehensive preservation area networks to sustain diverse forest biotopes and forest species. We would also need to set the harvest volume limit to a level that would support healthy ecosys

Figure 100/ Forest in Repovesi Photo: Saara Kantele

tems, the direction we already must take as a result of tightening EU regulations.

Thus, we are facing the situation where we are unable to increase the harvest amount to significantly substitute the use of other harmful materials, including concrete, cot ton and plastic-based materials, and also to meet the forest-based energy and biofuel expectations. We need material wisdomness and thoughful use of wood. Increasing ly valuable virgin materials should only go where they are most need ed or are of considerable advan tage. Currently 2/3 of harvested Finnish wood goes to cellulose or energy, and 1/3 to wood products (LUKE). Already by increasing the quality grade, targeting the use of wood to long lasting products including buildings and furniture, we could add more value and cascading potentiality to the trees harvested. We could contribute to creating jobs simultaneously, by supporting labor-intensive fields and local production.

By the means of cascading, a con siderable part of wood demands could be met by re-using wood and creating new value in each step. In a society obsessed with efficiency, we should be thrilled to imagine a considerable increase in wood material efficiency, by cas cading each harvested tree trunk multiple times. Apart from trees, we should look to other sources of fiber-based materials, including under-utilised side streams of food production. Being more efficient

with what we have will help reduce the pressure on forests.

Multiple challenges remain, time being one of them in relation to cli mate threats. How to speed up the slow change? One of the obvious means of change is to decrease consumption altogether. ‘


Ministry of Agriculture and For estry of Finland, Metsien Suojelu Suomessa.

Metsäkeskus, Jatkuvan kasvatuk sen hakkuut ovat hieman lisään tyneet: node/1021

WWF 2019: Tutkimus: Lähes neljä viidestä rajoittaisi avohakkuita lailla

Ministry of agriculture and forestry of Finland:, Forest resourc es in Finland

Global Forest Resources Assess ment 2020 Key findings, 2

Seppälä et al 2019: Effect of increased wood harvesting and utilization on required greenhouse gas displacement factors of woodbased products and fuels

LUKE: en/kotimaisen-raakapuun-kayt to-uuteen-ennatykseen-2018/

53 Figure 101/
Siberian jay at Oulanka National Park Photo: Saara Kantele
Figure 102/
Life at deadwood Nu uksio national park
Saara Kantele


In Aalto we decided to create a course around the waste wood theme to deepen the learning outcome.

The goal was to give the students the basic knowledge of the wood material cycle from forests to cascading, to learn of the available possibilities of the wood material re-use, and design and make an object using demolition and con struction waste – an available and unutilized opportunity of a material source.

The motivated student group con sisted of multiple backgrounds and majors, ranging from chemical, design, architectural, forestry and business backgrounds, and worked in multidisciplinary pairs. The students researched very differ ent aspects of wood waste usage, thus to our pleasure the collective course work forms a clear, multi faceted image of challenges and possibilities of demolition wood waste in different scales and stag es of cascading.

Jason Selvarajan / Neha Sharma / Janika Hart / Aarni Tujula / Amanda Barlebo / Marikki Nygård / Paul Mesarcik / Satyaki Roy / Otto Joutsiniemi / Minttu Marikki / Felix Valentin Dingeldein / Jenny Marie Jakobsen / Lukas Martin Schuck / Mark Hughes / Saara Kantele / Xan Browne / Hector Grundtdal Grønborg / STUDENTS STAFF
November 2021 54


A vast amount of the wood that we painstakingly harvest is crushed and burned once it has fulfilled its first purpose. This wood is often perfectly good for many more uses. Wood Shrine tries to reconnect us to this ma terial store, demonstrating that our attention and craft can elevate “waste” to the level of a shrine.

Wood Shrine is made entirely from “waste” wood found on dump sites. The shrine is handcrafted using traditional woodworking techniques. The veneering process enables large surface areas to be covered using few, small pieces of wood. Many of the veneers are made

from pieces under 30cm which cannot usually be safely machined.

The piece evokes a reverence for the material, calling on religious iconography to inspire a sense of awe. However, hidden in the symbolism are the molecules and material required for the pho tosynthesis process, one of the Earth’s most profound and valua ble natural processes.

Wood Shrine poses a new god: cyclical consumption and a deep gratitude for the Earth’s natural processes that support our material and spiritual existence.

55 Figure 103/ Previous page: Panel from the Aalto workshop Figure 104/ Panel made from small pieces of reclaimed pine Figure 105/ Close up of figure 104
56 Figure 109/ Figure 104 shown lit, in darkness Figure 110/ Close up of figure 109 Figure 106/ Group process photo Figure 107/ Group process photo, testing trans lucency Figure 108/ Close up of figure 109 AALTO


The waste wood terrazzo panel is inspired by terrazzo tiles to bring out the variety of demolition waste wood chips and to present an alternative way to utilise waste wood chips before burning them for energy. This adds another cascading step, which lengthens the life cycle of wood materials.

It contains waste wood chips that are a very heterogeneous material, in terms of shape and size as well as materials and treatment.

The waste wood “terrazzo” was produced by gluing wood chips parallelly together with carbox ymethyl cellulose (CMC), also a wood-based material.

The glued structure was sawed into a few centimetre thick slices

to create bundles of wood chips with a cut surface on both sides.

These slices were glued onto plywood to hold them in place and to combine them into a visually appealing product.

Bigger structures can be formed either by gluing these slices next to each other or possibly by making a bigger glued structure, although this would need more efficient gluing. The waste wood terrazzo panel could be used as a decorative art piece on a wall, and it can possibly have moisture buffering properties thanks to the wood.

57 Figure
111/ Panel made from wood chips and plywood
112/ Group process photo, sorting wood chips
58 Figure 115/ Close up of figure 111 Figure 113/ Group process photo, gluing chips together Figure 114/ Close up of figure 111 AALTO


One major challenge associated with wood waste is its heteroge neity. Wood waste usually con sists of a great number of differ ent kinds of pieces that all have different properties and looks. We created Wood Puzzle to embrace that challenge and transform the heterogeneity from disadvantage into advantage. The work aims to demonstrate that what we see as a wood waste is still very much usable and beautiful.

Wood Puzzle is a modular piece that consists of six different panels in three different sizes. Each module is joined from various wood pieces but standardized by using the same species. Pieces

within each module are joined by glue to secure their durability and lifetime. The modules otherwise are left unattached to maximize the diverse use of the piece.

In this work, we are also exploring how by cutting the same pieces differently we can create very dif ferent kinds of surfaces.

Wood Puzzle can be used for ex ample as a table top or as interior cladding. Each module can be used separately, or they can be com bined in multiple ways to create a pleasing combination. Like puzzle pieces.

59 Figure 116/ Panel made from mixed wood waste Figure 117/ Close up of figure 116






121/ Group process photos, testing finishing techniques
process photos, preparing the wood
up of figure 116 AALTO


This panel consists of 12 planks that gradually goes from ugly to nice from top to bottom.

It shows how much the woodwaste has to change to not be looked upon as wood-waste and questions if this view can be changed.

The process looked at the issue regarding planks with nails in them. They are an obstacle when it comes to using used-wood. How to overcome this?

We met this obstacle by removing the pieces with nails in them using a hand saw, taking the approach what equipment an everyday person would have

available. Two cut out pieces with nails is added to the panel. When the nails are removed it is counter intuitive to use new nails to fasten the panel. We looked on other ways of combing planks and went for using dowels made out of left over pieces.

This panel shows what today is regarded as wood-waste and what is not. Furthermore, the panel is what has to be reimagined. Why can’t the middle pieces be picked up as normal wood, and what new function ality can be found in the pieces furthest to the left? Let us start to look differently at the spectrum of wood-waste.

62 Figure 122/ Previous panel: Close up of figure 116 Figure 123/ Panel made from re claimed pine boards Figure 124/ Close up of figure 123
63 Figure 128/ Close up of figure 123 Figure 125-127/ Group process photo, sorting waste wood based on quality and usability AALTO


We have created four prototype acoustic wood panels of approx. 50x50cm. The material is demoli tion waste wood consisting mainly of birch and spruce ranging from logs to planks. The wood was cleaned with a metal brush and nails were removed. Rough sketch es of the panels were prepared but each building session was based on different types of wood, so some ‘freestyling’ was involved.

From top left to bottom right


Wooden logs from an old build ing were shaped with chainsaw and halved with a bandsaw and attached to a backboard with wooden screws.


The perforated panel was made from plank wood that was glued into a board and milled with a CNC router.


Plank wood was planed, cut at 45 degree angles and glued together. Layers of used cotton sheets were arranged within a wooden frame and attached with staples.


2by4’s, 2 inches by 4 inches, were planed and cut to angles from 20-45 degrees. Blocks were glued together in an arbitrary shape.

Commonly these types of panels are based on patterns with more predictable sound diffusion quali ties.

The panels were tested at the company Lumir, which specializes in fully bio-based spray on acous tic technology and audio testing.

64 Figure 129/ Panel consisting of 4 seperate
made from mixed waste wood Figure 130/ Close up of figure 129

Figure 131/ Group process photo, sawing logs to create grooves for sound diffusion

Figure 132/ Group process photo, cutting and laying out blocks to create a faceted surface, for sound diffusion

Figure 133/ Group process photo, audio testing facility. An object is placed on the raised plat form and sound is directed from the arch above. Microphones, mounted on the arch, record absorbtion and diffusion

Figure 134/ Close up of figure 129



Recovering energy from chipped (waste) wood is the most common use case for discarded wood. In order to challenge this systemat ic routine, our work set focus on exploring the potential of partial combustion, towards the last stage of the wood cascading system.

Our team converted (waste) wood chips into char through pyrolysis, thus converting large proportions of the contained carbon into sta ble form. After analyzing the prop erties of the char and linking them to various possible applications, our team decided to develop a bio-based black paint based upon an “Non-Acrylic Paint” recipe from the CHEMARTS cookbook.

Our approach show-cased possible benefits from rethinking the cur rent status quo in utilizing (waste) wood. Instead of merely burning (waste) wood for energy recovery, we can capture and store proportions of carbon embedded in it by utilizing it to color various surfaces.

The promising properties of char relating to moisture buffering, fire resistance as well as heat- and electric conductivity of char open up new realms of potential applica tions. It becomes imaginable that walls painted with CHARPAINT could be used as heating elements within building.

66 Figure 135/ Panel made from waste pine, waste chipboard and biochar Figure 136/ Close up of figure 135


Group process photo, testing paint samples Figure
Group process photo, Burning waste wood to
char for paint application
138/ Biochar applied, excess subsequently
away for a stain effect AALTO


Weaving bamboo was not an inev itable career path. About 30 years ago we moved from Milan to this rather remote rural area of north ern Tuscany, aiming to live more sustainably while our young family was growing up. We were able to grow and produce some of what we needed to consume but real self-sufficiency is hard to achieve, especially for a family of ex-town ies. We kept our main focus on making the most of our resources and learning to live in harmony with our surroundings.

There was a forest of bamboo growing on our land when we came here. It’s not a native plant to Italy; it was probably introduced a couple of centuries ago as an ornamental or for agricultural purposes. This species of bamboo (Phyllostachys) is invasive and tends to infest all surrounding land; left uncontrolled there would be no land left for our other crops of fruit and olive trees, cereals and vegetables. New shoots have to be cut each year, and old canes are also removed as they split and dry. The latter are chopped into short lengths and split – they make excellent kindling for our wood stove which we use for cooking and warmth.

The hills around here are steep and prone to mud slides and soil erosion – bamboo thrives on sloping, degraded soils and is an important tool for soil stabiliza tion. A fast regenerating resource with an extensive root system which survives annual harvesting. Being a grass not a tree, it grows to its final height in a season, and accumulates carbon quickly. Bam boo plantations effectively store carbon and there are some attrac tive possibilities for its use as a replacement for timber or steel in some types of construction. What bamboo lacks in terms of rigidity and other attributes in common with normal timber materials, it makes up for in terms of flexibility and elasticity. The tensile strength of bamboo compares favourably to that of mild steel. An awareness of its material behaviour means we need to establish novel fabrication processes to exploit its attributes in terms of structural performance.

While this is a small and site-spe cific case study, most of our objectives are in tune with those of the Nordic Waste Wood for Good project. We are essentially both looking at a ‘waste’ product – in the sense that the surplus bamboo poles would normally have to be

Figure 140/

Previous page: Close up of figure 135

Figure 141/ Bamboo forest in Italy

disposed of (burnt) without being ‘used’. The management of bam boo incurs a cost only in terms of energy and time; it is effectively a free material source.

The process of producing timber for construction and furniture making processes is actually rath er slow – it takes about 50 years between planting seedling trees to having a tree ready to cut down for timber planks. It’s also costly in terms of energy when we include attendant machinery and process ing. Taking this into account it would appear to be worthwhile to reconsider our production and use

of these commodities. By choos ing to work with a material that is fast-growing, (bamboo poles are ready for harvest in 3-4 years) we are intervening at source, and taking advantage of an abundantly available, naturally self-regenerat ing material, in its less processed state.

Lack of durability in external conditions means that bamboo is not generally considered a good building material for permanent structures; and for the time being most people don’t want to live in bamboo huts. Hopefully this seems destined to change – bamboo ar


chitects at Ibuku, Bali and Marina Tabassum in Bangla Desh have recently been awarded interna tional architecture prizes for their innovative, functional and beautiful work.

Bamboo does not lend itself to conventional carpentry and joinery techniques. The culms are hollow and will split if nails are used. These poles are 10 – 12 metres tall with an average diameter of 5 or 6 centimetres; sometimes as much as 12cm. at the base.

Weaving seemed an ideal way to fabricate bamboo structures with minimal means and was appropri ate as I lacked conventional build ing or carpentry skills. Not having any start-up capital meant being able to limit costs to near zero was necessary. The only investments have been of my time and the pur chase of a few hand tools - saw, knife and bamboo splitter.

Splitting bamboo by hand is a relatively easy technique to learn as the plant’s fibres are gener ally parallel and naturally tend to split straight. The resulting strips are well suited to weaving. The principle of material inter lacing generates local systems of friction-based reciprocity, sturdy and stable without the need for metal fixings. Resulting artefacts have aesthetic properties, diverse arenas of utility and emergent properties beyond their constit uent materials. Woven structures were a useful aid to self-reliance in our small scale agricultural and horticultural projects.

Apart from the material itself, the intrinsic properties of woven meshes are well worth studying. I have endeav oured to learn traditional crafts not only for their own sake but also in order to find ways to ingeniously use what is available in terms of mate rials and within my own skills.


My design work is grounded in physical model building; I rely on model making to gain intuition. I’m fascinated by the mathematical inevitability of natural form – the geometric properties of meshes have relevance to pure mathemat ics, geometric modelling, comput er graphics and building science.

Basket makers and computational designers share problems re garding the geometric design of patterns of surfaces and issues of surface subdivision and manipula tion. It’s apparent that woven lines of bamboo tend to follow approxi mately geodesic paths on a curved mesh. The long lengths of bamboo interwoven in a basket network all contribute equally to its overall strength. A basket weaving pattern may be interpreted as representing a topological map of its struc ture. Woven bamboo lattices have the potential to become a tacit form-finding tool with which to explore tessellations of the plane

Figure 142/ Bamboo close up
“The only investments have been of my time and the purchase of a few hand tools - saw, knife and bamboo splitter”

and curved surfaces as well as 3D space filling lattices. By using flexible strips of freshly cut green bamboo the ensuing woven mesh may be curved thus leaving be hind the flat constraints of planar geometry. Surface weaving /tiling patterns (triangles, quads and hexagons) can be manipulated or deformed into spherical or hyper bolic surface geometries by adding or subtracting from the number of elements at a crossing. This has led to a very thorough exploration of traditional weaving patterns, aiming to better understand and push beyond conventional limits. Versatility of weaving in differ ent applications is enhanced by its various material properties. A woven mesh can be reconfigured with adaptable geometry for given shape or material properties such as geometric composition and load distribution.

Conversations and collaborations with computational architects and mechanical engineers have been fruitful towards this end. Combin ing digital design technology and low-tech bamboo construction techniques to make physical pro totypes has proved a useful way to demonstrate and further the dialogue between the disciplines. Seeing designs in the real world is clearly a highly motivating out come. My proudest achievement has been winning international lightweight structures contest in Amsterdam. Despite being an outsider with no engineering or architectural qualifications and without software skills to employ

in the design, the four-meter tall reciprocal space-frame bamboo structure won out against tough competition from well-resourced teams from prestigious institutions (MIT, Cambridge University etc.)

More recent work has focused on deployable structures. The deploy ment of these slender structures uses the mechanical features of a beam grid to generate a three-dimensional shape. They are designed to avoid issues of com plex hand building in situ. They can be constructed flat and then expanded into larger, curved 3D structures that are relatively stable and transportable in 2D fabrication configuration and a desired 3D deployed shape can be erected at the destination, without requiring a skilled workforce.

Bamboo grids of flexible lengths of split bamboo are connected by inserting nuts and bolts into drilled holes along the length. They then expand into a curved shape when stretched. The shape which emerg es depends on the precise spacing between the crossings of the bamboo strips. As it is difficult to tune this manually, working with colleagues who have para metric design competences means we have been able to achieve more

precision. Throughout the pro cess there has been a dynamic interaction; the computational design tools initially needed to be developed to catch up with the tra ditional weaving techniques. The software was soon pushing beyond existing basketry competences and manual skills needed to be upgraded in order to achieve new target shapes.

I’m optimistic that we will be able to build on the success of collab orations with KADK (Copenhagen)

Centre for Information Technol ogy and Architecture – where 3 papers have so far been published.

Currently kagome weaving is being employed in developing a fully integrated structural substrate for growing fungal mycelium with the intent of growing architecture.

Work with mechanical engineers at EPFL (Lausanne) Flexible Struc tures Laboratory has led to a paper being published in Physics Review Letters and a subsequent research project with the School for Computer and Communica tion Science was presented at SIGGRAPH 2021. I feel that this inter-disciplinary aspect leading to conversations about funda mental natural structures materi als science, crystallography and

Figure 143/ Bamboo structures for agriculture
“I’m driven by a strong belief in craft and my concerns about the unknown consequences of losing the human capacity to make things”
72 Figure 144/ Bamboo shoot Figure 145/ Bamboo collected for processing Figure 146/ Bamboo being cut with a specialised tool Figure 147/ Bamboo with a bolted connection Figure 148/ Split bamboo Figure 149/ Bamboo structures for agriculture Figure 150/ Woven bamboo pattern Figure 151/ Process photo from one of Alison Martin’s workshops Figure 152/ Woven bamboo sculptures

structural inorganic chemistry has been one of the most surpris ing and worthwhile outcomes so far. I hope that the intersection with mathematics and materi als science may lead to practical applications in engineering fields. New three dimensional - multiaxial, volumetric - weaving technologies might lead to lighter more flexible buildings and it may be possible to create architectural scale textile modules which would connect into large scale pop-up structures and achieve a large volume with mini mal material use.


I’m convinced that structures can best be appreciated and learned by building models and contem plating them. The workshops I run respond to the challenge as to how structures should be taught. Work ing with software alone is unlikely to lead to an unfettered perception of spatial relationships. It’s hard to relate to geometry beyond right angles and cuboids without physi cal models to examine. A hands-on approach helps to demystify things and unleash creativity, imagination and a sense of empowerment. This is an approach that prioritizes manual skills and local materials

over large scale, more technical solutions. If only limited materials (local, free, waste/ recycling) are available there will be a need to re invent the potential product range. It may be possible to conceive an “inverse design process” – starting from the properties the material offers and to aiming to explore the ‘wilder’ vocabulary of shapes which can result from an observed set of material properties. Collabo rations so far have featured a com mon interest in self built projects and in promoting diverse ways of learning and knowing; an investi gation of new shapes and thinking about how to embed imperma nence as a positive feature. We aim to inspire students to become less dependent on perpendicu lar/ orthogonal directions, to do without bespoke joints and fixings, to do without expensive machinery and to work around conventional carpentry and joinery techniques.

I’m driven by a strong belief in craft and my concerns about the unknown consequences of losing the human capacity to make things; as well as the loss of many ancient well-crafted objects. Living where I do, I am inevitably influ enced and inspired by the land scape and historic architecture; the traditional way of life in the recent past strikes me as having been human centric and well craft ed. We may not yet be fully aware of the implications on society when we no longer know how to do basic things with our hands like sew or knit. Making has an impact on the mind and its evolution. Making is a

way of thinking and I’m interested in prolonging the opportunity of thinking with the hands. It’s inter esting that if we resort to hand made technologies we can build whatever we imagine, without any of the restrictions that machines impose, based on what they were designed to do.

Our design and construction pro cess should be contemporary and at the same time rooted to place, informed by climate and geogra phy.

Figure 153/ Process photo from one of Alison Martin’s workshops


We have come to the end of an exciting and very rich journey. With the project, it has been a path of discovery, surprise and joy in exploring exciting new ways of uti lizing waste wood. Initially planned as an 8 month project, due to the covid pandemic and associated restrictions the project has lived for nearly two years. In this time many things have changes and developed. The extended period, although frustrating at times, has enabled us to reflect, analyse, observe and develop our ideas further.

More than 180 students from the four partner Universities: The Roy al Danish Academy, The Norwegian Technical University, Aalto and KTH Royal Institute of Technol ogy together with staff from the institutions have come up with the results presented in this book.

The results are more than we could hope for – showing the huge potential for architectural applications of waste wood. At present some of the wood waste is used either for lower purpose applications and most of it burned or disposed as landfill. Whereas burning and waste wood provides heat and energy, it is clearly a lost

opportunity in the climate crisis battle. By keeping the solid (waste) wood in use as a solid material, without degrading it, as long as possible we give a good material an extended life and contribute to the CO2 storage – so desperately needed currently.

The panels presented in this book with their tactility and aesthetic touch our senses. We would like to touch them; they invite us to interpret them as geometry com positions and consider them for architectural applications. Even though they are not yet archi tecture, we can see the aesthetic potential as with their proportions and expression they have created value – they are no longer waste but a promise that through design and the agency of the (waste) material we can create values that have not been there before.

Judged not only on the aesthetic values, but also beyond that - the panels give hope of new ways of conceiving architecture: an archi tecture that is close to our senses, an architecture that is holistic and does not waste, an architecture in Nordic wood that can pave the way to utilizing every single bit of the tree, also all the wood materi al that is currently considered as

Figure 154-155/ Photos from the Royal Danish Academy workshop

waste. By thinking and working in more holistic ways, the forests also keep their role in preserving and enriching the planet’s biodiversity.

Architecture and building design have a huge role to play as they are the root of the environmental challenges we are facing. They are important as with moving towards more holistic approaches they can also provide solutions to the climate crises.

The Nordic Waste Wood for Good project has given us an opportuni ty to rethink the roles of architecture and building design and to present the richness of ex pression that can be created with what we consider as waste cur rently. We have worked with wood as we in the Nordic region have the capacity through our building culture, craftsmanship, tacit and current knowledge ledge, digital technologies and skills to lead the way in timber design, architecture and innovation.

The collaboration through the project, especially the prolonged timeline has enabled us to get to know each other within the partner group. We have combined our re search and practice backgrounds and by embedding the workshops in the teaching curriculum at the four Nordic partner institutions we have planted a seed of inquiry within the student participants. This has enabled us to question our similarities and clear cultur al differences also. What does it mean to be Nordic, the cultural

values embedded and their impact on architecture applied to (waste) wood have been important consid erations of the project.

Through the workshops, the ex hibitions, public events and many on-line discussions we had the opportunity of creating a real-time public forum for waste wood value discourse, both between partic ipants, related professions and general public. The oppurtunity of collecting, analysing and under standing the cultural significance and potential value of waste wood in architecture has been valua ble to us. It has perhaps created more questions than has provided definite answers. But that was something we expected to some degree. There is a huge inherent complexity that cannot be resolved through one project, such as this, instead it will hopefully be a start ing point for many projects by our team and many others to continue and develop further.

The team collaboration has strengthened over the time. We have talked together and planned numerous ways of how to contin ue the collaboration perusing the battle for better, smarter, more holistic utilization of wood through the celebration of its diverse qualities that can create meaning ful architecture and extended life cycle that supports environmental agendas.

We hope that the panels and texts presented in this book will be con sidered as our questioning and re

Figure 156-157/ Student photos from the Aalto Univer sity course. Lahti, Finland.

flections to what waste wood may become. They are not yet solutions but may become if we work further with them and can embrace the imperfect wood qualities as mate rial agency and not as defects.

If our book evokes in the read er thoughts about waste wood, material agency, architecture and considerations about how archi tecture can provide solutions in the CO2 reductions, we will feel that our aims for this project have been achieved. It is a small step in the long journey in combating the climate crisis.

If we think beyond this project, the holistic approach we worked with is not only applicable to wood, albeit wood is best in providing the potential for C02 storage. The holistic working as a method has potential in providing mate rial resources saving if applied to other materials also. There are many questions to be asked and answers to be searched, not least of how architecture would look like and how we would perceive values, but it is a journey worth perusing, a journey that could provide small steps in our battle for our planet, but also searching to what makes meaningful architecture, how it relates to the material values and traits and how do we – humans see our role in the nature/culture cycles we are part of.

There are many layers to consider, complexities to map, reflect and directions to re-think. There are no certain ways forward and this

uncertainty and huge world of op portunities that we have a head of us can be a path towards positive change where architecture and (waste) wood can hopefully pave the way for holistic approaches for architecture.




Royal Danish Academy, Institute of Architecture and technology

Olga Popovic Larsen is a Professor in Materials and Structures at the Royal Danish Academy. Trained both as an architect and engineer, she has experi ence from practice, research and teaching with special focus on timber Reciprocal Frames in architecture.

PASI AALTO Centre Director


Pasi Aalto is an Assistant Professor at NTNU, Centre Director of NTNU Wood. Working across a number of scales, his field of study focuses on digital workflows and cross disciplinary studies.

Alison Grace Martin is a weaver and artist. She has worked extensively with weaving in an architectural context, especially with bamboo.

Roberto Crocetti is a Professor at KTH in Stockholm and a structural engineer. He has exten sive experience from industry as a consulting timber engineer working with structural timber applications and detailing as well as timber research projects.

BERIT NILSEN Ass. prof and social scientist

XAN BROWNE Architect and Phd candidate

Royal Danish Academy, Institute of Architecture and technology

Xan Browne is an architect and industrial PhD candi date. He is currently working on possible structural applications for waste timber at an architectural scale.

SAARA KANTELE Architect and designer

Berit Therese Nilsen is a geographer and Assistant Professor at NTNU. Her work centres around identity, experience, sustainability, and the importance of physical surroundings/place/context.

Mark Hughes is a Professor at Aalto University. He has great understanding of wood on a material scale and knowledge about building and constructing with wood.

Saara Kantele is an architect and designer based in Helsinki. Her work is focused around the forest and combining knowledge from different fields to create thoughtful and meaningful projects.

HECTOR G. GRØNBORG Industrial and graphic designer

Royal Danish Academy, Institute of Architecture and technology

Hector Grundtdal Grønborg is an industrial and graphic designer. He has experience in product de sign as well as interior architecture.

ALISON GRACE MARTIN Weaver ROBERTO CROCETTI Professor KTH Stockholm Aalto University NTNU MARK HUGHES Professor Aalto University