Tallinn University of Technology

As part of the Timber Construction of the Year 2021 contest, a special prize was awarded to Ehituse Mäemaja which is TalTech’s most energy efficient study and research building as well as one with the best indoor climate.

TalTechi Ehituse Mäemaja
Ehituse Mäemaja pälvis aasta puitmaja konkursil Arcwoodi liimpuidu kasutamise eripreemia.

This year marks the 19th time the best timber construction in Estonia is selected and the grand prize was awarded to Tamme Talu farm complex. According to Chairman of the Jury Kaur Talpsepa, the winning title was awarded to the farm complex on Muhu Island because of its complete environment and outstanding treatment of wood. As the level of competition gets higher every year and due to the fact that entries include both schools, sports facilities and private houses, it gets more difficult for the jury to assess all submitted entries on a similar basis.

Special prize for bold use of materials

TalTech’s Ehituse Mäemaja (QP Arhitektid) won Arcwood special prize for best use of glulam thanks to bold use of materials where no compromises were made in terms of both construction and finishing. Other nominees for the special prize for best use of glulam included Saaremaa Gymnasium, Hiiumaa Sports Centre (Molumba), and Wiru Sports Centre.

A significant step towards climate neutrality

Ehituse Mäemaja, the construction of which may be considered a significant step towards climate neutrality, was opened on 25 August. The Rector of Tallinn University of Technology Tiit Land emphasised at the opening ceremony: ‘It is the university’s first fully nearly zero-energy study and research building where, on the one hand, students can receive a top-class engineering education and, on the other, researchers can conduct scientific research to develop energy efficiency solutions which are becoming increasingly important at a global level.’ Professor Jarek Kurnitski said that, in the construction of the new building, researchers were also able to apply their current knowledge and experience in the field of indoor climate, energy efficiency, and timber construction. Not to mention all the new solutions which will be of significant value in the construction of nearly zero-energy buildings in the future. ‘The building uses the whole roof surface to produce solar energy, and, in order to reduce the carbon footprint, many load-bearing and non-load-bearing timber constructions have been used. State-of-the-art ventilation systems, which, in the current pandemic situation, are more important than ever, also contribute greatly to the exemplary energy efficiency and indoor climate of the building,’ Kurnitski explained in August.

Exceptional learning opportunities

The Ehituse Mäemaja building is home to a unique and massive Construction Test Hall, the Laboratory of Structural Engineering, the Laboratory of Roads and Traffic, the Laboratory of Building Physics and Indoor Climate, the Laboratory of Water Engineering, the Stone Cutting Workshop, the Geotechnology Student Laboratory, and regular classrooms.

The story of how Ehituse Mäemaja (lit. ‘construction hill house’) got its name is also noteworthy. Previously the building was called Construction Test Hall (Ehituse Katsehall) after the big hall with heavy-duty concrete floors for testing large-scale constructions. The heavy-duty concrete floors were the only part of the old building that was retained. The test hall got a completely new shell during reconstruction and since it was also expanded to house more laboratories, a survey was organised to find a new name for the building. When the name Mäemaja was proposed, a heated discussion followed as to whether it is located on top of the hill or sits at the bottom of it as the slope runs through the plot. Since the hill is there, the new building was given a name that appropriately reflects the ambition of reaching the top.

The Timber Construction of the Year contest is organised by the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association. There were 31 entries submitted to the contest this year.