Buildings are static. They serve the purpose they have been designed for. But when cities grow and the needs of the community change, this becomes a problem. Modular construction with engineered wood products like Kerto LVL are the solution, because they enable adaptable, sustainable and cost competitive designs. It is time to provide solutions to the changing needs of our cities. Time to create an urban adaptation.

The Urban Adaptation Competition challenges architects and students from around the world to find a way to create multi-purpose buildings that can adapt to the changing needs of urban communities. During the life cycle of a building, requirements can change dramatically due to changes in demographics, culture or politics. Over time, a community might need less office space and more kindergartens instead, or vice versa.

In addition to adaptability, urban construction needs to become more efficient and environmentally friendly. Construction produces over 30% of the global CO2 emissions, but wood does the opposite – it stores carbon. Engineered wood is cost-competitive because it enables fast construction with prefabricated elements and modules. These elements are flexible and allow designs which are adaptable.

“A wooden structure is easy to adapt to various situations. Wood is adaptable: it is easy to build with, but also dismantle and rebuild according to changing needs,” says Rahel Belatchew, a Swedish architect and a competition jury member.

The Competition

The competition is organised by Metsä Group, Aalto University and the Ministry of the Environment of Finland. The entrants are asked to select a centrally-located empty plot in a city area and develop an innovative modular wood design for a public building or a building system that easily adapts to the changing needs of the community. In addition to visual and functional criteria, the designs need to show (1.) adaptability, (2.) modularity and (3.) sustainability.

The deadline for competition entries is on 31 December 2020 at 24:00 CET. No preregistration is needed. The first prize for the competition is €15,000 and the second prize is €5,000.

The Jury

The jury members are as follows:

Andrew Scott
Andrew Scott is a Professor of Architecture and Urbanism in the Department of Architecture at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was head of Architecture from 2018-2020. He is a UK registered architect with extensive professional and academic experience in the UK and the US. His professional, design and research interests revolve around explorations of ecological issues and the criticality of climate change to various scales of architecture, cities and urban systems. Scott’s recent projects, studio teaching and publications have focused on low-carbon communities, health and design at multiple scales, and new models for affordable urban housing (including the deployment of mass timber technologies). His most recent book is ‘Renewtown’: Adaptive Urbanism and the Low Carbon Community (Routledge).

Rahel Belatchew
Rahel Belatchew, architect MSA/SAR, DESA is the founder of Belatchew Arkitekter. Trained at the Ecole Speciale in Paris, and active as an architect in France, Japan and Luxembourg, Belatchew is based in Stockholm where the office was established in 2006. Rahel Belatchew has been appointed Architect of the Year and Belatchew Arkitekter and Belatchew Labs have received several awards, including the Architecture Masterprize, World Architecture News Awards, Architectural Review MIPIM Future Project Award, Smart Living Challenge and the Swedish national design award Design S.

The works of Belatchew have been displayed at several museums and Rahel has represented Sweden at architectural events around the world, including London, Reykjavik and Mumbai. Rahel has also participated in juries of many prestigious awards in Sweden and internationally. In 2019, the book “Attitude as Style” about Rahel Belatchew and the work of Belatchew Arkitekter was published.

Minna Riska
Minna Riska, Architect, M.Sc SAFA, is a founding partner at MDH Arkitekter. She has studied in Finland, Denmark and Norway, where she has been working since graduation from the University of Oulu in 2003. MDH architects work with all scales and types of projects in the built environment from urban planning and public transport projects, to public buildings and even private villas.

Starting with the transformation of the Moholt student village in 2013, the office has gained a lot of experience with projects built in CLT in a very short time. The “Moholt project” has received many national and international architecture and urban planning awards and MDH is frequently invited to share their experiences in building with CLT through lectures both nationally and internationally. Minna has been teaching at the Oslo school of architecture and design and is often invited as an external sensor both at the Oslo school of architecture and NTNU in Trondheim.

The winners of the competition will be announced in February 2021. “Engineered wood enables construction which is both efficient and environmentally friendly. I am looking forward to new innovative designs which take into account the entire life cycle,” says Ilkka Hämälä, President and CEO of Metsä Group. We need to find a way to create multi-purpose buildings which can adapt to the changing needs of the community. We need urban adaptation.

For more information about the competition visit

  • Title

    Call for Entries: Designing for Adaptability With Modular Wood Construction
  • Type

    Competition Announcement (Ideas)
  • Website

  • Organizers

    Metsä Group, Aalto University, The Ministry of the Environment, Finland
  • Submission Deadline

    December 31, 2020 08:29 AM
  • Price


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