For the third time in a row, an apartment building by Kodumaja has received the Prefab House of the Year Award

The winners of the ‘Prefab House of the Year 2023’ competition were announced on 5th of April. For the third time in a row, first prize was awarded to an apartment building built by Kodumaja in Norway.

The prizes for prefab wooden houses produced by Estonian companies were awarded for the thirteenth time this year. A total of 15 manufacturers participated in the competition, with a total of 25 prefab wooden buildings or special solutions on wooden structures, all of them different in terms of both engineering and architecture. The winning entry caught the eye of the jury precisely because of its complex technical solutions, but also because of its distinctive appearance.

Construction in the city centre always sets more complex requirements for both the construction process and technical conditions. ‘Despite the complexity of the task, the capacious modular building is very factory-ready. The room elements include both a balcony and a part of the inner corridor, which is unusual in the context of module technology and is undoubtedly a challenge for the manufacturer,’ commented Jarek Kurnitski, Chairman of the Jury. In addition, the thoughtfulness of the room solutions, down to the details, stood out during the evaluation. The architects who participated in the jury also highlighted the enrichment of the urban environment and bringing new quality to it through beautiful architecture, characterised by careful construction engineering.

Aasta Tehasemaja 2023 konkursi võitja ja parim kortermaja - Kodumaja kortermaja Norras. Foto. HTS media/Tom Antonsen
Overall winner and best apartment building of the Prefab House of the Year 2023 contest. Apartment building in Norway by Kodumaja. Photo: HTS media/Tom Antonsen

The modular building produced and built by Kodumaja is a partly three-storey, partly six-storey building with two underground floors for parking and business premises. Located in the centre of Bodø, Norway, the 3,400 m2 apartment building has 64 light-filled Scandinavian-style apartments, some of which have a beautiful view of the Norwegian fjords. All apartments have a separate balcony or terrace. What also makes the building interesting is the old, restored Nazi German bunker located below it, which is also open to visitors. The courtyard solution is diverse as well, having a barbecue area, a separate Boccia court, a children’s play area, and bicycle parking spaces.

The winners of the prefab house competition were announced on 5 April as part of the opening of the EstBuild 2023 construction fair.

Indrek Rehme, board member of Kodumaja, stated that winning the Prefab House of the Year Award for the third year in a row is a recognition that will definitely give the team the necessary confidence to continue pushing boundaries. ‘Kodumaja and the Estonian wooden house sector have always tried to expand the boundaries of what is possible with the wood and prefab construction method.’ According to Rehme, a good team and belief in what we do are the factors that drive us forward. Rehme added that the Prefab House of the Year competition is not only a triumph for the overall winner – all the other works of our lovely colleagues deserve recognition, if only for the fact that there were 25 participants in total, and projects spanning from kindergartens to apartment buildings, from Estonia to the United States of America. ‘This demonstrates the diversity of our entire sector which, thanks to the competition, can now reach the wider public and helps introduce wood as a building material and the prefab construction method as an interesting career choice. A huge thank you to the Kodumaja team for implementing the project, thanks to the Estonian Woodhouse Association for the smooth organisation of the competition, and to my good colleagues and competitors for the tight competition,’ praised Indrek Rehme.

Aasta Tehasemaja 2023 konkursi autasustamine. Foto: Vladimir Levin
Award ceremony of the Prefab House of the Year 2023. Photo: Vladimir Levin

Erki Nool, Olympic champion and former Riigikogu member (Parliament of Estonia), presented the prizes to the winners of the competition and said that although he himself has not built any prefab buildings, he is very aware of the strengths of the wooden house sector, the possibilities of wood construction, and the charms of living in a wooden house. ‘To achieve success, it is very important to keep focus and put in extraordinary effort for extraordinary achievements. Reshaping the construction industry is certainly not easy – definitely a marathon, not a sprint! As a true wood enthusiast, I am happy to congratulate all the best of the prefab competition as well as the leaders of the sector,’ said Erki Nool at the award ceremony.

Main categories of the Prefab House of the Year competition:

  • Overall Winner –an apartment building by Kodumaja in Norway
  • Best Apartment Building – an apartment building by Kodumaja in Norway
  • Best Public Building – a kindergarten by Welement AS in Tartu
  • Best Private House – a private house by EstHus OÜ in Pirita
  • Best Small Construction – a small house by Harmet OÜ in the USA
  • Best Special Solution – façade elements by EstNor OÜ for a student house in Norway

In addition, several special prizes were awarded by both the jury and the sponsors:

  • Special prize of the competition ‘Inspirational community building’ – EstHus OÜ in Kuusalu municipality
  • Special prize of the competition ‘Best handcrafted log house’ – a smoke sauna by Vipson projekt OÜ in Võru County
  • ISOVER special prize for the most energy-efficient building – an apartment building by Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ in Rakvere
  • Raitwood special prize ‘Best timber use’– a harbour building by EstHus OÜ in Kuusalu municipality
  • AkzoNobel special prize and Tyvec special prize – a kindergarten by Welement AS in Tartu
  • Puumarket special prize and Riwega special prize – a private house development by Nordic Houses KT OÜ in Finland
  • Tervemaja OÜ James Hardie façade solution special prize – façade elements by Welement AS for an apartment building in Tartu
  • Senco special prize – a private house by Finnlog OÜ in Jõelähtme
  • VELUX special prize ‘Best Lighting Solution’ and ESSVE special prize – a private house by EstHus OÜ in Pirita
  • BMI Monier special prize ‘Best tile roof on a prefab building’ – terraced houses by Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ in Sweden
  • SIGA special prize and Karl Bilder special prize – an apartment building by Matek AS in Germany
  • Ingeland special prize and Tervemaja OÜ special prize – a private house by EstHus OÜ in Pirita
  • Delfi readers special prize– a private house by EstHus OÜ in Pirita
Award ceremony of the Prefab House of the Year 2023. Photo: Vladimir Levin

The best buildings of the Prefab House of the Year competition were selected by a jury comprised of Dr. Targo Kalamees (TalTech Professor of Building Physics Dr), Dr. Jarek Kurnitski (Director of TalTech Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture), architects Markus Kaasik and Veronika Valk-Siska, journalist Irmeli Karja, and Elar Vilt (Development Advisor of Estonian Woodhouse Association).

The main goal of the prefab wooden house building competition is to recognise the best buildings produced by Estonian companies and to promote the diversity and possibilities of wooden construction as a whole. Prefab wooden houses (buildings and special solutions with a wooden structure) completed and accepted by the customer in the period 2020–2023 were eligible to participate in the prefab house competition.

Prefab House of the Year 2023 contest is supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Enterprise Estonia cluster development measure.