Woodhouse Estonia: Journey with valued and knowledgeable partners

Woodhouse Estonia presented sector recognitions on February 27 at the Forum Wood Building Baltic 2024 conference by recognizing the CEO of Harmet, the professor of building structures at TalTech, and leader in Ukrainian re-construction.

Woodhouse Estonia (Estonian Woodhouse Association) has a tradition of highlighting individuals or organizations that have contributed to the development of timber construction or prefab houses sector. Especially in these challenging and rapidly changing times, we value those who have helped the sector evolve, stand out in various activities, or address new challenges. Therefore, on February 27 at the international timber construction conference, Forum Wood Building Baltic, the laureates of the 2023 sector awards were announced.

The Person of the Year award was titled to Alo Tamm, a member of the board and CEO of Harmet OÜ. Through his leadership at Harmet, Alo Tamm successfully implemented one of the sector’s most iconic projects – a modular kindergarten in Ukraine. This project has helped showcase the advantages of industrialized construction (prefabricated houses), which, in turn, has brought greater attention to the entire sector. While the nomination for the Person of the Year award was based on Harmet’s production and construction of the Ovruch modular kindergarten, Woodhouse Estonia also values Alo Tamm’s role in representing the sector at various levels and international events.

Alo Tamm - Harmet OÜ - Woodhose Estonia autiitlid 2023 - Aasta tegija. Foto: Erik
Person of the Year 2023 – Alo Tamm (Harmet OÜ). Photo: Erik Peinar

The title Friend of Wooden Houses was exceptional this year, awarded to two partners who have significantly contributed to the sector’s development. One of the recipients is Alar Just, a professor of building structures at TalTech, whose extensive and long-standing contributions have significantly enhanced the construction sector’s competence in various fire safety issues. Fire safety has long been at the core of myths that the sector continues to address. His achievements have successfully translated into practice, for example, through changes in the new generation of Eurocodes, and his efforts help raise awareness about timber constructions. In the context of sectoral succession, the role of his supervised students, who have succeeded in various sectoral competitions and beyond, is also important.

Woodhouse Estonia autiitlid 2023 - Pitmaja sõber - Alar Just. Foto: Erik Peinar
Friend of Wooden Houses 2023 – Alar Just (TalTech). Photo: Erik Peinar

“This recognition undoubtedly belongs to our entire research group and the diligent and enthusiastic master’s and doctoral students. Our research activities are aimed at increasing trust in wood as a structural material throughout Europe. Therefore, it was particularly gratifying that the main cooperation partners from Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden were also there when receiving this award,” said Alar Just, appreciating the honor of being named a Friend of Wooden Houses, while also acknowledging his father’s role on this journey.

Exceptionally, Woodhouse Estonia also awarded the title of Friend of Wooden Houses to an organization that has brought significant attention to the entire Estonian timber construction sector. The award also recognizes courage and decisiveness in the public sector. The decision of the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV) to build a modular kindergarten in Ukraine has allowed showcasing Estonia’s best practices in building prefabricated wooden houses internationally. Led by ESTDEV, this initiative marks the first official reconstruction project in Ukraine since the start of full-scale war, providing 160 Ukrainian children with an education in a European-standard, and more importantly, a safer environment.

Woodhouse Estonia autiitlid 2023 - Puitmaja sõber- ESTDEV. Foto: Erik Peinar
Friend of Wooden Houses 2023 – ESTDEV. Photo: Erik Peinar

“Estonian house factories, engineers, and specialists have built the tallest and most complex wooden buildings in the world. In comparison, a kindergarten might seem like a simple challenge, but in reality, the Ovruch kindergarten project is one of the most significant projects. We don’t always have to build technically groundbreaking buildings to prove the capabilities of constructing prefabricated wooden houses. What is really important? Providing a quality and safe living or working environment – whether it’s a home, a school, or a kindergarten. Especially in today’s circumstances, building in a country where active war is ongoing, this project has been an extremely challenging task for all involved partners. The Estonian Woodhouse Association can be proud that such a strong precedent was created with this project through the collaboration of both public and private sectors,” comments Annika Kadaja, CEO of the Estonian Woodhouse Association, on the importance of laureates of sector awards.

Puitmajaliidu tegevjuht Annika Kadaja. Foto: Erik Peinar
CEO of Woodhouse Estonia – Annika Kadaja. Photo: Erik Peinar

The third sector recognition focuses on timber architecture. The title of Influencer of Estonian Wooden Architecture was nominated for the Estonian Academy of Arts Timber Architecture Research Center PAKK. The leaders of the Competence Center – Sille Pihlak, Siim Tuksam, Renee Puusepp, and Anna Tommingas – have diversified and enriched the architecture field, creating important platforms and opportunities for promoting wood in construction and highlighting its potential in various educational programs and projects (such as Mustermaja and sLender). Their developed concept of the Mustermaja achieved the highest output in the construction of the Elektrilevi training center, which used the Mustermaja 369 design system.

Woodhouse Estonia autiitlid 2023 - Eesti puitarhitektuuri mõjutaja - Kompetentsikeskus PAKK. Foto: Erik Peinar
Influencer of the Estonian Wooden Architecture – Timber Architecture Research Center PAKK. Photo: Erik Peinar

The Person of the Year award highlights individuals who have notably represented, launched, or implemented complex projects in the timber construction sector or significantly contributed to the development of the entire sector. The Friend of Wooden Houses title recognizes individuals or organizations outside the sector whose activities have positively influenced the timber construction sector. The Influencer of Estonian Timber Architecture title evaluates individuals or organizations whose activities have significantly influenced the development of Estonian timber architecture. Candidates for the awards are nominated by the membership of Woodhouse Estonia. Laureates are determined by internal voting and joint discussions.

The awards were announced on February 27 during the Forum Wood Building Baltic 2024 international timber construction conference.

Previous ‘Persons of the Year’ laureates:

2022.a Andres Veel (Hiiumaa Ametikool)

2021.a Martin Talts (KMT Prefab OÜ)

2020.a Tarmo Tamm (Peetri Puit OÜ)

2019.a Siim Leisalu (Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ)

2018.a. Argo Saul (Nordic Houses KT OÜ)

2017.a. Toomas Kalev (Harmet OÜ)

2016.a. Raiko Gustavson (Pärnu Log Homes OÜ)

2015.a. Andrus Prangli (Hobbiton Home OÜ)

2014.a. Mihkel Urmet (TEMPT OÜ)

2013.a. Sven Mats (Matek AS)

2012.a. Ragner Lõbu (Hobbiton Home OÜ)

2011.a. Argo Saul (Nordic Houses KT OÜ)

Previous ‘Friend of Wooden Houses’ title winners:

  • 2022 – Ivo Jaanisoo, Deputy Secretary General for Living Environment and Circular Economy (Ministry of Climate) is a prime example of a top public servant whose consistent and substantive work has contributed not only to the development of the wooden house sector, but also to the transformation of the traditional construction sector.
  • 2021 – Lauri Kivil, former CEO of Woodhouse Estonia (Estonian Woodhouse Association), for his dedication to the development and visibility of the sector and for growing the network.
  • 2020 – Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and KredEx – for the development and launch of the pilot project of the support measure for the factory reconstruction of apartment buildings
  • 2019 – President Kersti Kaljulaid – for dealing with environmental and climate issues
  • 2018 – Targo Kalamees (TalTech) – preparation of qualified workforce for the wooden house sector, development of research and development cooperation, and organisation of the international wood engineering conference Forum Wood Building Baltic 2019
  • 2017 – Enterprise Estonia – supporting export activities of the sector
  • 2016 – emeritus professor Karl Õiger (TalTech) – long-term contribution to the promotion of engineering education in the field of construction
  • 2015 – Ülenurme rural municipality – the local municipality that builds the most wooden buildings
  • 2014 – Rescue Board – dealing with the topic of fire safety of wooden houses
  • 2013 – Estonian Open Air Museum – preserving the traditions of wooden construction
  • 2012 – the Kingdom of Norway – the main target market of the Estonian wooden house sector for ten years now
  • 2011 – Reet Truuts – Senior Adviser on foreign trade at Enterprise Estonia
  • 2010 – Märt Riistop – leader of the information programme Puuinfo

Previous ‘Influencer of Estonian Wooden Architecture’ title winners:

  • 2022 – ETV’s Puit arhitektuuris (Wood in Architecture) series producer Ene-Maris Tali
  • 2021 – TEMPT arhitektid – for their contribution to the advancement of Estonian wooden architecture and its popularisation;
  • 2020 – Erik Konze in cooperation with the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association – for organising the wooden architecture conference ‘Wood – the key to the living environment of the future’.

Woodhouse Estonia is a brand that unites the umbrella organisations of the sector – the Estonian Woodhouse Association and the Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster – which was created to share the success stories of Estonian wooden houses. We aim to inspire more people to discover the benefits of wood as a construction material and provide connections to manufacturers and other partners. The main objective of Woodhouse Estonia is to improve the international competitiveness and export capacity of its members through various supporting joint activities. Woodhouse Estonia currently has 70 companies or organisations as members.