Imagine an authentic timber house, built with sturdy logs and with visible timber on the inside, just like in the log cabins of old. But there’s something more: a spectacular design carrying the prestigious Design from Finland label. Glass House 80 is a show house created by Kontio, the world’s leading log house manufacturer, and is on show at the Nybygget home exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden.
Finnish log house manufacturer Kontio has built its success on its concept of manufacturing solid and sturdy wood houses, just like in the old days but with a modern twist. The houses are made from laminated timber logs–that is, logs that consist of two or more glued wood segments with the heartwood facing outwards. This arrangement ensures that the logs do not crack or twist due to changes in the weather, which can occur with traditional timber. As a result, Kontio houses remain unchanged and stable decade after decade.
“Timber is a fantastic building material. It retains heat, providing warmth in the colder weather and cooling the air in warmer weather by absorbing excess temperature from the air. Timber also “breathes”, keeping the indoor humidity at an ideal level”, explains Johannes Brännkärr, sales manager at Kontio Hus in Sweden. “All in all, timber is a healthy choice–and ensuring a healthy indoor environment is very important to us at Kontio. The laminated timber that we build with consists entirely of solid wood and there are no layers where condensation can accumulate”.
Kontio is a world leader in timber houses, and its products are available in many countries. Every year, over 2,000 timber houses are produced at Kontio’s factory in Pudasjärvi, northern Finland. The company’s strength lies in its tried and tested production process: quality assurance runs throughout the process, which uses cutting-edge technology and engineering techniques to refine the wood into stable laminated timber.
But Kontio is also at the forefront in terms of design and architecture. Recently, the company received the prestigious Design from Finland label for its elegant Glass House range, which can be seen at the Nybygget home exhibition in Arlanda. Kontio has chosen to build a Glass House 80 there, a spectacular house that stands out with its large glass panels. The Glass House range is inspired by the Glass House in New Caanan in Connecticut in the United States, which the architect Philip Johnson built in 1949. This classic architectural design, also called the Philip Johnson House, was completed in 1949.
The Kontio building, however, has its own Scandinavian style, built entirely from natural materials, glass and laminated timber with a solid pine and stone interior. Kontio’s Glass House buildings range from large villas to smaller compact houses and sheds. Compact houses have become particularly popular in recent years.
The display house at the Nybygget home exhibition is highly distinctive and original. The entire facade consists of large glass panels. Nature is very much part of the interior. The sturdy logs are straight and streamlined, creating a modern and exciting look. “People who prefer a more traditional look can opt for a rounded and more traditional timber profile from our extensive range”, says Brännkärr. “The interior is a dream for those who love the light and the outdoors. The walls inside have a warm and relaxing feel and are made of natural timber panels. The natural look is a popular choice today, but there are many different colours and colour styles to choose from”.
The display house is an almost perfectly planned house, built with energy-efficient, solid walls for year-round use. As the name suggests, Kontio’s Glass House 80 has a floor area of 80 square metres. As we walk through the glass doors an inviting area opens up before us, with a sofa set on the left and a kitchen with a large island straight ahead. To the right is the master bedroom with a view of the surrounding area – what a fantastic feeling it would be to wake in the morning and look out through the glass panel, surrounded by nature! Behind the kitchen is another bedroom and a large bathroom, with room for a sauna if desired.
"I really like this range of houses. It really takes risks in terms of its shape and works just as well as guest house, holiday home and studio. The quality can be felt in every detail, and with its straight lines and the large glass partitions the architectural design is highly modern. The Glass House range offers house models in many sizes. The floor plan can be changed and tailored to the customer’s requirements, and it is possible to replace individual glass parts with full timber walls, with or without a window”, says Brännkärr. Kontio has many house models in its range, ranging from the modern Glass House to more classic models. Regardless of style, the focus is always on the healthy living, the environment and the sustainability of the Arctic trees as construction material.
"Building technology is being developed so that all of Kontio’s houses are healthy for the very long term”, Brännkärr concludes.
Healthy living is the focus of Kontio's research and development concept, which it calls Kontio Healthy Living. Timber creates a safe and healthy micro-climate, as it effectively balances temperature and humidity variations in the indoor air. It has a natural ability to absorb moisture when the humidity becomes too high, and, in the same way, releases moisture when the humidity drops below the optimum level. The humidity should ideally be between 30–55%, as this reduces health problems such as respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, lethargy and headaches.
Timber houses provide comfortable accommodation all year round, as sold wood evens out temperature variations. The house remains cool in the summer and nice and warm in the winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is low during the autumn and spring, the solid walls absorb and retain solar energy. The timber also has natural antibacterial properties. Kontio Arctic Pine™ has a built-in defence mechanism against harmful microbes and fungi, which do not thrive on its wooden surfaces. The houses also provide excellent acoustics for a quiet and serene atmosphere. The massive timber walls conduct sound, but retain and blend all the notes without echo or distortion.
Kontio log houses are built from clean, safe and healthy materials. According to the emission classification of building materials, timber is in the best class, M1, indicating the high safety of the product. Wood materials do not release harmful particles or chemical vapours into the air. The safety of timber houses has also been proven over the centuries. The raw material, Kontio Arctic Pine™, comes from healthy natural forests in northern Finland.
How the houses are built
The timber for Kontio's houses is cut and machined in the factory, transported to the construction site and then assembled in the old way, log by log. The difference nowadays is that the logs are made to an exact fit in the factory–unlike in the old days–and the timber is laminated. As a result, today’s timber houses are modern, dense and energy efficient.
The laminated timber is created by dividing the timber, with the heartwood being turned outwards. The parts are glued together to form laminated logs. This makes the timber even more sustainable than nature's own logs, and they do not crack or twist. The timber is high-quality Arctic pine with a large proportion of sustainable heartwood.