Indrek Kuldkepp: “An A-frame house is a home for those who (can) calculate”

The A-frame house is an A-shaped building which, back in the Soviet era, was familiar to people as a building typology that had the roof touching the ground, or Rannapiiga. This typology is not known for its trendiness but rather for being, by square metre, at least half the price of a normal new building,” claims Indrek Kuldkepp, the founder and one of the owners of Avrame.

When designing his own house Kuldkepp followed the principle that the building is meant to worship its residents, not the other way around. He does not consider it reasonable to take bank loans with high interest for decades to live in an unreasonably huge building; instead he focuses on the feasibility of the building from the very beginning of the design process. As his own home exceeded expectations and proved to be comfortable as well as profitable, he decided to start producing the A-frame houses for the market as well.

Visualisation of new A-Frame Trio model

How did you come to the (idea of the) the A-frame building?

I was looking for a fast and economic solution that would mean I could afford a house without a bank loan and found an A-frame on Pinterest. I studied the history of this type of building and it impressed me a lot. Already back in ancient times buildings used to be triangular, although the style reached the peak of popularity in the US in 1960s and 1970s during the poorer post-war era. Here in Estonia such houses were built in 1970s for the same reason of limited resources.

Please see new AVRAME models here:

Avrame Trio
Averame Duo 

  Avrame Solo

In the US these buildings lost their popularity because of the absence of insulation. The thermal insulation materials used back then were not good for insulating inclined planes; the houses built in Estonia had poor insulation as well. Today the building materials have improved – we use SIP-panels for their off-peak price and very good thermal insulation characteristics.


What standards did you set for yourself when designing your house?

One of the conditions was that it should be reasonable enough to be built on my own. It is always hard to find good contractors. I do hear it often that people had bought high-quality materials, but in the end the building itself is still of poor quality. Therefore I was looking for a type of construction that could be built solo.  


There were no major setbacks during the construction and this encouraged us to start to resell. I have 18 years of sales experience in wooden houses and also had the support of experienced specialists. Constructing a house on your own is always difficult and it is common to be unsure about it.


Of course, one can always buy a ready-built house with a price that includes everything, including the profit made by he contractor, developer and real-estate agents. When money is not in question then why not, but when you are looking for favourable solutions then this is a subject for consideration.


How much did you save with an A-frame house?

The price for my house was about half the price of the market price, making it a bit less than 600 Euro per square meter. One of my friends asked me whether I stole the materials – how else did my project turn out to be so beneficial? But of course I bought all the materials, and stayed away from cheaper options with the details as well. I have wide pine boards on the floor and the walls are covered with Spanish clay paints.


When your budget is 1500 Euros per square meter then you do not have to cut corners – you will get high-quality collaboration and you can make something cool and stylish. When your budget is 1200 Euro then you will miss out on the coolness. But with a budget of less than 1000 Euros then you either have to build it yourself or save on materials. I gave up the coolness and acted on my own. As the whole building is basically an attic, then it can also be regarded as a kind of renunciation, because it gets complicated when trying to fit the furniture.


How long did it take to realise the original idea(s) when building the prototype?

I was searching for ideas for about 9 months, and the building took as much again. When I offer the same model to clients today, then the first nine months can be skipped - we have been through that already, and the construction itself takes much less time now because there were many things that we decided upon during that period. When ordering a house from us the foundation has to be ready, then it takes about 4 to 6 months to finish the construction. With a handy head contractor it is even possible to finish the house with 3 months.


If someone orders a house from you, what do they get?

As a basic configuration we have the frame of the building (windows, doors and the undercoating of the roof) so it is possible to assemble the so called envelope. But it is also possible to have the frame with SIP-panel insulation, the assembly of which takes only a couple of days. The client has to take care of the foundation, infrastructure and interior finishing. We offer roofs as well, meaning that clients get a prefabricated building. The large packages arrives at the construction site. The builders then raise the triangular frame on the foundation, followed by the roof boarding, then the insulation, and so on.

It is not a modular building with all the rooms ready-made where only the modules need to be joined (and which therefore have much higher prices per square metre).

Large windows on the southern facade open up views to the surrounding forest 

Would an average handyman be able to accomplish the construction on his own?

It is possible, as our drawings are very simple. So if you really would like to have the hands-on experience of building your own house then it would be a reasonable choice. Our sales are based on the fact that our frames have been thoroughly constructed in collaboration with engineers and architects and this part can thus be skipped.


You were collaborating with architect Tiit Sild – what kind of advice did he give?

I think that due to his supervision my house is much more functional and also more beautiful. There is more light in the house as we went for full-length windows and changed the locations of the doors, as he suggested. In addition we opted for the same size windows on both sides of the building, which saves expense during production as well as during construction.


You will soon be celebrating the first half year in your new home – what is your impression?

I am very pleased - the building is warm and functional, and as I previously lived in a very small house the contrast is noticeable. I was amazed by the functionality of my new house – it has just a little more than 70 square metres yet it is more than enough for three people. Not once have we had moments of commotion, we have everything and nothing is lacking. The heating uses firewood: there is a heat-proof wall and a very efficient Italian cast iron stove that keeps the house warm for about a day and a half in one go.


When did you came up with the idea to start selling this type of house to others?

Pre A-Frame era sauna and A-Frame era shed in Indrek's courtyard

My whole working career has been based on designing and selling wooden houses so already during the construction phase I was thinking how, if everything turns out well then, I would start offering it to others. We have now been marketing the house for couple of months and there are already couple of houses in production, all within a very short time. 


Our main focus is on export. Yesterday we were negotiating with our potential re-sellers in Japan and South Korea – they have grand plans. We are sticking to our schedules and can manage on our own.


There is tight competition in the housing market, why should one choose an A-frame house from Avrame?

In the Estonian market we have mainly been asked for summer houses as the economic welfare is quite high and people are looking for something larger and more interesting for a dwelling. Our concept lies in a very reasonable solution: the design is not cool, but first and foremost it is very functional.


When the next economic recession hits, then the A-frame would do well as a dwelling. Soviet era people tend to think of private houses as a luxury, but actually a house is still just a necessity and it should be affordable also in terms of lower budgets. It is easy to go for a bank loan, but when times are harder, then people are willing to contribute more themselves – this is where the saving comes from.


When ordering a house from you now at the beginning of the summer, would it be possible to move in for Christmas?

Absolutely, there are no obstacles on our side.

Interview by Liina Pulges (www.unistusteagentuur.com

Most of the awarded design proposals of the Lasita Maja architectural design contest come from Germany

After profound discussions the international Jury of the Lasita Maja architectural design contest came to the decision to announce the winners as following:
The 1st prize goes to Alucoli by Aleksandra Wódka-Kaszubska from Poland;
The 2nd prize goes to Fivefold Room by Riccardo Mariano from Germany;
The 3rd prize goes to Nest by Philipp Jacob and Eerika Alev from Germany.
In addition two honorable mentions were nominated as following:
Bognym by Ognyan Parvanov Krastev from Bulgaria, and
W7072 by Sven Aretz, Roman Krükel and Sophie Schulten from Germany.

The Jury did also decided to point out two projects as extra mentions (without prize fund):
Pieceful by Miguel Huelga de la Fuente and Iria de la Peña Mendez, Sukunfuku Studio from Spain
Pikkabiin by Matthew Springett, Alex Taylor, Harrison Dunn, Kate Slattery, Jacob Valvis, Matthew Springett Associates Ltd from UK.

The 1st prize will be awarded 3000 EUR, the 2nd prize will be awarded 2500 EUR, the 3rd place will be awarded 2000 EUR, and the honorable mentions will be awarded 500 EUR each. The prizes will be taxed according to the legislation of Estonian Republic and will be disbursed within 1 month from the announcement of the competition winners.

The members of the Jury were Mr Stefan Straif (Austria) and Mr Franck Mauxion (France) as the representatives of Lasita Maja AS, and Estonian architects Ms Sille Pihlak, Mr Karli Luik and Mr Raul Kalvo.

Mr Franck Mauxion (OLG France, Managing Director) concluded that Lasita Maja AS is very satisfyed with the results of the contest and is looking forward to enter the market with the winning design next year.

All together 49 entries from 24 different countries were submitted to the Lasita Maja architectural design contest. All the submitted design proposals can be seen online at the homepage of the contest: http://katus.eu/lasita-competition/submissions

Please download final protocol of the Jury from here.

Additional information:
Mr Tiit Sild, architect and the member of the organizing team
Phone: +372 5560 1425
E-mail: tiit.sild@katus.eu

Sneak peek into the work of the competition Jury

Jury members Stefan Straif, Franck Mauxion, Sille Pihlak, Raul Kalvo and Karli Luik

The conclusions of the Jury - the contest was successful and there are several great solutions 

Alltogether 49 entries from 24 countries were submitted to the contest. Five entries were received within short time after the deadline and the Jury decided to take them into consideration as well.

All the submitted entries were presented to the jury members well before the meeting so that they could take their time to properly study the design proposals - as a result 26 entries out of the 49 got the initial approval from at least one of the jury members and thus were included in the final discussion at the meeting of the Jury. However, the Jury took time to go through all the projects in order to have fresh opinion and not to lose any potential blockbuster designs.

The meeting of the international Jury took place on February 23rd 2017 in the headquarters of Lasita Maja AS, Estonia. At the end of the long and intense meeting the Jury concluded that the architectural design contest of Lasita Maja AS was successful and the winning projects have potential to conquer the market.


All the members of the Jury were presented at the meeting: Mr Stefan Straif (Austria) and Mr Franck Mauxion (France) as representatives of Lasita Maja AS, and Estonian architects Ms Sille Pihlak, Mr Raul Kalvo and Mr Karli Luik.


The decision of the Jury was based on the presumption that the winning designs would be readily producible, that they introduce new qualities to the existing market of prefabricated garden cabins and that they would have potential to become best sellers.

The discussions were fierce because the opinions of the Jury members in most of the cases tended to be quite the opposite - from the perspective of sales and producibility to the perspective of innovation and architectural design.

Working scene of the Jury 

Mr Stefan Straif (Gartenpro GmbH, Managing Director in Austria and Hungary)

To be honest I did not expect such a good outcome because actually we had no idea how many entries would be submitted. There were some very good design ideas and also some really well elaborated conceptual ideas.

I absolutely like the winning project because it is a very flexible system - we are hoping to have a ready-made prototype within the next half a year and to enter the market with it next year.

For me the overall outcome is perfect and very nice.


Mr Franck Mauxion (OLG France, Managing Director)

Our aim with the contest was to find new best seller(s) for the next five years. The most difficult task for the Jury was to eliminate the design proposals that would not sell on the market and those which at the moment are not producible at Lasita Maja AS.

There were at least dozen very good ideas and many design teams understood our needs. We found some very good ideas that we could implement soon.

Personally I was surprised by the project that was nominated for the second place - we can not produce it right now but I do hope it will make to the market in the next 2 or 3 years.

I am completely satisfied with the contest and its results.


Ms Sille Pihlak, architect (Estonia)

I would like to compliment the organizers of the contest for creating such a good opportunity to bring innovation into local lumber industry scene with the intention to actually put the outcome into production here as well. Estonia should develop its own signature via such small-scale structures instead of copying the well-known type of Alpine cottage. This contest is first step towards the situation where raw material is valued locally via design before it gets exported from the country.


Mr Raul Kalvo, architect (Estonia)

The contest was complicated in the terms that several projects did not actually consider the specific production possibilities of the factory and the Jury had to decide whether to include these entries in the final evaluation or to dismiss them. In the end the same aspect was regarded rather as positive, because also some of the winners did not follow the producibility requirements. All the winning design proposals each had its own qualities that proved equally interesting for the architects as well as for the representatives of the producer.


Mr Karli Luik, architect (Estonia)

The contest was complicated, because on one hand the participants had to come up with something that would be easy to produce and which at the same time would be innovative in terms of spatial qualities as well as technologically. There were very different projects - some of them were concentrating more on esthetical appearance when others aimed to create well producible systems.  

For sure the contest should be regarded as successful, because there were many interesting projects. Within such a format it is actually difficult to come up with something unprecedented. It is hard to combine good looks with spatial variety and with the wish of the customer to have something simple, inexpensive and feasible.

The typology of the prefabricated houses is actually important when to think of how much actually is produced in the factories and at the same time how much the design aspect is left unnoticed. However, it is design that has a direct influence on the space wehere we live and this is where the attention should be turned to. This contest is a great initiative and I do hope that something will really be implemented.

The winners are listed here

Please download final protocol of the Jury from here.

Interview by Liina Pulges from Unistusteagentuur

Lasita Maja: "Our goal is to stand out".

CEO of Lasita Maja Kaido Maisvee, photo by Väinu Rozental (Äripäev)
As the result of an international design contest Mr Kaido Maisvee, the CEO of Lasita Maja, would like to establish a product line that would be distinctive among competitive traders and at the same time would be simple to produce. "We are looking for interesting designs that could be produced industrially."

How would you position yourself in the European garden cabin market? Do you consider yourself innovators or reproducers?


This industry – making garden cabins – in general means copying. When you come out with something new then usually the success lasts for a couple of years; often ‘innovation’ just means changing the dimensions by a couple of centimetres. " We aim to be different." This is why we initiated the competition. We are looking for improvements that others do not offer. We want to diversify our products.

Experiment with new type of corner joint. 

In many countries the sales of garden cabins is based on department stores, which rely on cheap mass production. As our customer is a big organisation they think that they can dictate everything. Every year they ask for the same or even lower prices. We have to find ways to deal with this and so we need to do something new in a different way. It is very hard to say what exactly this is, but we do have high hopes for the present competition.


What kind of result would meet your needs?


Currently we do not have an architect in our team. Often people tend to see innovation as something that has to be visible and has to have the wow factor. But sometimes it just means a small nuance that has not been considered before. Every now and then we have been asked to have more glass (larger windows) in our houses – so that the constructions would be wide, light-weight and full of light. However, in reality it does not work like that  - you can’t just take a house, remove one wall and replace it with glass – this is not innovation, it’s not how product development works. For us it is good when we create one product line with good marketing potential. Then we are pleased.


Perhaps you will also find yourself a chief designer?


I would definitely not exclude that option. This is the kind of question we have been asking ourselves constantly. Timber is a good material and it is possible to produce almost anything out of it. With the competition we are looking for interesting design(s) that could be industrially producible. All these aspects are covered in the contest design brief.


OptiCut production line is used for cutting different wooden parts according to desired length measures

What are currently the main channels through which you find clients and sell products?


There are horticultural exhibitions, where we have not participated recently because it is quite expensive and we have not had a significant product to present. The traditional approach is to issue annual catalogues where new items are marked out as such, indicating either new products or special design items. Labelling something ‘design’ usually brings higher sales. In addition there is our webpage, in addition to which we do sell quite a lot via online retailers. Or products are represented on 20-30 different webpages all across Europe which, when they are presented in the right way they, means they will be noticed.

  • Tiit Lubi, quality assurance manager showing how Lasita Maja cabins stand together

If I were to buy one of your items from a department store or order it online, how would I receive the end product?


According to our standard the client will receive all the components packed onto pallets together with installation instructions that describe all the necessary steps, for example requirements for the foundation, etc. We do not offer installation as a service ourselves, although many of our resellers do. We can also recommend installation services when requested. In most European countries we are able to deliver our products directly to the customer.

Tenon production line - the last process in the production of the wall details is cutting the tenons into logs

Is it possible to say that the preferences of Estonians differ from those of other Europeans?


This is hard to compare as only small percentage of our production is sold in Estonia. Estonians are looking either for very cheap or for exceptional (i.e. custom-made) solutions that remain out of the industrial production range. However, from country to country customer preferences are very different. The design of garden cabins is not important in France, as the majority of customers are looking merely for a storage space. The Germans, on the other hand, have diverse expectations - they are looking for cabins as storage spaces, as garages, as barbeque houses, as recreation spaces, etc. What we sell in Germany overlaps greatly with Estonian preferences.


Back when we started the majority of our cabins had wavy and carved fascias. Today, however, this has become history and our clients prefer clear lines and modern looks.

Almost end of the process in factory: packaging

Piles of wooden windows designed and produced at Lasita Maja

How long would such a building last in our climate?


I have had a shed storage unit since 2000 and it is still up and running. I have just had to remove some moss from the roof a couple of times.


What are your most popular models at the moment?


When we look at our production output then it would be one of the models made for a French department store that sells the most. But as this department store has in total 330 outlets, and when each of them orders 3 or 4 models, then we already have more than 1000 units per order. However, this does not say anything about popularity.

From our own production range the highest sale numbers are for a modern series of flat roofed houses.

Sealing process of cabin packages. Everything is included - from wall elements and windows to smaller details (even screws)


What is the situation like in Estonia - is it still profitable to produce your buildings in Estonia or are you already looking for options to relocate your factories in order to reduce labour costs?


No, currently we have no plans to expand or relocate further east. There is still a lot we can do here in Estonia. At some point back at the end of 1990s I went to a timber-related exhibition in Belgium and they were speaking enthusiastically about Estonia. Despite our 50-year black hole we have retained our knowledge and skills in treating and working with timber. This is also relevant on the level of engineering and technical solutions. We see quite often that a well-designed machine is presumed to produce wooden details with identical dimensions, but it should not be forgotten that timber is still what we call a living material.

FSC in package stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.The FSC logo indicates that the product comes from responsible sources, it is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable.

When considering current media issues in Estonia one could assume that all Estonian forests will be cut down there are even support groups in Facebook and actions held to protect Estonian forests. How do you see that whole situation?


I think that the way the media has presented this topic has become a bit histrionic. The forests also need improving. If we talk about taking down the forests without replacing them, that of course would be an abuse, but when the trees get old they need to be taken down. Young trees will always replace the old ones. The consumption of timber in Estonia does not rely merely on Estonian forests. We do import quite a lot of material because the current chopping rates in Estonia are not enough. Therefore we cannot base our whole production on Estonian timber, as we use a lot of whitewood and not that much redwood.


Where do you get your timber?


We use around 40% Estonian timber and the rest comes from Finland and Russia.


Lasita Maja has been operating for 18 years, in which time you have become one of the largest exporters of wooden houses in Estonia. How did this all start?


I was engaged in other areas and bought windows from an enterprise called Lasita Aken for different buildings. In 1997 they invested in new machinery and were looking for extra applications for their equipment and grounds. They asked me if I would join them and establish a company producing wooden prefabricated houses. We started off in one of their factories producing both private houses as well as garden cabins.

Sealed packages of Lasita Maja cabins waiting for shipment

Recently you became part of the Dutch company Outdoor Life Group, which is one of the largest companies selling garden cabins in Europe. How was this decision made?


The Dutch have their production in the Netherlands and in Hungary, and production in the Netherlands is pretty expensive. They were looking for a solution to increase their production capacity. We had spare capacity together with a significant client base and no overlapping clients. This meant two solutions in one go. We spent almost one and a half years negotiating, and in 2014 they got the hold of 40% of Lasita Maja shares. The initial plan was to collaborate for the next 3 to 5 years and then proceed with the sale of the whole company. However, things went faster than that and already in the spring of 2016 they got hold of the remaining 50% of the shares. I kept 10% of the shares for motivation and in addition was entrusted with the development of the enterprise structure in Europe. I have to admit that they have succeeded in making the job interesting for me.


What changes were there in the Estonian factories and in your job management as a result?


Not much has changed – there is a board with one member from the Netherlands and two members from Estonia, and the Dutch do not interfere with the daily running of what we do. When the general plan is in place, then the local administration is free to decide on everyday issues. Our people, except for me, possibly do not even realise that something has changed.


Have you thought of changing the name of the brand as "Lasita" does not have a meaning?


On the contrary, the Dutch group has decided that their brand is the Estonian "Lasita Maja" as our quality is highly prized in Europe.

Interview: Liina Pulges (www.unistusteagentuur.com)
Translation: Tuuli Tsahkna
Photos: Tiit Sild

Lasita Maja Cabin contest

Katus.eu together with Lasita Maja AS are launching an international architectural design contest for finding new and innovative solutions for modern prefabricated cabins and garden houses.

The object of the architectural design contest is to find innovative solutions for small-scale modular log and/or wooden cabins that have been developed in collaboration with architects, and that could be produced by AS Lasita Maja and distributed in Estonia, Germany, France and elsewhere.

In addition, the purpose of the contest is also to raise awareness among architects about the modern technologies and possibilities of prefabricated cabins, as well as to increase the export of AS Lasita Maja.

Member of the jury, architect Sille Pihlak: “The lumber industry has an important role in Estonian economy in terms of its workforce, machinery and production capacity. Log cabins that have not been designed by architects or any kind of wooden substance that we export and that has not been “touched” by designers retreats to nothing more than just being raw material.

When the real estate developers and lumber industry would regard architects (and designers) as their everyday partners, the value of the initial stock would increase and the much needed innovation would come by in more than one economical field.

This can be easily achieved when we would combine the professionalism of our architects and the industries with the knowledge of local resources.

The present contest is a search for talents who would - in collaboration with industries who use local materials - add value to their production. This kind of product development allows us to achieve more and to defy competition both on the local an on international markets.”


The winners of the design contest will be invited for long-term collaboration to develop series of modular prefabricated cabins.


The competition brief has been approved by Estonian Association of Architects.


The deadline for submitting the design proposals is February 7, 2017 and the winners will be announced within a month.


The bonus fund available for the competition is 8500 EUR and it is divided as following:

1st prize – 3000€, 2nd prize – 2500€, 3rd prize – 2000€, and 2 honourable mentions each 500€.


There are five members in the jury: Stefan Straif (Gartenpro GmbH, Austria) Franck Mauxion (OLGFrance, France) Karli Luik (architect, Estonia) Raul Kalvo (architect, Estonia) and Sille Pihlak (architect, Estonia).

Please register to competition here

A new way to customise your home - house configurators

Katus proudly presents the first 3D house configurator for the Tube house. The Tube house configurator lets you to pick and choose between different floor layout options and material finishes. You can add a master bedroom, choose a larger kitchen or even add a second floor to the house. If you are willing to rent out a part of your future home, you can add an apartment unit. Try it yourself on https://house.creatomus.com/project/tube
The configurator lets home buyers to customise the design to suit their needs and the budget. While all design decisions are displayed in the interactive 3D model, the cost of each decision is immediately reflected in the total price for the selected design. Once happy with the configuration customers can save the design for further communication with the manufacturer and the architect of the house.
Tube house has several possible configurations. From 1-bed 130m² single family home to 3-bed 230m² house with a rentable apartment unit.

The Tube house configurator is built on the back of Creatomus’ (www.creatomus.com) novel web technology that is addressing a gap in the housing market - buying and selling custom homes online isn’t currently available. Or at least, it was not until now! Modern 3D web technologies enable something that was unthinkable mere 5 years ago - view and manipulate 3D geometry directly in your browser. In recent years there has been a rapid the rise in the development of WebGL applications by both large corporations such as Autodesk and by small start-ups like Modelo.

Photo by Martin Siplane

The idea of developing house configurators was originally conceived during a hackathon in 2015 where the founders of the company spotted that, unlike car and other product configurators, house configurators are hard to come by. Creatomus decided to address this gap in the market and after a year of software development now delivers house configurators for home manufacturers, architects and housing developers.

Click to create your own Tube house

The benefits of prefabricated home. Value your time and focus on quality. An interview with owner, manufacturer and architect.

Back in spring we met at Timbeco factory near Tallinn to discuss how the collaboration between the client, architect, manufacturer and constructor contributes to the establishing of modern houses. Our panel discussion was attended by architect Tiit Sild, Madis Lobjakas and Marek Roostar from the factory, and the undersigned. The main focus was on the question how to involve all the partners right at the beginning of the process so that designing, producing and building would be more reasonable and economical.

Meeting with the client and visiting the first built house purchased at katus.eu took place a bit later, at the beginning of the summer. 

From the left: Madis Lobjakas, Marek Roostar, Tiit Sild and Katrin Koov

How did you meet?

Madis: We had met with Tiit already before this private residence project - a year ago at the Ajujaht competition. He introduced us his idea of the architecture portal katus.eu, and then we had a common client who came to us via katus.eu.

Tiit: katus.eu is a sales environment and I was interested in how the process of selling houses to the clients actually works.

The terrace opens to the evening sun, complemented with trees of the existing fruit grove

Architecture can be as innovative as is the client. Do you find those somewhat "bothersome" clients who make you search for new solutions motivating?

Madis: In the perfect case it would be nice to be able to combine interesting ideas with available budget, and then things will get interesting. Yet it would be also wrong to say that good architecture is always expensive. It is important to collaborate.

"Tube" has adaptable design. Master bedroom (on right from living room) could be autonomous unit, for grandma, teenage child or just to rent out in Airbnb.

One story prefab home looks modest from the street, only dining room has bigger windows.

We know several emancipated women from the past who, as clients, have helped to improve architecture (f.e. the clients of the most well-known houses by F.L. Wright and M. van der Rohe have been women). What is the role of women as clients for private residence in Estonia?

Madis: Usually it is the man who attends the meetings and the woman is the one who makes the decisions. Women are also the ones who make the research beforehand. During the project we might not even meet the woman, but actually it is her who makes the choices.

Tiit: When speaking of private residences, then everything depends on what the family is looking for. And this in turn relies on (the roles of) the family members.

What would be an ideal employment relationship between the manufacturer and the architect?

Madis: It must be possible to (actually) build the house. At the same time we would not like to set up numerous restrictions to the architect. We would like to start with the completed version of the architectural design documentation and not deal with the modifications. After all, there will be changes in the construction for sure, and those solutions will be found together with the architect.

Tiit: As an architect, first of all I try to find something (interesting) for myself as an architect and as an individual - I seek to evolve and learn new things through the process. At the same time it is important for me to create good experience for the client so that in the future he / she would also dare to collaborate with architects and developers.

Marek: The clients are always ready to make the decisions when they know the price - how much it all would cost them. But when the factory seeks for ready-made architecture as the base for their calculations, then the client is clearly left aside. In an ideal world all the three partners would sit behind the same table from the very beginning and discuss all the details - what and how - from the scratch

Evening sun

When thinking of prefab houses, then one almost has to think of the mass produced standard design houses. But your approach is more like tailoring instead of mere production?

Madis: It is true that we have not made two buildings that are identical. Even when they might look very similar from outside, the interior has always its own personal touch. Which means that every building has its own design. Our clients are not looking for standard solutions to adjust themselves with. Those kind of people will look into the catalogues.

Tiit: I have understood that for you producing private residences is a refreshing change from the factory's main work process which is to produce prefabricated wall and floor panels for apartment buildings.

Madis: To be true - producing custom-design architectural solutions is actually just a part of our activities - to ensure stability. And it is also useful for developing new solutions for Estonian market. We export mainly prefabricated details. Estonian market makes up around 5-10% of our total output. And still we are just one of the few who contribute to Estonian market. In addition to different development projects, we produce around 10 private residences per year. When looking at the participants of the Estbuild international building fair, then there are not many Estonian factories of prefabricated houses represented.

Why to build with timber?

Madis: Timber has been used for building from the beginning of time. Stone as building material in Estonia was introduced much later. Today the market between timber and stone as building materials is divided almost equally. Timber as building material bears much more possibilities than stone. But of course, it has its restrictions too. The main restrictions lie in the legislation. For example - it is possible to build with timber just up to certain heights. What makes timber specific is its lamination - timber constructions by their nature are very technical, especially when it comes into details.

Tiit: When the choice has already been made between timber and stone, then I highly recommend to decide upon prefabricated houses, as the production methods in the factory allow higher precision that it would be possible on the construction site. And even though at first the price for prefab solutions seems higher, then in the end there is no real difference - provided that the builder on the site has a legal contract.

Marek: With the legal settlement the end price for the prefabricated house might be even lower. When to follow the modern standards for energy efficiency, then the quality difference is obvious. Not to mention the interior climate. Also, there is the question about historical preferences - Timbeco is one of the oldest manufacturers of pre-fabricated timber houses, 25 years ago we started with log houses. The growth of Timbeco resembles the section of the development of Estonian lumber industry: starting with manually crafted logs, then continuing with machine-crafted logs and modular houses to achieve higher energy efficiency. Timber has been valued more and more, and it has brought about the involvement of more labour as well.

All pannels of the walls and ceilings are fabricated and insulated  in  factory to ensure high quality. After that they are carefully packaged until set up in construction site.

The same question goes to the architect. You could use all the materials, but you prefer timber?

Tiit: Because of its strength it has been quite a conscious decision to start offering timber to my clients. Partially also because I myself wanted to learn more about timber and to develop what we have here in Estonia - using timber in construction and contribute to innovative solutions. At the same time, using local and renewable resources helps to reduce the ecological footprint. Couple of times I have succeeded in my convincing.

It seems that the new generation of architects is more interested in new technologies. There have been experiments to use robots to build timber constructions and several results may be seen in public urban space.

Marek: Architect has quite an important role when choosing the material(s). The clients often tend to be confident in their vision that at times may go back to their childhood, but architects are the ones we can collaborate with by introducing our production facilities.

Madis: Awakening is a long-term process, the results cannot be seen at once. One of the smart moves we made is offering the possibility to come and see how the large "lego" pieces of your house are being made. Also the clients of this house came to see the process and tried to guess where the pieces would fit. Approximately half of our clients use the possibility to come and visit us during the working process.

Tiit: Another issue is the speed of producing the details - the elements for one building may be ready just within couple of days. The complication lies in finding that free time to produce these details in-between the process of manufacturing main products.

In which direction the producing of prefab houses is currently moving?

Madis: Our goal is to deliver as ready-made products as possible which means enlarging our completeness. The change on the construction site should lie in the amount of necessary workload that would be replaced with prefabricated details. In Norway we are currently involved in a project for 18-story building where all the exterior walls have been prefabricated. When these details are mounted, the result is already airtight and with finished surface. This means remarkable saving in terms of the budget. In addition it also guarantees good energy efficiency. The goal is not to build all the houses from timber. It is reasonable to use proper materials where necessary, for example to combine timber with concrete frames.

Marek: This is where the design gets complicated - the designers need to know all the materials and how to combine them. Sales teams need to bring in people with engineering backgrounds to be able to explain the solutions to the clients. And the production has to be flexible in order to be able to fit together all the different materials. All the departments have their challenges.

View from living room to corridor and kitchen (opening on right)

Katriin Hõim - interview with the landlord

We have just been visiting the construction site and we were wondering how well the building that you have chosen from the website (katus.eu) fits exactly to this site. This brought us to the question - which was first - the site or the design?

By the way, our neighbour has also told me how grateful he is for our house that fits in so well into the surrounding environment. In our case, it all happened at the same time - we were looking for the site near Tallinn and also followed katus.eu website. This design was the only one that both of us - me and my husband - liked. Then we brought the site and got in touch with Tiit. At the same time we were also looking for possible manufacturers.

How long was the whole process?

Two years - it took us one year to sell our previous house and find the new site. When we had found the site, it took exactly one year until the house was finished. We did spent quite some time at the municipality with all the required paperwork.

How did this happen that the house fits so well to the site?

Initially we intended to place the house to the site at another angle - 90 degrees shifted from what it is now. But then we understood that the present position is logistically better. From the street the house looks nothing special and one could even say it is just another box. It does not raise any interest in passers-by. But on the other side it offers extensive views into the garden. We have been told that it is an interesting house, because it is not easy to comprehend its real size. The sections of the building are so different. We like that when sitting in the living-room it is possible to see the sky, moon and the stars.  

Big livingroom window facing west

Aeral photo of the site

It is very nice that the beautiful old garden with all its apple-trees and flowerbeds has been preserved and that the house was inserted into existing environment. It seems that also the construction team has shown respect to this and almost tip-toed around the building. How was the collaboration with the architect?

Everything went very well. During the design phase our collaboration was pretty intense, but later, during the construction phase we did not meet so much. At the beginning we positioned the modules in many different ways to see which is the best configuration. We positioned the bedroom under the lime, which turned out to be very good decision - this is the sheltered side of the site. One familiar person with pendulum came for a visit and was also commenting the good placement of the house. He/she even asked who helped us and we had to reveal that it was because of the "requirements".

House faces west, and greenery of the pre-existing garden creates safe and cosy atmosphere.

Tiit: When Katriin sent in the inquiry I looked up the site on the map and placed the house on it in scale and I instantly saw that it was a perfect fit. The first version of the design had a garage at one end, but we replaced it with bedroom.

When did the producer got involved and which were their conditions?

They were involved right from the beginning. The first thing they proposed was to make the living-room narrower by half a meter in order to avoid the need for gluelaminated beams and thus optimize the production.

Did you have previous experiences with building your own house and if so, how does the current experience differs from the last one?

We bought our previous house when it was already half-built, we did not have much money and the construction team was made up pretty randomly. I myself had to lead the whole project. Compared to that the present situation is more than perfect - the producer and the construction team is the same, they settled everything for me and I only had to pick the colours.

Visit the original project here.

Interview by Katrin Koov, president of

Estonian Association of Architects

Photos by Martin Siplane

Photos from the factory by Katriin Hõim

Drone photo by Tiit Sild

Original article in Estonian was published in "Maja" architectural magazine

How much does it cost to build a house?

With each choice you make, you can reduce your costs on housing exponentially and thus, leave more money for living, traveling or buying that new car you've had your eye on.

Do you know the saying "building a home is higher mathematics"?

Based on the amount of information you are supposed to work through when making a decision, the saying is accurate - only by carefully analyzing every detail can you be sure of a successful deal. Needless to say: the salesmen are people too, so the more you know, the better it is.

Transporting elements of prefab home by Elumaja LLC in Tartu Estonia.

Do your homework!

The best (and the simplest) way to get a feel for the potential price of your home (an approximate square footage price) is to look around in your neighborhood: ask around, consult real estate brokers (consultation is usually free), ask your friends, search the web - the more insight you have, the better deal you are likely to make.
After you have calculated an average square footage cost, you will multiply that cost by the finished square footage of your house plan to get a rough estimate. Simple as pie!

Assembly of first spatial unit of prefab home by Elumaja LLC.

An easy and a fast way to get the idea about costs is to compare your future house price with the new houses on sale in your area. Look at newly constructed homes that are similar in size, style, quality, and features to the home you want. Take the price of the home, deduct the price of the land, and divide that amount by the square footage of the home. More exact method would be calculating a construction budget item-by-item.
Here’s a budget template to help you out.

Go to the source (no middle-men)

It's a well-known fact, but the more middle-men you use the higher the price will be. Easy, right? Not really!

On average, a person uses about 3 to 4  different middle-men to get a product or a service. A solution to this is simple. For example, instead of going to a supermarket to get all of your groceries (dairy products, meat, veggies), you could visit local farmers to get the stuff. By doing so, you'll 'cut out' the purchasing managers, transportation and the grocery stores themselves, reducing the price of your food at the same time.

The same applies to housing. You could buy a fully furnished house and just worry about moving in. Or you could buy house plans off the internet (there are many such sites on the web) and let a local contractor build it.

Or you could build a house yourself. If DIY is a mystical combination of letters that makes no sense to you whatsoever, try building a greenhouse. It really is that easy!

By the way: buying stuff from the source (manufacturer) is the next big thing!

Less is more

The most expensive areas in a home are the bathrooms and the kitchens: the number of windows and/or doors their size and quality can and will also affect the cost. as can vaulted ceilings and high roof pitches.

Long story short: many houses are just too "bling" having excess features or elements, that will drain money during the construction and after you have moved in.

Assembling second unit of prefab home by Elumaja LLC.

In different parts of the world the housing culture varies a lot: in Scandinavia, for example, people are interested in a more natural living, focusing on keeping the costs down and the environment clean. Other parts of the world still seem to be hooked on the notion, that bigger is better. In terms of showing off, yes - that is exactly right. But in terms of living?

Some final details need to be fixed and there it stands, ready to move in.

If you have a house that is expensive to build (mortgage) and expensive to maintain (time&money), how come is that an investment for you and your family? It seems more of an investment for the banks and/or real-estate developers, not you?

The truth is, a house can be built for less than $35,000 and at the same time, it can cost more than $3,500,000 - it's all up to you.

Just remember: a good home doesn't have to be expensive, but an expensive home doesn't have to be good.

Photos by Tiit Sild

Kodasema shows the future of home building.

Small prefabricated house from a company called Kodasema has been erected on the lawn in front of the Tallinn Creative Hub. It is a rather unique house with 27 square-metres of usable floor space, built-in cupboards and several surfaces for functional cross-usage (e.g. shower area is also used as a sink). I will be talking to Ülar Mark, one of the creators of Kodasema house concept, about the way they are trying to change the world while also hoping to shake the foundations of housebuilding industry.

Members of Kodasema searching for a name for the initiative.

Tiit Sild: Kodasema is a village in Roosna-Alliku Parish in Järva County that is just about everything Wikipedia has on the place. What is Your Kodasema?


Ülar Mark: Yes, there is a village and our name comes from there. In fact, the house built by Kodasema can only be a KODA.

The whole house is designed the way you could easily assemble and disassemble it. First assembly of Kodasema house took place in the factory.

During TAB (Tallinn Architecture Biennale), you invited us to participate in a three-hour discussion group. The topic was “Footprints” and the discussion revolved around new technologies, the future of building industry, lifecycle of buildings, business models in housebuilding industry, tax fraud in building construction and ecological footprint created by a person over his or her lifetime. Such a global subject matter discussed by people with interesting opinions, created a perfect atmosphere for ambitious ideas. You organised 5 separate three-hour discussion groups for people with different backgrounds. What was the aim of these discussions?

Ülar: Our aim was to look at the concept of residential construction in a wider and more holistic manner. The main challenge, as is the case with our KODA project, was to avoid the trap of “it has always been done this way”. The world and the possibilities it offers have changed significantly in the last 20 years. However, construction is a conservative field with a long established network of participants who are not keen on change.

We introduced our work, explained what we do and what we have accomplished after one year in business but also listened to suggestions what to consider while building a place for living.


Floor slab of Kodasema house does not need heavy foundation, but correct leveling is important.

Bathroom is located behind the kitchen unit, as well as most of the smart technical solutions and the brain of the house. Preistalled kitchen has a weird appearance in direct sunlight.

but the envelope will be closed only minutes after.

Frontal panel of the Kodasema house is transported and assembled as a whole piece. Precision is important, so the windows and door have no frames.

Setup is complete, let the party begin...

Lighted entrance is acting as a lantern, sending an invitation to curious people walking nearby.


Kodasema’s goal is to elevate the production of prefab houses to a completely new level. You often compare it to the automotive industry. What are you doing in a different way compared to, for instance, an ordinary plant that manufactures houses from flat elements?  

The main difference is the reduced or almost eliminated workload on the construction site. A KODA is built in just 3-5 hours and that’s it. It doesn’t even need foundations. The recommended soil preparation consists of spreading a layer of gravel prior to placing the house in position. Plus the exterior and interior decoration panels can be quickly installed. Traditionally interior finishing work is mostly performed on site, after the prefab house is set up, but in our case all of that’s done at the plant. This ensures better quality and lower installation costs. Of course, water supply, electricity and sewerage connections still have to be sorted out. Comparing it to a car factory is fitting, really. Why don’t houses come with sophisticated electronics? Why can’t houses be made with minute precision using robots? Why do all cars have nice, carefully considered designs but most houses seem to be constructed in a hurry, often with no design to see or speak of? It’s a glaring juxtaposition when you remember that a used car usually ends up as scrap within about 15 years, but a house is expected to remain in use for centuries. Logically, houses should have better design and functionality, but sadly the reality is very different.

One of the founders of Kodasema, Ülar Mark (second from the left) is giving a tour to curious visitors.


Is Kodasema more like a traditional house manufacturer or a startup that is still looking for its business model?


Ülar: Kodasema can rather be described as a startup, that is looking for a new approach to building construction and construction process as a whole. For example, our house does not have window sashes in the traditional sense of the word. They are simply unnecessary since the whole panel itself is the window sash. Usually window openings are designed to be fitted with window sashes at a cheaper price. However, this adds a number of problems: the space between the opening and window frame must be adequate for fastenings, the sash itself must be constructed of chambers, etc. All this in order to fill the opening while actually simultaneously creating thermal bridges.


The creators of Kodasema house are six people with completely different backgrounds. Tell us briefly what these people do and what drives them. What brought this group together?


At the moment everybody seems passionate about the Koda project. Their backgrounds, however, are indeed very different. Hannes Tamjärv has founded a bank and a school and has been the brains behind a number of endeavours. Taavi Jakobson has made a name for himself in international administration of IT field and is also a writer. Kalev Ramjalg is a Master of building from concrete and a teacher who has also written several plays. Marek Standberg is simply a man of multiple talents ranging from chemistry to drawing comics. Andres Kaur is a project manager who has put up plants. And Ülar Mark, an architect who has, in addition to designing houses, launched the Estonian Centre of Architecture and created theatre design. All in all, it would be quite difficult to find a field this team cannot form an opinion about. Obviously, we also have several people who deal with specific problems: structural designer, designers for ventilation, water and sewerage etc.


You are completely devoted to the creation of Kodasema house. The first prototype is ready. What have people´s reactions been? Are they willing to live in Kodasema house?


Initial reactions have been overwhelming but we are trying to keep a cool head about it. First of all, we have already determined areas where improvements could be made and secondly, the measure of our success will be the number of Koda houses we manage to sell. I think we are providing a well-thought-out space and it shows. Before long, we shall be testing living in the house at its current location and there is no shortage of volunteers. The first trial will include us and then everyone else who wants to try and give us feedback.  



Kodasema houses look elegant, light and a little delicate. So what are they made of? What materials are used in KODA’s walls, ceiling and roof?


The walls, floor and ceiling are of a similar composition: fibre-concrete on the outside and cross laminated timber boards on the inside, with vacuum insulation between them. All of the elements are joined into a whole using plastic beams. Combinations of concrete and timber like this make interior decoration easier and save plenty of space and materials, because the number of layers is reduced.

Small house needs precision in process. One of the early assembly models showing the connections between house elements. 

In your Kodasema house design solutions you have implemented interesting elements, such as old sailcloth patterns applied to exterior thin fibre-panel wall surfaces in the course of their moulding, resulting in a truly special texture and lightness.


That was achieved after months of testing with all sorts of plastics, films and PVC boards.

Team member Marek is experimenting with different patterns to give character to outer appearance of Kodasema.

Final result is appealing and ecological, recycling sailorcloths, capturing their pattern for future generations.

Has the development process of Koda house been slower or faster than expected?


We hoped to reach the first prototype sooner but, in hindsight, it has actually been a fast pace process considering that we questioned and considered the necessity and form of almost every detail.


Do Kodasema houses need foundations?

KODA doesn’t need foundations. The structure was calculated so as to allow the floorboards to rest anywhere on stones.

First prototype of the sink in bathroom.


What are the development stages of a house as a product? How often do you meet?

Looking back, there seems to be a certain rhythm to our work, but during the work process we just did what seemed right to us, often manoeuvring between issues that emerged. We did not held specific meetings, it actually feels like we have been living together for the last year and concentrating only on this project. Initially we worked from 9 to 5 and later almost around the clock. I can´t imagine we would have got even close to our current results, if everybody had worked traditionally at his desk in an office, meeting once or twice a week.

One of the many meetings of Kodasema people, discussing smart technologies involved.

How long does it take for a Kodasema house to be ready - from producing the elements at a plant to actually assembling the house?

The first prototype was ready within a year. At the moment, our aim is 2-3 weeks at a plant.


Many similar undertaking have been less than successful. To date there has been no breakthrough in the field of modern modular houses, in terms of both technology and appearance. What makes you different?


I could list lots of reasons, I guess. Why can you manufacture cars in modules and not houses? The car market is more uniform; there’s less fluctuation. One of the issues with the construction industry is that real estate booms are interspersed with more subdued periods of demand. Add to that the different wishes of different customers, regional differences and strict regulations of local authorities on building plans and implementation. Then there’s the pricing pressure on the house, which comes from the cost of the plot?  


Early 1 to 1 scale  mockup of the house (left) helped to  understand the possibilities of the space and also to figure out more creative solutions.

You have finished the first prototype. What are the main lessons you have learned during the process, how will the next house differ from the first one?


The prototype is and will be a test house. During the whole process, we allowed ourselves to make mistakes. If you don´t allow errors, it is very difficult to come up with something new. If the prototype didn´t have any faults, it would have been a wasted opportunity. The main lesson is to remember the simple truth: the importance of a team and their dedication, i.e. time.  In fact, the willingness to dedicate yourself and concentrate on something is on the decline. As a result, original solutions have become scarce. Main emphasis is on cheapness and sales.


You are an architect. You gave up working with fellow architects and focused on a new and quite specific field that demands a different set of skills. What is its appeal for you?


To me, everything that surrounds us is one single environment. When we build something on this planet or shift materials from one location to another, we should think about how to do it in the best possible way. If there were a better approach or term than architect(ure), I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to use it. I can’t agree to anyone hijacking the concept of architect(ure) and limiting its scope. If I need other skills for more efficient project work, I’ll have to acquire them. I’m fascinated by how deep I can become immersed in my work, thoroughly researching new issues until I find clear and exhaustive answers. After all, an answer to every question we pose exists somewhere out there. Once you achieve the result you want, you should review the initial questions you asked, as they often can and should be rephrased in view of your achievements. That’s something you can do repeatedly, defining your objectives again and again. The conventional practice is for the architect to do the commissioned work and then forget about it ASAP, because tomorrow’s a new day and a whole new world. For various reasons, input from the architect is less and less required in drafting the concept of a building. And later, when construction’s underway, everyone prefers the architect to get involved as little as possible. I was never interested in going down that road. I did try to adjust my attitude, but it never worked.


Now that you are involved in product development, how does your workday differ from the time when you worked only as an architect?  


More meetings, details, abstract discussions, creativity, doing U-turns and starting things all over. Much less cursing, gossiping, nagging, conflicts and disputes within myself.

What is your next big objective?


I am not sure about the next one after we have achieved our first simple objective – build thousands of houses that are becoming better in quality and design and cheaper in price. As a professional I feel more like a car designer than an architect, the only difference being that I also feel responsible for the way the car parks look.  


Founders of Kodasema: Hannes Tamjärv, Taavi Jakobson, Ülar Mark, Kalev Ramjalg, Marek Strandberg, Andres Kaur

Photos by: Andres Kaur

Here you can find more information about Koda.

Founder of Kodasema Ülar Mark in the picture below) was interviewed by Tiit Sild (katus.eu). Ülar was also a jury member in the architecture contest of prefabricated houses.

Dekleva Gregorič, Slovenian architects designed cabins for Katus.eu!

Katus.eu is proud to announce cooperation with well-known Slovenian architectural office Dekleva Gregorič. The architects have proposed 3 cabins with distinctive designs meant to be used  as either small living units, summer houses, home offices or saunas. “Dekleva Gregorič is a firm whose individual buildings vary considerably in appearance, because with their conceptually developed projects the architects from Ljubljana respond in a special way to the respective context.” chief editor Christian Schittich in DETAIL 05/2015.

All 3 cabins will be produced as a whole spacial units, are easy to transport and need only lightweight basement or just some supporting stones under constructions. 3 different size designs vary in functionality, but have all plans and terraces that face towards the sun.

Monohouse - M - 20m² is designed according to new Swedish building regulations* and does not need a building permission. The whole living, cooking, dining and sleeping area is one big space that can adapt to your own needs.

The smallest of three designs, Monohouse - S – 14 m² is able to accommodate different functions.

The most spacious one, Monohouse - L - 25m² has space for two double beds and could accommodate up to 4 persons. However, the design enables for a completely empty unit as well, to be used as a shell of any desirable programme of future users.

You can check out all the cabins designed by Dekleva Gregorič right here.

About Dekleva Gregorič architects:

Image: //media.voog.com/0000/0007/0033/photos/06_%20XXS%20house_dekleva-gregoric_photo%20paternoster%20%20copy.jpg

XXS house, photograph Matevz Paternoster

The work of Dekleva Gregorič architects first received international attention with XXS house and was awarded the Silver Plate, European Architecture Award Luigi Cosenza, in 2004, and the WALLPAPER* award, Best breakthrough designers, in 2005. In 2009.

Metal recycling plant, photograph Matevz Paternoster

The Metal recycling plant ODPAD was nominated and shortlisted for the Mies van den Rohe Award 2009, was awarded at the International Architecture Awards 2009, and won Plečnik’s Medal prize in Slovenia among others. In 2009 they also won the international 40 under 40 award from the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies.

Clifftop house in Maui, photograph Cristobal Palma

In 2012 the Clifftop house on Maui received 2nd place at the AIT awards, in the Luxury Living category, and at the International Architecture Awards 2012. The same year the office was selected for a Highly Commended group of practices for ’21 for 21′ WAN AWARDS 2012 – searching for “21 architects for the 21st Century. The initiative aims to highlight 21 architects who could be the leading lights of architecture in the 21st Century; outstanding, forward-thinking people and organisations who have the demonstrable potential to be the next big thing in the architectural world.”

Cultural Space of European Space Technologies by Dekleva Gregorič architects together with Bevk Perović architects, OFIS architects and Sadar + Vuga architects. Photograph Tomaz Gregorič

Two of their projects, Housing Perovo and KSEVT (Cultural Centre of EU Space Technologies), were nominated for the Mies van den Rohe Award 2013. Recently, their latest finalized project: Compact Karst House, has been nominated for the Mies van den Rohe Award 2015.

*You can check out the original version Swedish building regulations in Swedish here, but as the text is not yet translated into english, you could get an idea of the content checing this rough translated version (by google translator) here.

Estonians And Lithuanians Win Prefabricated Wooden House Architecture Competition March 24, 2015

The winners of the architecture competition organized by web-based architecture marketplace Katus.eu for prefabricated wooden houses were announced on monday, 23th of March at the Solaris Centre. The winning design for the Stavanger development site in Norway came from Estonian architecture firm ARS Projekt (Rasmus Tamme, Reio Raudsepp, Rene Safin, Evelin Eelmaa, Joonas Saan, Kristjan Männigo, Kristina Oolu, Karolin Kõll) and the winning design for the Ülenurme site near Tartu, Estonia came from the Lithuanian firm Paleka Archstudija (Rolandas Palekas, Dalia Zakaite, Mantas Skirmantas).

The international architecture competition drew 47 entries from 21 countries, the furthest of which came from Taiwan, Australia and the United States. The competition was organized by web-based architecture marketplace www.katus.eu in conjunction with timber house manufacturers Nurban AS and Kodumaja Kinnisvaraarenduse OÜ. The competition was announced last autumn with the goal of finding modern, smart and attractive solutions for two development sites: Svertingstad Gård near Stavanger, Norway and Ülenurme near Tartu, Estonia. The jury selected three winning entries for both the Norwegian as well as the Estonian sites.


The main organizer of the competition, Tiit Sild, and his web-based architecture marketplace katus.eu is focused on the idea of making our living environment better. "I believe that there is no reason why a prefabricated house shouldn’t also be a prime example of modern architecture,” Sild said. “An architecture competition was a good opportunity to inspire architects to create modern designs for prefabricated houses out of the most popular construction material in Estonia – wood. Estonia has become Europe’s largest timber house exporter, which gives us the prime opportunity to become a ringleader in the modern architecture and design of wooden houses.”


Margus Pauts, member of the jury and Managing Director of timber element and modular house manufacturer Nurban AS says that he’s very satisfied with the results of the competition: “We’re looking for the kinds of houses that people would really want to live in. And I can assure you that the competition was a success because we found just such designs.” Another jury member, Lembit Lump of Kodumaja AS, added that there were many competition entries that he found architecturally intriguing, which accounted for the manufacturing capabilities of the Estonian timber industry.


Svertingstad Gård, Norway


1st place: 5000€, design NIHE - ARS Projekt OÜ (Rasmus Tamme, Reio Raudsepp, Rene Safin, Evelin Eelmaa, Joonas Saan, Kristjan Männigo, Kristina Oolu, Karolin Kõll) – Estonia (on upper picture left)


2nd place: 3500€, design WOODY - 3+1 Architects (Gert Guriev, Markus Kaasik, Riin Kersalu, Kerstin Kivila, Taavi Lõoke, Mihkel Meriste, Andres Ojari, Ilmar Valdur) – Estonia


3rd place: 2000€, design RHC1PA - Anna Zukowska Architecture Studio, Maciej Žukowski – Poland


Ülenurme, Estonia

1st place: 4000€, key word PRIVATE CIRCLE, Paleka Archstudija (Rolandas Palekas, Dalia Zakaite, Mantas Skirmantas) – Lithuania (on second picture left)


2nd place: 2500€, key word SEE, Karisma Arhitektid (Risto Parve, Kai Süda, Margit Valma) – Estonia


3rd place: 1500€: key word TRFGHM, Gianluca Pelizzi Pelizziarchitettura – Italy


VELUX special mention for best use of roof lighting: 700€, key word BOK-BOK, Veljko Armano Linta, Ana Armano Linta, David Azinović, Ivana Ćavar – Croatia


Jury special mention: key word POSTBARN, raumspielkunst Architectural Design & Concepts, Florian Lachenmann – Germany


The prize money will be paid out to winner by the Estonian Cultural Endowment and they will be contacted by the competition organizers within 15 days.


The competition works will be on display on the second floor of the Solaris Centre, in front of the Apollo bookstore until April 5th.


The architecture competition was supported by the Estonian Cultural Endowment, the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Velux, Q-Haus, Fenestra, the Tartu City Government, the Enterprise Department of the Tallinn City Government, entertainment centre Solaris, the Estonian Centre of Architecture, the Norwegian-Estonian Chamber of Commerce, Puukeskus, the Estonian Woodhouse Association and the Enterprise Estonia Regional Development Fund


A web gallery of competition works can be seen here.


Katus.eu is a web-based architecture marketplace what strives to improve our living environment by bringing together the best of high-quality, modern design with the manufacturers of prefabricated houses. The designs on our website are available to all first-rate house manufacturers.


Additional information:

Tiit Sild


+372 55 601 425