Architecture 1. Laminated squared log (most modern) 2.

Architecture in Finland

The vernacular architecture of Finland is
characterized by the use of wooden construction. In Finland most houses are
prefabricated while also being well thought through down to the finest detail.
Traditional homes are strongly influenced by Finland’s neighbouring countries;
Sweden and Russia. Since the country is a forested region, timber is the
natural building material while the local stone is predominantly granite. These
days wooden houses are painted mainly in a red-ochre.

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Traditional
timber houses in Finland:

1.      
Eastern
Finland (influenced by Russian traditions)

2.      
Western Finland (influenced by Swedish
traditions)

Types
of building wooden materials:

1.      
Laminated squared log (most modern)

2.      
Round
log (classical wooden houses – Eastern Finland)

3.      
Chinked log (most well-known, natural living
material)

4.      
Laminated round log (latest
trend)

5.       Golden
Pine (special type of timber)

Case
Study: Wooden Family House

Apelle, Karjaa in Finland

The building is sheltered by bed rocks and
trees. Its interior space has a continuous flow along the house, passing
through the main opening and terrace, leading into the forest. The rooms are
designed according to their specific functions and needs, and usage in relation
to the time of day. The house has an open floor plan layout like most
traditional Finnish architecture. Wood based materials are used for insulation
which heat up by means of thermal heating during the winter season. Apelle was built by two local
carpenters.

          

      
      

Weather: Finland vs Malta

 

Average Details

Rovaniemi, Finland

Maltese Islands

Highest Temperature

July = 15C

July/August = 32C

Lowest Temperature

January = 14C

February = 13C

Yearly Rainfall

44mm

43mm

Highest Daylight

July = 10hrs

July = 12hrs

Lowest Daylight

December = 0hrs

January = 5hrs

 

Although the average yearly rainfall is
approximately the same, there is a drastic difference in temperature between
the two countries. The average lowest temperature in Malta is almost equivalent
to the average highest temperature in Rovaniemi. Furthermore, the average
sunshine hours in Malta is that of 7.5 hours, where as in Rovaniemi it is only
5 hours (the lowest in Malta), with some months having no sunlight at all.

 

Suggested Home Design and Floorplan

Architect/Designer:
Dimitris Batis
Projects: Apanemi, Almyra, Paros

 

Architect/Designer: Dinda
Djodi
Projects: House/Home

 

Orientation

Good orientation, combined with other energy
efficiency features, can reduce or even eliminate the need for artificial
heating and cooling. For a climate similar to the Maltese Islands, it is
recommended to exclude direct sun by using trees and adjoining buildings to
shade every façade while capturing cooling breezes.

North orientation is generally desirable in
climates requiring winter heating, because the position of the sun in the sky
makes it easy to shade northern façades and the ground near them in summertime,
while allowing full sun penetration in winter. North-facing walls and windows
receive more solar radiation in winter than in summer.

Building Materials: External Walls

Wooden
houses, although cheaper, require more
maintenance than stone. Brick and stone houses are fireproof, durable, and
resistant to insects and rot. Stone is also able to withstand a considerable
amount of water damage unlike wood exteriors which need to be painted or sealed
on a regular basis.

Furthermore,
brick and stone can improve air quality with better energy efficiency while
also being the only cladding materials that do not emit gasses. Masonry
products make walls ‘breathable’ when used in their natural state, limiting the
amount of outside air infiltrating into the building, hence making it better
for heating control and ventilating.

Other durable options for siding is stucco, an alternative to wood.
An exterior feature wall made out of stucco can be painted to match the home’s
design and can be changed with a new coat of paint in the future. Unlike
traditional materials, stucco is a powdered material mixed with water before
being placed on walls. Depending on how the trowel is held, different designs
can be created in the wet stucco. When applying stucco to a brick or concrete
wall, a concrete bonding agent needs to be used.

Building Materials: Roofing

By
the Maltese law, only flat roofs are permitted, which can have its advantages
and disadvantages. When water accumulates, it can accelerate heat aging and
damage the membrane degradation. Blistering materials may be of a threat to the
roof’s integrity since trapped liquid between sections of the membrane expands
as it becomes a vapour. Since Maltese roofs are exposed to high UV rays
cracking may occur, so it is ideal to avoid excessive weight on the roofing
system. Properly sized gutters and downspouts where water can drain away from the
façade is key to any flat roof.

Solar panels coated with glass are used as
an alternative to roofing. By using solar panels energy costs can be cut down
by up to 60% making them worth considering in the long run.

Glass
roofing is a latest trend to create a different atmosphere by simply adding a
glass skylight. Their use is common in covering patios or indoor pools. This
roofing method can be used over the central courtyard of the house. Metal
frames, which can be covered in wood if desired, are generally used to support
the glass panel to offer structural integrity.

It is important to note that skylights may
leak during heavy rain if they have been improperly measured and fitted upon
installation. To fix this all debris should be cleared and if there are any
cracks, they should be sealed off with a layer of clear silicone along the
length.

 

Insulation

Comfort is of great importance in a building
for a healthy home environment. Leakage of warm air can occur due to multiple
reasons; a series of patched holes in exterior walls, loose fill between
ceiling joists, cracks or/and gaps around windows or/and recessed lighting, are
some of the few to mention. Hot air rises making wrongly insulated roofs a
primary source of heat loss during the colder seasons.

Insulation is beneficial as it can
significantly lower utility bills and heating/cooling costs while increasing
the comfort of the home. It can also improve a house’s “building energy rating”
which adds up value to the property. Moreover, most insulating methods are
low-maintenance and can last almost a lifetime.

A material’s R-value (the material’s
resistance to heat flowing through it) should be able to determine whether the
material used provides good insulation or not. The greater the R-value, the
better the insulating material.

Choosing
the adequate material for an aperture will give you the ability to minimize the
costs of heating and cooling. Although custom-built windows are very popular
due to their style, ventilation, and noise reduction, they might not always be
the best option.

For maximum energy efficiency the best
window types are as follows;

1.      
Awning
window (low air leakage rate because the sash closes by pressing against the
frame when compared to sliding windows – common in traditional wooden
balconies)

2.      
Casement window (offers good ventilation)

3.      
Fixed or picture window (no drafts since
completely airtight – rare and unpractical for local use)

Double or triple glazed windows help prevent
heat from escaping by reflecting it back into the room minimizing heat losses
even in harsh winters. An important factor in Malta is noise reduction, to
which glazed windows perform well. The typical amount of spaces between panes
is 6-20mm, however for effective thermal performance it is suggested to opt for
a minimum of 12mm. Double glazed windows provides better protection against
intruders and although the local crime rate is extremely low, it never harms to
take some sort of security precaution. Furthermore, the right frame material
would also be of aid in heat transfer losses.

 

Shades
are the simplest way to lessen heat losses even more. Shades should be mounted
right up against the adjacent wall and close to the glass to create a tight
seal to decrease heat gain and/or heat loss. Blinds can also reduce heat gain
while also maintaining the desired light, ventilation, and privacy. Reflective
blinds, usually white or near white, can minimize 50% heat gain when lowered on
a hot day. In winter, drapes or curtains are commonly used as they act like
blankets, insulating a building while adding warmth to rooms.

 

Internal
Finishes

A
traditional main component in hot weather homes is stone due to its resistance
to heat and moisture. There are several options to go for when it comes to
flooring, such as marble or slate. These come in various colours along the
light-dark spectrum including different patterns achieve in accordance to how
the stones are laid.

A
proper weight-bearing subfloor is recommended since stone is rather heavy.
Carpets may be added to certain areas such as the bedrooms, restrooms, and
living room to warm the space during the colder months.

Interior
walls should ideally be masonry, brick or stone, with insulation in order to
avoid moisture and heat transfer. Walls can be exposed limestone or painted. If
painted it is important to consider the function of the room when deciding on a
colour.

Feature
walls are becoming quite common in Malta. This can be achieved by either
painting one of the walls of the room in a different colour or by using a
different material on the wall. Some examples of material feature walls are;
wood veneers (slices of wood glued onto a core panel), thin slabs of marble
(for kitchens and bathrooms), stone veneer (for living and dining rooms),
coloured tiles (for a more traditional yet modern feel).

 

Outdoor
Living

A patio is an outdoor space placed directly
on the ground which may also be linked to the house, whereas decks are
suspended from the ground and has rails, similar to a balcony.

In Malta, a wooden deck is not recommended
since it will have a significant amount of exposure and weathering. A stone
patio on the other hand is ideal as it can incorporate the surrounding
landscape while giving it a classic look. Certain types of natural tone patios
can last for decades because it is impervious to weather. It can also withstand
heavy traffic, be it furniture, kitchen equipment, or foot traffic. Unlike
wooden decks, stone patios can be formed into almost any shape and size.

The foundation of the patio would ideally be
of concrete bases, with a stone or finishing. This area can be used as a
feature for barbecues or as a seating area where the family can enjoy the warm
weather while socializing with friends and family.

A patio compliments both landscaping and a
possible pool. Price depends on the materials used, size, features and the
slope on which it is placed. It is recommended to create a level foundation
beneath the patio if a slop is present.

It
is suggested to have the patio covered by having a structural tent support or
even vegetation. Trees that tolerate dry hot climates provide good source of
shade. It is important to regularly water plants, especially during the dry
season. Succulents and drought-tolerant plants are ideal for a Mediterranean
region.

A retaining wall can manage water runoff
while also help slow the flow of rainwater, hence increasing the care of the
garden. Retaining walls can be made out of different materials, the most common
in Malta are those made out of concrete block, stone veneer, and brick. It is
recommended to opt for a brick material because of its durability and also in
order to compliment the traditional style of the building. Below is a further
explained table of the materials mentioned;

Material

Pros

Cons

Durability

Concrete Block

Can be used to create curves

Can only be used for walls under 4 feet tall

Depending on the footings

Stone Veneer

Designed in almost any thickness and height

Requires a landscape architect

Varies depending installing and weathering

Brick

Compliments traditional homes

Requires special intensive drainage
accommodations

Solid structure making it very strong and
extremely durable

 

The majority of retaining walls built today use
block systems designed to integrate together into a solid strong wall. The use
of geotextiles is important since they control lateral pressure stabilization
and prevent bowing of the wall in the future.

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