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EKA's 'Pattern Building' concept could be used for schools and apartments

The Elektrilevi training center in Kiili, Harju County.
The Elektrilevi training center in Kiili, Harju County. Source: ERR

The two-story Elektrilevi training center in Kiili, Harju County, is a unique building, not only in Estonia but in the world. The center was constructed using the principles of "Pattern Building," developed at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA).

At first glance, Elektrilevi's new training center in Kiili looks like any other regular wooden building. However, it is in fact a unique "Pattern Building" developed at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA).

The building was assembled using a series of bricks, similar to Lego blocks, that were produced beforehand in a factory.

"The space module consists of a ceiling, a floor and a frame, so it's essentially a box of frames with no sides. You can put facade, exterior or interior walls on those sides, but you can also bring a space module here as a box with open sides and by stacking them next to each other we can create a bigger interior space," said Renee Puusepp, head of EKA's Pattern Building research group.

If more space is required, it is possible to remove one of the outer walls and put in an additional module next to the resulting opening. Doing so means the old outer wall can then be used with a new module.

According to Puusepp, flexibility is considered highly important when creating a "Pattern Building." It is not necessarily the type of approach that could be used for theater buildings or concert halls for instance, but it could be well-suited for schools, hospitals, apartment blocks or even prisons.

Architect Vahur Sova, who visited the Elektrilevi training center building for ETV show "Aktuaalne kaamera," said current trends favor these kinds of more economical and simpler approaches to construction and design.

"There are now modular wooden houses being built, where everything has already been done, room by room, including furnishings. However, there hasn't yet been a kind of universal concept that can be adapted to every situation. They've been relatively site-based or project-based so far," Sova said.

"Pattern Buildings" are designed based on the principle that they can be dismantled and then reassembled in a different form, if so desired.

So, screws rather than nails have been used for instance, as removing nails will likely damage the wood and it is important to ensure that remains intact.

In the next two years, two kindergartens are set to built in the Põhja-Tallinn district of the Estonian capital. However, the concept is also expected to prove attractive for projects elsewhere in Europe.

"At the moment, a large German construction corporation is interested in adopting it in Germany, and so, work is underway to adapt this for the German market. Hopefully they will be produced in Estonia and provide solutions for school buildings and kindergartens," Puusepp said.

While the modules produced in Estonia so far are connected to a specific project, Puusepp said that in future, the "Pattern Building" approach will be free for everyone to use, just like Wikipedia.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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