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  • Kivi Sotamaa

UFOs & NFTs - Rethinking the Value Chain

The UFO building is a remarkable structure crafted entirely from cross-laminated timber, rendering it a distinctive and self-contained object. Its construction takes place through digital prefabrication within a dedicated hall, facilitating its transportation on a truck bed. Once it arrives at the designated site, the building is effortlessly positioned on steel foundations, equipped with all necessary appliances, and ready for immediate use. This method, commonly employed in our projects, relies on digital design and prefabrication. The specific circumstances surrounding shipping logistics, crane availability, and on-site conditions determine whether assembly occurs directly at the location or through the installation of larger pre-fabricated components.

Having personally delved into the possibilities of computers for creative purposes in the 1990s, I witnessed the challenges posed by the exorbitant costs of digital manufacturing technologies. However, recent advancements have opened doors to working with cross-laminated timber, an innovative material composed of solid timber elements layered in different orientations. These layers are bonded together to form isometric sheets measuring 12m or 16m in length and approximately 3.5m in width. Robotic precision allows for intricate cuts, enabling the realization of architecturally unique and customizable buildings. The versatile nature of cross-laminated timber invites experimentation and exploration, resulting in structures that not only retain the timeless advantages of log cabins but also exude a captivating aesthetic. For the past five years, our exclusive focus has been on integrating digitally fabricated wood elements into our projects, captivated by the endless possibilities they offer.

The intentional design of the UFO building is geared towards its object-like appearance, purposefully maximizing its exterior compactness. The symmetrical mirroring of the roof and bottom creates an intriguing visual effect, suggesting the possibility of the entire structure being flipped upside down. This design philosophy accentuates the building's inherent strength as a distinctive object in the surrounding landscape, diverging from contextual cues. However, once one steps inside, they are greeted with breathtaking views of the natural environment, cleverly framed by a centrally positioned skylight. The unique properties of cross-laminated timber allow for the integration of large, frameless insulated glass elements, fostering an elegant harmony between wood and glass. The interplay of these materials results in captivating spaces, forming a yin-yang constellation of transparent expanses and timber surfaces.

Beyond exploring innovative wood construction techniques and reimagining living experiences, this project also endeavors to revolutionize the way buildings are sold. By leveraging digital manufacturing files, we embarked on a groundbreaking venture with Jonathan Hull, Ulla-Maaria Koivula, and Open Sea, introducing the world's first architectural NFT (Non-Fungible Token). This pioneering concept grants buyers more than just an image of the UFO building; they gain access to the actual manufacturing files. This revolutionary approach empowers individuals, including those in Buenos Aires, to locally "print" the building components, requiring only the assistance of an assembler. Given the compact size of the structure, navigating permits and regulatory issues may not pose significant challenges.

Our approach to wooden architectural projects like the UFO extends beyond sustainability; it aligns with the vision of a green transition, reshaping the entire value chain associated with wood-based architecture. We aspire to challenge conventional architectural ideas and contemplate the intricacies of design, manufacturing, assembly, and sales processes. This comprehensive perspective prompts us to reevaluate contractual frameworks and various aspects within the architectural industry, propelling us towards a more innovative and sustainable future.


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