Page updated 21.4.2015

Park trees given a new lease of life by design students

Park trees get a new lease of life as they are processed into park benches by TUAS students. The trees, which have been felled from the oldest parks in the City of Turku, have been used already since the 1980s.

Text and photos: Martti Komulainen

Elm and oak logs stored in the Koroinen farm in Turku are waiting for further processing. First they will become planks and then furniture or, with less processing, park benches. TUAS’ design students Retu Hämäläinen and Juuso Cajan work the old park trees into benches for an upcoming park in Perno.

The trees, which are at the end of their lifespan and have been felled from the centre of Turku, are processed further as a part of TUAS’ project activities in resource efficiency.  - Recycling old park trees is a part of a bigger plan, where we try to find waste material from Turku to be utilised as new products, says Piia Nurmi, Leader of the Research Group in Research Efficiency at Turku University of Applied Sciences.

The tree tells what it wants to become

The possible new purpose of use and the level of processing of aged park trees are defined by the tree’s properties. - The tree tells what it wants to become, describes Lecturer in Design Hannu Parkkamäki, who has been involved in projects on the further use of park trees for years. Sometimes the furniture, like the park benches currently being worked on, follows the natural shapes of the tree.

Some of the logs are sawn into planks for public space furniture. Products have been made, for example, for public spaces of the City of Turku, the Dream Park, the Saaronniemi beach, the lobby of Brahea Centre for Training and Development at the University of Turku, on the yard of TUAS’ Sepänkatu campus, indoor spaces of educational institutes and trade fairs.

The felled park trees are mainly sawn and dried, which enables the preservability of the tree material for further processing. The park trees are sawn with a movable saw in the processing area of the Koroinen farm in the spring and autumn. In the future, sawing bees will also be organised in cooperation with students in vocational education, for example with forestry students from Livia College. Cooperation with companies will also expand and deepen. The aim is to discover the terrific raw material as extensively as possible.