Barrus – wooden to the heart

The office of AS Barrus in Võru County has an attractive solution which is a tribute to wood as a building material: the building won a special prize in the Wooden Building of the Year competition.

„Previously, we had offices in three different locations. The company grew, so we needed more space, and we also thought that a new office building would help to create a team spirit and solve issues faster,“ Andres Linnasaar, Member of the Management Board of AS Barrus, describes the origins of the new office. „The third factor was that engineers are in high demand here in the Võromaa and Setomaa regions. About 30% of our own engineers commute to work from Tartu. A comfortable office is one of the arguments to motivate them with.“

The choice of location was discussed with all parties involved: how to plan the entrance through the gate so that the person entering wouldn’t have to walk through the production area, how to solve the logistics of the driveway.

„The building was constructed by OÜ Selista Ehitus and designed by ROK Projekt OÜ: we had previously completed several successful projects with Karmo Tõra,“ Linnasaar names the partners.

The wooden structure of the building highlights the beauty of the material

Barrus’ new building has a wooden structure and the rooms were planned with a certain growth margin – the calculated margin is currently approx. 25% and a new wing can be added to the building if needed.
Architect Karmo Tõra says that designing a larger building with wooden structure was a valued opportunity: „With this building, we appreciate wood as a material. Barrus is a woodworking company and the wooden structure is appropriate here.“

Tõra explains that the location of the office building next to the production area was indicated in the terms of reference and that the architectural solution took the hill terrain of southern Estonia into account: „The building stands on “legs” so that the office has an overview of the adjacent production area. If we had designed a single-story building, the log sorting line and storage area would have obstructed the building and the view.“

Linnasaar says that the space planning was thought out carefully. „The ground floor is occupied by production and sales, broadly divided into three units: log purchasing, production and sales of sawn timber and manufacturing and sales of components. The area for sales of components is separated from the sawmill with a glazed wall – this provides separation while maintaining visual contact,“ describes Linnasaar. „The accountant, the Management Board, the IT department and a couple of meeting rooms are on the first floor – these units require less moving around.“

Wood displayed in ceilings and walls

Two blocks extending through the building are divided into two wings with a central corridor with glazed facade in each end. This makes the building visually transparent along the longitudinal axis – from the centre of the building, one can look in all four directions through the windows. „The aim was to create transparency and lightness,“ concludes Tõra.

As suits the activity of Barrus, wood also features prominently in the interior design – glued laminated timber pillars, panelling of ribbon windows, wood composite ceilings with the underside of genuine wood exposed, utility lines installed in the central corridor behind a wooden suspended ceiling, wood mosaic walls behind the receptionist desk.

The planed facade cladding catches the eye
Wood also dominates the facade of the building – contrary to the tradition, it is clad with planed wood panels with a somewhat uneven surface. „Respect both to the client and to the builder who undertook to realise this solution and did it well,“ praises Tõra.

Barrus’ new office was completed on time, although the schedule was rather tight: the designing and construction of the building took about a year in total. Tõra says that he is really happy with the final outcome. So is the client, apparently.

Hard to find personnel outside the town

Andres Linnasaar, Member of the Management Board of AS Barrus, admits that the location 7 km from the town of Võru means that ensuring sufficient work force is an effort: „Hearing politicians talk about the need to create new jobs in the countryside on TV – it’s all good in theory but it requires a good infrastructure, and living in the country must be supported by access to services. As of now, there are jobs but no people in the countryside. It’s important to ensure the development of the region and contribute to it. It’s not about giving the entrepreneurs 2 million, for instance. If people think about moving here, they also consider the transport options and the distance from the nearest school for their children, both for basic and secondary education.“

The company does what it can. „We run 3 private buses daily for our employees. We pay for the children’s hobby groups, we pay wedding, childbirth and also compassionate benefits, we have joined Sport ID, we serve three meals daily to the staff,“ he lists.

Most of the products of Barrus are exported – 80% are exported directly and the purchasers of the remaining 20% also include exporters

A branch office was opened in Denmark last year for direct sales without intermediaries; about a third of the products are sold there.

The main market of Barrus includes the Nordic countries, the UK and also old Europe. „For instance, we sell more window components to Denmark and it’s a complicated market, as the product itself is complicated: we cannot sell just a wooden detail there because the quality is very important. In order to be able to compete, we have purchased an X-ray log sorter for monitoring wood density and heartwood proportion. The quality and delivery requirements are very high there,“ describes Linnasaar. „The markets in Norway and Sweden are also growing in some areas of our company – we are specialised in more complex products.“

Article adapted from the website of Ehitusest

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AS Barrus
+372 785 0700
Verijärve, Võru parish,
Võru County 65541

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