Plan B architects' competition: The city above the city

Plan B competition

The city above the city

Young architects worldwide create solutions to urbanization in the “City Above the City” competition.

Metsä Wood’s competition inspired architects worldwide to design wooden extensions to city centers. Entries from 40 countries proposed wooden solutions to the challenges of urbanization. Winning designs were made to New York, Shanghai and Tampere, Finland.

Architects from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanization using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide, including Sidney, Shanghai, New York, Berlin, Paris and London. The competition was organized by Metsä Wood.

“Construction must become sustainable and cities must stay livable. I am happy that so many architects share this view, especially the younger generation”, says Michael Green, from MGA architects, Chairman of the Jury. “Entries were innovative and added value both to the building and the community ”.

“The designs were realistic and demonstrated a good understanding of LVL as a building material”, says Stefan Winter, Professor at the Chair of Timber Construction and Structural Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. “Because of lightness and fast construction time, Kerto LVL is an ideal material for this challenge”.

“Building wooden extensions to existing communities can be a significant solution to urbanization. Instead of demolishing communities, we could to enhance them”, says Mike Kane, Architect and Senior lecturer at London South Bank University. “This competition should be seen as a catalyst for the future debate on sustainable and progressive cities worldwide.”

Winners were awarded in two categories: Small and large scale intervention. The total sum of prices is 35 000 €.

We received over 170 entries and all the designs are now presented on our website. The entries are categorized the in different themes. You can for example take a look at the overwhelmingly futuristic designs or see how entrants have turned urban roof tops into green cities. You can also filter the entries based on the country.

Explore the awarded designs

All entries


About the competition


The City above the city competition

THE CITY ABOVE THE CITY challenged architects and students of architecture from around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants were asked to select a centrally-located building in one of the world’s most populated cities and develop an innovative wood design solution that adds density through additional floor area. Known buildings, especially buildings under threat of demolition  were encouraged as sites for revitalization, new development and innovation.

Cities are running out of space - Architects' competition 

Housing the world’s growing urban population is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity today. Currently, half of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050, 2/3 of the world’s population will live in urban areas.  Cities must develop strategically to meet these immense housing demands along with the associated infrastructure.  Too often the proposed solutions to this problem show little regard for the existing framework of our cities, choosing instead to replace the old with new, at great environmental, social, and cultural cost. The greatest design challenge then, is not only to build new structures, but to build upon the existing fabric of our cities, knitting together old and new. Today, engineered wood offers designers an incredible opportunity to meet this challenge. New wood products allow designers to build taller structures that are much lighter than alternative materials (steel and concrete) while still meeting strict criteria for fire resistance and/or seismic challenges. All this can be achieved using a natural, beautiful material – grown by the sun.

The properties of wood material are utilized best when building up. The tallest trees in the world grow to forty storeys tall. There is no reason why our building too, cannot reach even higher in wood. Utilizing the inherent strength of wood fiber there are countless new possibilities to explore.

Submission deadline:

30 September 2016,
5:00 PM CET

Winners announced:

October 2016

More information:


  • Plan B The city above the city - building wooden extentions
  • Plan B The city above the city - building wooden extentions for Berlin
  • Plan B The city above the city - building wooden extentions for Paris

The jury

City above the city architectural competition - jury 

Green, Kane & Winter

The jury members have been chosen because of their concern for the challenges and threats posed by growing urban populations - and a visionary understanding of how engineered wood can be used mitigate the negative effects of urbanization. The jury has extensive in-depth expertise in wood structure architecture and sustainable design.

The roofs of today are the plots of tomorrow

Building wooden extensions to urban areas

Building additional floors with wood

Article by Martin Langen, CEO of B+L Marktdaken GmbH, Bonn, Germany.

The demand for housing in urban areas continues to grow. Unused land along railway lines, similar to land previ-ously used for commercial and industrial purposes, is being developed as building plots in inner city areas. But the available land is limited. In order to provide housing space, densification in the form of filling vacant lots or the more efficient replacement of buildings is being promoted.

The city of Bonn, for example, shows a total ground area of residential buildings of 6.6 million m². Of this an (unbelievable) 27% could have an extension built according to the survey. This way, more than 20,000 apartments with an investment volume of more than EUR 4 billion could be created in the former capital.

Read the full article