Baltic Sea

Sweden is home to one of the tallest wooden structures in the world


The Swedish city of Skellefte̴ on the Baltic Sea is home to a new center for the performing arts and a hotel made entirely of wood Рmore precisely made of cross-laminated timber and glued laminated timber. It was designed by White Arkitekter and features a 20-story hotel that rises out of the Sara Cultural Center below.

“The design pays homage to the rich wood tradition of the region, which we want to advance with the local wood industry. Together we can create a beautiful community center for everyone – a contemporary expression that ages with grace, â€says Oskar Norelius, the project’s lead architect.

Photo credit: White Arkitekter

The skyscraper in which the hotel is housed consists of prefabricated modules made of cross-laminated timber, which are stacked between two elevator cores also made of CLT. The 75-meter-high, 20-story hotel offers a breathtaking view of the city.

The lower part of the building provides space for the Västerbotten Regional Theater, the Anna Nordlander Museum, the Skellefteå art gallery and the city library. It consists of a wooden frame with supports and beams made of glued laminated timber with cores and wall panels made of cross-laminated timber. The construction contributes to the redistribution of the loads and increases the structural stability of the high-rise. The truss above the large foyer consists of a hybrid of GLT and steel, which enables a flexible, open space that can accommodate a range of activities and functions. The flexibility of use guarantees the long-term sustainability of the building by adapting it to future requirements.

Photo credit: White Arkitekter

The building is encased in glass that reflects the sky while revealing the spectacular exposed wooden frame ceiling inside. The wooden construction is designed to withstand SkellefteÃ¥’s harsh weather conditions while remaining energy efficient. The green roof contributes to thermal insulation, absorbs noise pollution, promotes biodiversity and delays rainwater runoff.

“We want people to see how much creativity is going on behind the scenes. From the street, passers-by can see how a new exhibition is being created or a stage is being created, â€says Robert Schmitz, who was also involved in the building as the lead architect.

No concrete = no emissions

We seldom think of cement as a contributor to global warming, but in fact it contributes almost 7% of all global emissions. For comparison: the emissions of all ships that sail the world’s oceans contribute less than half as much. Cement making is a really big source of carbon emissions, so making buildings out of wood rather than concrete is an important step to tame global warming.

Photo credit: White Arkitekter

Corresponding DesignBoom, the Sara Cultural Center is made entirely of wood from sustainable regional forestry and is processed in a sawmill just 50 kilometers away. The building absorbs more than double the CO2 emissions caused by operating energy and gray carbon from the manufacture of materials, transport and construction on site. With meticulous design and a pioneering energy system developed by Skellefteå Kraft and ABB, the building will be carbon negative within 50 years. It has a lifespan of 100 years and has a solar panel on the roof to provide renewable electricity to the structure.

Photo credit: White Arkitekter

Schmitz and Norelius tell DesignBoom, “Solid wood has proven to be one of the most sustainable building construction solutions known today. By realizing a full wood construction of a complex building with mixed use, mixed volumetry and a skyscraper of 20 floors, the Sara Cultural Center expands the application of wood as a construction material and proves that wood is a viable solution for practically every type of building. We hope that this project will help others in our joint transition to carbon neutrality. “

All photos courtesy of White architect.

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