MASSIVE CLT, GLULAM TOWER THE ELEMENT
IN ARCHITECT STUDIO’S TRANSITION TO NET ZERO
A CULTURAL venue and hotel complex just completed in Sweden is among the tallest towers in the world rising 75 metres in the historic industrial city of Skellefteå.
An international showcase for sustainable design, the Sara Cultural Centre is a project by Swedish architecture studio White Arkitekter and features a structure made entirely of timber.
The building references the timber building heritage of the region with Skellefteå having a long tradition of wooden buildings as well as a flourishing timber industry.
“One of the biggest challenges was convincing people to build something that hadn’t been built before,” said White Arkitekter lead architects Robert Schmitz and Oskar Norelius.
“But with the will and ambition to break new ground in wood architecture and sustainable construction, we have now realised the project with a full timber structure,” they said.
Featuring different volumes to suit the building’s different purposes, the cultural centre has been designed with flexibility in mind so that the premises can be easily adapted for future needs.
The mixed-use program called for a range of innovative solutions in mass timber construction. In collaboration with structural engineering company Florian Kosche, two different construction systems were developed for the project – one for the cultural centre and another for the hotel.
While the 20-storey hotel is made from prefabricated 3D-modules in cross-laminated timber stacked between two CLT elevator cores, the lower rise cultural centre consists of a timber frame with glulam columns and beams along with cores and shear walls in CLT.
The characteristic trusses above the grand foyers are a glulam and steel hybrid that enables a flexible, open-plan space to adapt to different uses over time.
A glass façade wrapping the building reveals the spectacular exposed timber-framed ceiling, which is a recurring motif throughout the venue.
The project represents an important milestone for White Arkitekter which envisions all of its architecture will be carbon neutral or better by 2030 and timber construction is an important element in the studio’s transition to net zero.
The timber structure sequesters more than twice the carbon emissions caused by operational energy and embodied carbon from the production of materials, transportation, and construction at site. Combined with a ground-breaking energy system, the timber design reduces the energy use of the building.
Solar panels on the roof produce renewable energy that, together with the timber structure, more than compensate for the carbon emissions caused by construction. All the wood is sourced locally from the region’s coniferous forests.