Skellefteå Kulturhus, Developed by: White Arkitekter & Skellefteå Municipality
Just below the Swedish Arctic sits Skellefteå, a town with big ambitions to become one of Sweden’s most sustainable and desirable towns to live in. The centrepiece of that strategy is the new Kulturhus, which broke ground in 2018, and is set to become one of the tallest wooden-framed building in the Nordics when it opens in 2021. Towering 19 storeys, Kulturhus will be a hub for residents to meet and enjoy music, art and theatre, with a conference centre and 208 room luxury hotel on top. Construction in cold climates brings unique challenges, but prefabrication of components, including modular hotel rooms can take place all year round, with easy assembly on site with no need for drilling or casting.
Wood is the natural choice in a municipality with 3 million hectares of spruce and pine forest, which refines over 350,000m3 of timber each year. In 2014, the municipality launched a timber construction strategy to ensure sustainability in Skellefteå’s new buildings and to develop this vital local economy and help make Skellefteå a centre of excellence for wooden construction. The architects are using the building as a test case for a zero carbon building over its lifetime, and the wood used will sequester five times more carbon than is produced for the concrete foundations. Exposed timber on the interior contributes to a healthy indoor climate and reduces decorating costs.