Pushing to new heights through pre-fabrication and public-private partnerships

Skellefteå’s new Kulturhus is demonstrating how a municipality’s vision can create an environment for private investment in building huge wooden buildings with shared public spaces.

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.  


  • innovation benifits icon: innovation benifits icon
  • innovation benifits title: SOCIAL & LOCAL
  • innovation benifits text: To build a huge structure right in the city centre with minimal disruption is a huge challenge, but prefabrication means that time on site is quiet and efficient, with the building expected to grow by three floors per week in the final stages!
  • partnership benifits icon: partnership benifits icon
  • partnership benifits title: ENVIRONMENT
  • partnership benifits text: The building has been certified “miljöbyggnad Silver”, and with no casting above the foundations, will be simple to decommission and reuse the building’s elements at the end of its life.
  • economic benifits Icon: economic benifits Icon
  • economic benifits title: ECONOMIC
  • economic benifits text: Kulturhus is a public-private partnership, and the municipality’s strategy has brought in private investment that takes into account the full lifecycle costs of buildings, not just capital expenditure.

The Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat is hosted by EIT Climate-KIC

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.