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Sweden now has a wooden skyscraper

Sweden now has a wooden skyscraper

It is one the world’s tallest structures of this kind

Skelleftea is a community located in the far north of Sweden, only some 200 kilometres from the Arctic Circle. Home to 33,000 people it is a typical town for the area, that is until last month when the Sara Culture Centre opened its doors there. That centre is one of the world’s tallest timber buildings, standing 75 metres high and towering over the surrounding landscape, it could even be described as a small skyscraper.

Locally-sourced materials and carbon-neutral future

Given that Northern Sweden is home to vast forests and a booming timber industry it only makes sense to construct buildings out of this easily accessible, organic and cheap material. In fact, until only a recent past that was mostly the case in Scandinavia, and we are starting to notice a trend of returning to those architectural roots.

The Sara Cultural Centre, designed by white arkitekter, houses venues for the arts, performances and meetings, as well as a hotel.

It didn’t start as a 20-story house in Skelleftea, it started with a strategy which basically means that Skelleftea didn’t just want to survive but develop,” said Skelleftea head of urban planning Therese Kreisel, quoted by ArcticToday.

Kreisel said the building was constructed from 12,200 cubic meters of wood from trees harvested from within a 60-kilometre radius of the city.

The cultural centre, which takes up the lower four levels of the building, is built with columns and beams made of glued laminated timber and without the use of concrete. The cement industry currently accounts for about 7 percent of global CO2 emissions, per the International Energy Agency.

The building also houses six theatre stages, the city library, two art galleries, a conference centre, restaurants, and a hotel with 205 rooms that offer views of the surrounding city.

Apart from being one of the world’s tallest wooden buildings and a meeting place for the city’s residents, the building’s energy system tries to be as carbon neutral as possible.

The building is equipped with solar panels, batteries and a heat pump that works with electrical, water and district heating. Even the sprinkler system, which in most buildings is usually powered by diesel, is powered by renewable energy.

Excess energy from the building is passed on to other parts of the city or stored in the cultural centre’s on-site batteries.

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