Currently, one of the world’s tallest timber structures
The award-winning Sara Cultural Center by White Arkitekter stands 75 meters [247 feet] tall in Skellefteå, Sweden and its visitors enjoy spectacular views of the Arctic Circle. The center covers a total site area of 30.000 sq. m and houses The Wood Hotel with a restaurant, spa and conference center as well as the Skellefteå Art Gallery, Museum Anna Nordlander, Västerbotten Regional Theatre, and City Library.
The low-rise cultural center is built with columns and beams of Glued Laminated Timber (GLT) and cores and shear walls in Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). The twenty-story hotel is built with prefabricated 3D-modules in CLT, stacked between two elevator cores entirely made of CLT. Integrated structural design removed the requirement for load-bearing concrete. This not only sped up the construction time, but reduced the building’s carbon footprint.
White Arkitekter designed this archetypal building using locally sourced timber as a sustainable structural material. The wood was processed in a sawmill roughly 50 km [31 mi.] from the site. Sara Cultural Centre’s timber structure appropriates more than twice the carbon emissions caused by operational energy and embodied carbon from the production of materials, transportation, and construction on site. The energy system developed by Skellefteå Kraft and ABB in combination with the building’s careful design, reduces its energy use. Additionally, solar panels on the roof produce renewable energy that, along with the timber structure, compensate for the CO2-emissions produced by the building. The building was designed to have a lifespan of at least on hundred years and will be carbon negative within fifty years.
The Sara Cultural Center’s brief required attention to acoustics, large spans and flexibility with the goal of serving Skellefteå as a new cultural hub. The design welcomes national and international visitors with entrances on all sides and with the building’s transparent facades. The architects were sensitive to the human scale at the street level utilizing timber volumes of appropriate sizes. Foyers were planned on the interior to be used as exhibition and event spaces while enticing spectators. Open plans and lavish glazing provide views of the many activities and functions of the center. The Sara Cultural Center is truly a dynamic destination place.
Oskar Norelius, Lead Architect, White Arkitekter
“One of the biggest challenges of the project was convincing people to build something that hadn't been built before. But with the will and ambition to break new ground in wood architecture and sustainable construction. What we see now is the result of a great collaboration both with the municipality, partners, and our interdisciplinary team at White, where we all have worked diligently towards the same goal.”
Project: Sara Cultural Centre (Sara Kulturhus in Swedish)
Use: Cultural center, hotel with restaurant, bar, spa, and conference center
Location: Skellefteå, Sweden
Client: Skellefteå Municipality
Contractor: HENT AS
Architect: White Arkitekter
Structural engineer: Dipl.-Ing.Florian Kosche, TK Botnia, WSP
M&E engineer: Incoord
Lighting engineer: White Arkitekter
Sawmill/ CLT/ GLT: Martinsons Trä AB
Module manufacture: Derome
Total cost: 105,000,000 EUR (approx.)
Site area: 30,000 sqm [322,917 sq. ft.]
Gross floor area: 28,000 sqm [301,389 sq. ft.] (17,000 sqm cultural center, 11,000 sqm hotel) [182,986 sq. ft. cultural center, 118,403 sq. ft. hotel]
Height: 75 meters [247 feet], 20-storeys above ground
Project start: 2016, design competition won
Completion: Autumn 2021
Photography: Åke Eson Lindman and Patrick Degerman courtesy of White Arkitekter