White Arkitekter wins in Skellefteå

Nick Myall
Friday 10 Jun 2016

White Arkitekter are creating a new cultural centre in Skellefteå, Sweden with a timber framed high-rise

White Arkitekter has won an international design competition for Skellefteå’s cultural centre and hotel, which will be completed in 2019. Located just below the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, the city of Skellefteå has a long tradition of timber architecture which inspired the winning proposal ‘Sida vid sida’ (Side-by-side). The design was selected from over 55 entries from ten countries.

’Kulturhus i Skellefteå’ is planned to be a 19-storey structure reaching a height of 76m. It will house the ‘Västerbottensteatern’ (the county theatre of Västerbotten), the Anna Nordlander Museum, Skellefteå’s Konsthall (art gallery), the city library and a new 16-floor four-star hotel.

The 24,940 sq m BTA building will be timber framed with a glass envelope and has been designed to allow flexibility of use with retractable walls for rooms to be expanded or divided to serve a range of functions from a smaller exhibition to expansive conference facilities.

“We’re very proud to have the opportunity to create a new home for the visual arts, theatre and literature. It’s when these different disciplines meet that the magic happens”, says Oskar Norelius, Lead Architect, White Arkitekter.

“We want to engage the wider public, not only arts lovers and the building’s transparency offers passersby the opportunity to witness behind-the-scenes work, such as an exhibition or new stage set coming together”, says Robert Schmitz, Lead Architect at White.

Skellefteå is surrounded by dense forests and has an acclaimed timber-built architecture and White Arkitekter felt it was important to harness this local knowledge and technical expertise.

“A cultural centre in Skellefteå just has to be built with wood! We’re paying homage to the region’s rich tradition and we’re hoping to collaborate with the local timber industry. Together we will create a beautiful venue, open for everyone, which will both have a contemporary expression and timeless quality”, says Oskar Norelius.

The glass façade will reflect the sky and, at the same time reveal the interior’s spectacular exposed wood-framed ceiling, which is an important detail guiding visitors throughout the venue. The structural framing is a hybrid of glue-laminated timber strengthened with steel trusses, which is to be sourced locally. For the timber construction detailing and specifications, White Arkitekter will collaborate with structural engineering firm Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK). The centre is designed to endure all weathers with an efficient energy consumption record. The building will have a green roof, providing thermal insulation, sound insulation, biodiversity and rain water absorption.

The venue will be the tallest building using wood frame construction techniques in the Nordic countries, allowing for views from the hotel rooms which stretch for miles. With a stage located in the middle of the venue and with different functions visible from the outside, the centre will breathe new life into the city. The ground floor will have multiple entrances to create a dynamic lobby and contribute to life of the city centre.

The winning proposal foresees bicycle and pedestrian routes connecting different areas of Skellefteå to a new planned travel centre. On the waters of the Skellefte River (which passes through the city), a stage is proposed as a satellite venue to the cultural centre.

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This Competition was published by WAN Business Information team 12/11/2015. You can view the original brief here. To access our live database with latest global architectural competitions and project leads click here.  

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Nick Myall

News Editor

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