Skellefteå Culture Centre
Located just below the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, the city of Skellefteå has a long tradition of timber architecture that inspired our design for the creation of a new home for the arts, stage performances, and literature. Chosen over 55 entries from ten countries, our winning proposal “Sida vid sida” (i.e. ”Side-by-side”) is a wood framed high-rise with a completion date in 2019. “Västerbottensteatern” (the county theater of Västerbotten), the Anna Nordlander Museum, Skellefteå’s art gallery (“Konsthall”), the City Library and a new hotel comprise the program.
The region’s forest industry and construction know-how play an important role in the project, but the recent developments in engineered timber technology allow for the spectacular possibilities not previously available. Collaboration with the Norwegian structural engineers, Florian Kosche, led to the development of two different hybrid construction systems – one for the cultural center and one for its sister structure, the hotel.
Construction of the cultural center is composed of a stack of prefabricated timber modules reinforced by concrete slabs. A hybrid of glue-laminated timber and steel construction will allow for a flexible, open-plan space, able to host all of the different facilities. The venue has other design elements which continue the theme of the flexibility of use, such as retractable walls for rooms to be expanded or divided so as to better serve the function at hand – from an exhibition to a large congress. “A cultural center 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 age with grace”. – Oskar Norelius, Lead Architect at White.
The glass façade wrapping the building 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 center is designed to endure all weathers with an efficient energy consumption record and will have a green roof, contributing to thermal insulation, noise blocking, biodiversity, and rainwater absorption.
The hotel tower comprises a stack of prefabricated timber modules reinforced by concrete slabs, providing the building a high-rise status while the structural glazing provides the hotel rooms views that will stretch for miles. “We want to attract visitors not only for the arts but also to witness the behind-the-scenes work. People passing by will be able to see, from the streets, how a new exhibition is being built or how a stage set is coming along”. – Robert Schmitz, Lead Architect at White. With a stage located in the middle of the cultural center and with different functions visible from the outside, the center will breathe new life into the city. The ground floor will be open with several entrances as a way to contribute to a dynamic city center.