With its 20 floors and its rich content, Sara Kulturhus Skellefteå has put Skellefteå on the world map and has become an international guiding star for sustainable architecture. Now the climate-positive building*, designed by White Arkitekter, has a chance to win Sweden’s most prestigious architecture award, as the building is one of four nominees for the Kasper Salin Award 2021. The winner will be chosen at Architecture Gala on April 7.
The design of Sara Kulturhus is a tribute to the city’s rich wood traditions which are enhanced with the local woodworking. By combining local timber traditions with innovative technology and architecture, the city’s wooden heritage was brought into a new era while the project moved the limits of what could be built in wood. The project topped The Guardian’s list of Best Architectural Design 2021 for showing the way to a new future, and has also been named by the New European Bauhaus as a fine example of sustainable architecture.
Sarah Kulturhaus is the home of the people. It was designed to be a cultural center for the whole municipality – a public square where everyone should feel welcome. The building’s central location in the city, large and transparent glass facades and entrances in all directions create an open and inviting meeting place and bring the surrounding street space to life. Spaces usually hidden behind the scenes are open and visible from the street, so that the craftsmanship behind the creative process becomes visible. At the heart of Sarah Kulturhaus is a gigantic, unprogrammed foyer that calls for spontaneity, creativity and community to attract new target groups to the House of Culture.
* According to White’s definition, climate positivity means that emissions from materials and energy are lower than storing carbon in wood. See the appendix for more information.
motivate the jury
The new cultural house in the center of Skellefteå shows that it is possible to build in wood, tall and large. Materials and timber from the local area and well-established relationships with the research world paved the way for a broader application of wood construction.
In addition to pushing technology and system development forward, it is a cultural act of managing and refining the tradition of wooden construction. Architecture reflects an exploration of what matter can and is capable of. The frame, which combines two different building systems, contributes greatly to giving the house its expression. The lower volume houses the House of Culture and consists of a prefabricated timber frame with cross timber. Wood and steel trusses allow great freedom in floor plans and robust dimensions mean the wood meets fire protection requirements without the need for wear. The upper part of the hotel, built from prefabricated wooden units, is covered with a light glass membrane. It provides a pure design language that is easy to understand.
The complex and changing needs of a number of different activities were accommodated in a clear, vacant floor plan. The structure of flows and logistics in particular is compelling. There is room for many people and events, in spacious spaces where there is plenty of space and high ceilings. Sarah’s House of Culture has a caring environment for visitors and workers here, easy to gather when the cold makes staying outdoors difficult.
for more information:
Maria Gertel, Head of Public Relations, White Architects
+46 70588 65 00
White Arkitekter is one of the leading architectural firms in Scandinavia. We work with architecture, design and sustainable urban development in an international context for current and future generations. Our mission is, with the power of architecture, to drive the transition to sustainable living. Our vision is that by 2030, all of our projects will be robust and climate-neutral. We are a staff owned architectural group of approximately 700 employees with presence in Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany, Canada and East Africa.
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