With their proposal “Sida vid sida” (i.e. ”Side-by-side”), White Arkitekter won the competition to design Skellefteå’s cultural centre and hotel, which will be completed in 2019. Located just below the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, the city has a long tradition of timber architecture that inspired the winning proposal. Over 55 entries from ten countries were submitted. The cultural centre will be the home to “Västerbottensteatern” (the county theatre of Västerbotten), the Anna Nordlander Museum, Skellefteå’s art gallery (“Konsthall”), the City Library and a new hotel.
The venue has design elements which allow for a 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. “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”, says Robert Schmitz, Lead Architect at White.
Skellefteå is surrounded by dense forests and has an acclaimed timber-built architecture and the construction know-how, which ranges from age-old methods to the technology-intensive, innovative techniques of the future. “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 age with grace”, 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.
Structural framing is specified as massive wood, a material with a long life cycle that is to be sourced locally. For the timber construction detailing and specifications, White Arkitekter collaborates with the engineering company – specialised in structural design – Florian Kosche AS. The centre is designed to endure all weathers with an efficient energy consumption record. The building will have a green roof, contributing to thermal insulation, noise blocking, 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 be open with several entrances as a way to contribute to a dynamic city centre. The winning proposal foresees bicycle and pedestrian ways connecting different areas of Skellefteå to the new 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. Source by White Arkitekter.
- Location: Skellefteå, Sweden
- Architects: White Arkitekter
- Lead architects: Oskar Norelius, Robert Schmitz
- Partner: Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK)
- Project Team: Axel Bodros Wolgers, Karl Tyrväinen (landscape architect), Anders Johnson, Björn Vestlund, Sarah Dahman Meyersson (environmental specialist), Robert Niziolek (images), Katharina Björlin Wiklund (images)
- Structural engineers: Florian Kosche, Sandra Heese Elbe
- Façade materials: wood clad panels and louvres, structural glazing
- Structural materials: massive wood, steel trusses, concrete, prefabricated wood modules.
- Client: Skellefteå Municipality (competition organised in collaboration with the Swedish Association of Architects)
- Year: 2019
- Images: Courtesy of White Arkitekter