“We designed Sara to become a landmark in Skellefteå, marking the most central location of the city,” said White Arkitekter partner Robert Schmitz.
“The building is planned to add life to the city center, opening on all sides to show both public spaces but also the work behind the scenes.”
White Arkitekter has completed Sara Kulturhus Centre— a remarkable and beautifully detailed 20-story building in Skellefteå in Sweden that has become the world’s tallest timber high-rise structure.
The firm is dedicated to renewable material wood and ecologically and socially sustainable architecture.
The Sara Kulturhus – a new cultural center right in the core of the city combining theatre, museum, art gallery, public library, conference center, and the hotel is designed to reduce embodied as well as operational carbon emission.
The building is mainly made of wood grown in the regional boreal forests. Solar panels and efficient energy systems further contribute to minimizing the project’s climate footprint.
The Skellefteå is situated in the north of Sweden just below the Arctic Circle and has a long tradition of timber construction, which was the main source of inspiration for the competition proposal.
The architects did not only create a new living room for the city’s inhabitants, but also a showcase for sustainable design.
With an elevation of almost 80 meters, Sara Kulturhus houses six theatre stages, the city library, two art galleries, and a hotel with 205 rooms, a conference center, restaurants, a sky bar, and a spa.
The 20-story hotel offers dramatic views over Skellefteå.
Ensuring that Sara Kulturhus is an “arena” for all citizens regardless of their previous interest in culture, has been a central concern for the municipality, and a starting point for the design.
The location of the building and the transparent façade with many entrances work together to lower the threshold to enter the building and to replace the image of an austere cultural institution with an open and welcoming building.
Sara Kulturhus is aimed to enrich the community and become a new destination attracting visitors regionally, nationally, and internationally—a showcase for sustainable design and construction where all forms of culture live side-by-side.
With Sara Kulturhus White Arkitekter aims to expand the application possibilities of wood as a construction material for complex high-rise buildings and to make progress in the field of sustainable construction.
The diverse program has called for a range of innovative solutions in solid wood construction to handle spans, flexibility, acoustics, and overall statics.
The hotel for example is built from prefabricated solid cross-laminated timber (CLT) volume modules stacked between two CLT lift cores. In contrast, the low-rise building is constructed with columns and beams of glulam and cores and shear walls of CLT.
The architecturally integrated design allowed the load-bearing structure to be built entirely without concrete, speeding up construction time and drastically reducing the carbon footprint.
Project: Sara Kulturhus Center
Architects: White Arkitekter
Client: Sara Kulturhus Centre
Photographers: Åke Eson Lindman, Patrick Degerman, and Jonas Westling