In addition to being made of sustainable material — supplied by locally managed forests and transformed by a nearby sawmill, the Cultural Center has multiple technologies that make it more efficient and that help fulfill its creators’ goal of become carbon neutral within 50 years.
a tower with 75 meters high It is not, from the outset, a construction that deserves special mention if one takes into account that the Empire State Building, in New York, whose construction began in 1930, measures five times more. However, the Sara Cultural Center, in Sweden, still manages to impose itself as a novelty in the sectors of architecture and construction. All because its main material is the wood, which makes it, with these measures, the second largest building in the world based on this material.
The concerns with the sustainability are undeniable, with those responsible for the projection pointing to the possibility of the building becoming carbon neutral in the next 50 years.
As a cultural center, the space also includes a gallery, a museum, a theater, a library, a hotel with a restaurant, a spa and a conference center. This panoply of uses forced architects to contemplate a solution set in order to answer questions such as spans, flexibility or acoustics — without ever neglecting the focus on wood — explains ArchDaily.
Simultaneously, the top floors of the twenty-story tower provide a sweeping view of the city of Skelefeå, located in the north of the country. In addition to being the main material of the structure, wood is also highlighted, as decorative element, inside the enclosure.
According to Swedish architecture firm White Arkitekter, the part of the structure corresponding to the hotel and built in height is composed of prefabricated 3D modules in cross laminated wood, stacked between two elevator cores entirely made in this procedure. The cultural center, in the lower part of the building, is built by columns and beams (also of laminated wood, this time glued together).
This way it was possible eliminate all need for concrete in the structure that supports the building, which resulted in the acceleration of the construction process, but also the drastic reduction in carbon footprint. The issue of sustainability was also present in the process of supplying the material, provided locally through sustainably managed forests and processed in a nearby sawmill.
Despite being a sustainable material, wood poses problems for the functioning of the building, requiring, for example, the placement of panels that protect the structure from the Sun — that in that region, during the summer, it could be 24 hours. At the same time, the building also has heat pumps that provide energy-efficient heating and cooling, along with 1,200 square meters of solar panels that reduce consumption in the electricity grid and an integrated system, based on artificial intelligence, which adjusts energy use according to occupation.
The website News Atlas, still raises questions about White Arkitekter’s plan to make the building carbon neutral after 50 years — while the building is expected to last a century.
“The building is carbon neutral during the construction process, because the wood sequesters more carbon during its useful life than the one that was issued. The 50-year time frame is conventional for a lifecycle analysis. In these 50 years, the trees that were planted when harvesting the wood for the cultural center will have grown and absorbed more than double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere than what was emitted to produce and assemble the building”, justified one of the company’s managers.
Through the decisions taken within the framework of this construction, the White Arkitekter atelier aims to expand the range of options and applications wood in terms of construction, especially high-rise buildings, while making progress in the field of sustainable construction.
In addition to all the ecological issues that aim at a commitment to sustainability, another concern of the municipality is that the space should be pleasant and receptive to all citizens, regardless of your experience with the culture. The building’s location, its transparent façade and the many entrances are representative of that same care, as they were selected over more austere options.
Skellefteå authorities intend to enrich the community at the same time they attract visitors, even international ones, who travel in order to get to know the building they intend to advertise as a reference in design and construction sustainable, but also as a space where all forms of culture coexist side by side.
With regard to rankings of the tallest wooden buildings in the world, it is not yet known for sure where the tower of the Centro Cultural Sara can be located. The first place is occupied, without any doubt, by the Mjøstårnet, Norway, with its 85.4 meters high, and the second by HoHo Wien, in Vienna, with 84 meters. However, the latter is often placed in the category of hybrid buildings for having, in its structure, materials other than wood.
This would place the Swedish building in the second place worldwide — despite the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) still haven’t spoken on the issue and made the official brand.