A sustainable building with civic significance

Using materials and techniques to reduce emissions and environmental performance

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    View from plaza.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    The building is very energy efficient thanks to a compact form factor, high performance envelope, designed with virtually no cold bridges, a hybrid ventilation system, mobile sun screens, and an innovative energy system alternating between hydro- solar- and geothermal power depending on what is best for the city as a whole.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    Lead architects (l-r): Robert Schmitz and Oskar Norelius of White arkitekter, Stockholm, Sweden.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    All of the columns, beams, decks, and walls of the cultural center will be prefabricated in a local factory and assembled on site. The hotel rooms are even being prefabricated as complete 3D modules, including the bathroom and fittings & finishes.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    All you have to do is stack them on top of each other on the site. This method reduces the emissions and gray energy that would be generated by transporting them from far away, reduces construction time and cost, and creates work for local companies.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    Sara Culture Centre strives for carbon neutrality first and foremost by reducing emissions at all stages of the building’s lifespan.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    Stage one, multi-use auditorium. 12,000 seats.

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    Towering Virtuoso in Sweden

    The timber structure in the building comes from sustainable forests, located within a 130km radius from the building site.

The Sara Culture Centre in Skellefteå, currently one of the tallest wooden high-rises in the world, aims to be accessible and enhance the city’s attractiveness. The design by Oskar Norelius, Robert Schmitz, and their team from White Arkitekter won an international design competition in 2015 for a new cultural center in the heart of the city of Skellefteå in the north of Sweden.

Last updated: July 16, 2022 Skellefteå, Sweden

In the Sara Culture Centre, named after the Swedish writer Sara Lidman, all of the columns, beams, decks, and walls of the cultural center were prefabricated in a local factory and assembled on site. This method reduces the emissions and gray energy generated from transporting materials over longer distances, reduces construction time and cost, and creates work for local companies.

An insulated envelope

The hotel tower has a double-layer glazed façade through which the wooden structure remains visible. Between the inner layer of high-performance triple glazing and the outer layer of glazing is an adjustable sunscreen made of glue-laminated timber (GLT) louvers. The double-skin glazing encloses an insulating air space that envelops the entire high-rise. This enhances the thermal efficiency of the entire building – an advantage not to be underestimated, since Skellefteå is located close to the Arctic Circle and has correspondingly cold winters.

A20EUbrSW-gl-08.pngTo maximize overall energy efficiency a hybrid ventilation system was installed to provide controlled ventilation to the large foyers and theater stages. This significantly reduces the loads on the main HVAC system. The architects also implemented a smart grid equipped with an AI unit that, over time, learns to autonomously predict and control the building’s energy consumption according to projected use and occupancy.

The Sara Cultural Center is to become a meeting place for the people of Skellefteå, whether they are interested in culture, want to borrow a book, or just want to talk to each other in a warm, cozy environment.

Read the full interview:

“Informative architecture – Towering Virtuoso in Sweden” in Sixth Holcim Awards