This Sustainable 20-Story Building Is One of the Few Made Almost Entirely Out of Wood

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A Swedish architecture firm has unveiled one of the world’s tallest buildings made almost entirely of wood. With its innovative use of traditional materials and sustainable features, the new Sara Cultural Center is a remarkable example of green architecture.

Skelleftea, a city in northern Sweden, below the Arctic Circle, was chosen as the location for this innovative project, not just because of its timber construction tradition, but also because it’s a fast-growing community.

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The architectural complex (named after a local 20th century author, Sara Lidman) is comprised of the actual center (which includes a theater, a museum, an art gallery and a library), plus a 20-story hotel.

Unlike other wooden buildings that actually include cement or other materials for their structure, Sara is made almost entirely out of wood. Except for a few concrete and steel additions in the basement and the foyer, Sara’s structure, walls, floors and roofs are all wood.

The specialists at White Arkitekter were able to achieve that by using pre-manufactured modules of cross-laminated timber (CLT), based on of the latest engineering technologies. The glass exterior reveals the impressive timber structure, for a spectacular visual effect.

Sara was also designed to be sustainable, starting with the construction process. All the wood came from the nearby coniferous forests and it was processed at a local mill, in order to minimize transportation. The 75-meter (246 feet) building was strategically built so that it protects against the wind and casts a shadow over the car park and railway tracks at the north. Its green roof was designed to provide thermal insulation, while also absorbing noise pollution.

Just as sustainable tiny homes made of natural materials are enjoying a growing popularity, it looks like the trend is slowly transitioning to larger architectural projects, as well. The Norwegian Mjostarnet was declared the tallest timber building in the world (85.4 meters/280 feet), and the recently-inaugurated Sara Cultural Center comes close. Perhaps, many more will follow.