Every four years, the industry organisation Swedish Wood presents the Swedish Wood Award to a building representing good architecture in wood that reflects and develops our contemporary architecture. For the first time, the entire process from receiving 145 entries, via jury visits, to shortlisting will be broadcast on Swedish Wood’s YouTube channel, with the ultimate winner to be announced live on 21 March.

The wood for Sara Kulturhus, a striking new arts centre, comes from Holmen’s forests in Västerbotten. Holmen’s sawmill in Bygdsiljum produced the glulam and CLT, while Martinsons, part of Holmen, designed, delivered and assembled the building. Sara Kulturhus can thus truly boast locally produced raw materials in the wooden frame of this unique project, in which Martinsons and Holmen played key roles.

“It’s very gratifying and exciting to see Sara nominated for the Swedish Wood Award! I see the building every day when I go to work and feel incredibly proud to have been part of this fantastic project,” says Robert Andersson, project manager for Sara Kulturhus from 2018 to 2021 – and a third-generation Holmen employee.

As there was no other similar project to learn from, Robert’s team had to come up with its own solutions over the course of the project. In a normal building, it is often possible to repeat recurring solutions, but with the Sara Kulturhus there were many new challenges – such as the various performance venues, the unique hotel and the lift shafts – and so different solutions had to be used throughout.

“As an organisation, we have the expertise and experience to take on complex buildings, as demonstrated with the incredible success of Sara Kulturhus. Lots of wood, much of it kept exposed – in that sense it has been a dream project. Wood is not given such prominence in many buildings; I think that’s significant. Even the seven lift shafts are made of CLT,” relates Robert. “Production did a stellar job when we sometimes had to make late changes. Factory 4*, in particular, faced major challenges in producing large and complex components to high levels of precision and quality.”

A total of 10 600 cubic metres of cross-laminated timber was used. And the wood in the building stores 9 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which equates to the emissions of 13 000 people taking round-trip flights between Stockholm and New York. That’s not even counting the climate benefits of all the concrete replaced by wooden building components!

Here at Holmen and Martinsons, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for fantastic Sara!

Follow the series about the Swedish Wood Award (Träpriset – Swedish only) at svenskttra.se

* One of the factories at Holmen’s sawmill in Bygdsiljum