White Arkitekter to design Skellefteå’s cultural centre and hotel

White Arkitekter has won the competition to design Skellefteå’s cultural centre and hotel, which will be completed in 2019. Located just below the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, the city has a long tradition of timber architecture that inspired the winning proposal. 

“We’re very proud to have the opportunity to create a new home for the arts, stage performances and literature. It’s when these different expressions meet that the magic happens,” says Oskar Norelius, lead architect at White.

The cultural centre will be the home to “Västerbottensteatern” (the county theatre of Västerbotten), the Anna Nordlander Museum, Skellefteå’s art gallery (“Konsthall”), the City Library and a hotel. The venue is built to allow flexibility with the use of retractable walls for rooms to be expanded or divided functional – from an exhibition to a large congress.

“We want to attract visitors not only for the arts but also to witness the behind-the-scenes work. People passing will be able to see, from the streets, how a new exhibition is being built or how a stage set is coming along,” says Robert Schmitz, lead architect at White.

Skellefteå is surrounded by dense forests and has acclaimed wooden buildings and construction know-how, which ranges from age-old methods to the technology-intensive techniques of the future.

“A cultural centre in Skellefteå just has to be built using wood! We’re paying homage to the region’s rich tradition and we’re hoping to collaborate with the local timber industry. Together we will create a beautiful venue, open for everyone, which will both have a contemporary expression and age with grace”, says Oskar Norelius.

The glass façade will reflect the sky and, at the same time, reveal the spectacular wooden ceiling inside, which will accompany visitors throughout the venue. The largest part of the structure will be built in wood, a material with a long life cycle that is to be sourced locally. For the timber construction, White Arkitekter collaborates with the engineering company – specialised in structural design – Florian Kosche AS. The centre is designed to endure all weathers with an efficient energy consumption record. The building will have a green roof, contributing to thermal insulation, noise blocking, biodiversity and rain water absorption.

The venue will be the tallest wooden building in the Nordic countries, allowing for views from the hotel rooms which stretch for miles. With a stage located in the middle of the venue and with different functions visible from the outside, the centre will breathe new life into the city. The ground floor will be open with several entrances as a way to contribute to a dynamic city centre.

The winning proposal foresees bicycle and pedestrian ways connecting different areas of Skellefteå to the new travel centre. On the waters of the Skellefte River (which passes through the city), a stage is proposed as a satellite venue to the cultural centre.

Source: White Arkitekter