Bilden visar utsikten över kyrkan från kvarteret Glittne i Umeå.

The Glittne Building in Umeå, designed by Danish architects BIG. Photo: Jason Strong

The benefits of aiming high

Wood is on point. It's also environmentally and financially sustainable. The culture house Sara in Skellefteå and the residential building Glitne in Umeå have shown us new ways of building in wood.

West Bothnian cities are growing like weeds. Literally. Many of the buildings rising to the skies are built in wood. When Kulturhuset Sara opens in Skellefteå this autumn, it won't only be known as the city's landmark. At eighty metres, it will be one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world. And in Umeå, the light wooden frame of the Glitne housing development winds bravely atop the city's central mall. Wood from the depths of our forests is forming the architecture of our future.

– For us at BIG, Glitne is the first project we've done like this with wood on top of the existing building. Densifying and designing something that is more multifunctional and urban like that feels very visionary and metropolitan, says David Zahle, managing partner of the project at the Danish architect firm BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group.

I find him on the Danish Faroe Islands for a phone chat. He is currently based in the barren and magnificent archipelago in the North Atlantic, where wood has come to play an increasingly prominent role in recent years.

– Some years ago, wood was one of many materials of choice. Today we ask, should we build in wood? If the answer is no, why not? As architects, we mustn't build for our time, what we do must be relevant for the future. So we must embrace more extreme solutions. If sustainability isn't at the heart of your project, you will regret it, says David Zahle and emphasises the importance of maintaining and utilising the resources that are available in existing buildings.

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