White Arkitekter wins cultural centre in Skellefteå with timber framed high-rise

White Arkitekter has won an international design competition for Skellefteå’s cultural centre and hotel, which will be completed in 2019. Located just below the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, the city of Skellefteå has a long tradition of timber architecture which inspired the winning proposal ‘Sida vid sida’ (Side-by-side). The design was selected from over 55 entries from ten countries.

Skellefteå Kulturhus

’Kulturhus i Skellefteå’ is planned to be a 19-storey structure reaching a height of 76 metres. It will house the ‘Västerbottensteatern’ (the county theatre of Västerbotten), the Anna Nordlander Museum, Skellefteå’s Konsthall (art gallery), the city library and a new 16-floor four-star hotel.

The 24,940 sqm BTA building will be timber framed with a glass envelope and has been designed to allow flexibility of use with retractable walls for rooms to be expanded or divided to serve a range of functions from a smaller exhibition to expansive conference facilities.

“We’re very proud to have the opportunity to create a new home for the visual arts, theatre and literature. It’s when these different disciplines meet that the magic happens”, says Oskar Norelius, Lead Architect, White Arkitekter.

“We want to engage the wider public, not only arts lovers and the building’s transparency offers passersby the opportunity to witness behind-the-scenes work, such as an exhibition or new stage set coming together”, says Robert Schmitz, Lead Architect at White.

Skellefteå is surrounded by dense forests and has an acclaimed timber-built architecture and White Arkitekter felt it was important to harness this local knowledge and technical expertise.

“A cultural centre in Skellefteå just has to be built with 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 timeless quality”, says Oskar Norelius.

The glass façade will reflect the sky and, at the same time reveal the interior’s spectacular exposed wood-framed ceiling, which is an important detail guiding visitors throughout the venue. The structural framing is a hybrid of glue-laminated timber strengthened with steel trusses, which is to be sourced locally. For the timber construction detailing and specifications, White Arkitekter will collaborate with structural engineering firm Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK). The centre is designed to endure all weathers with an efficient energy consumption record. The building will have a green roof, providing thermal insulation, sound insulation, biodiversity and rain water absorption.

The venue will be the tallest building using wood frame construction techniques 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 have multiple entrances to create a dynamic lobby and contribute to life of the city centre.

The winning proposal foresees bicycle and pedestrian routes connecting different areas of Skellefteå to a new planned 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.


For further information:



Client: Skellefteå Municipality (competition organised in collaboration with the Swedish Association of Architects)

Partner: Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK)

Schedule: estimated completion 2019

City: Skellefteå, Sweden

Images: White Arkitekter

Lead architects: Oskar Norelius, Robert Schmitz

Team: Axel Bodros Wolgers, Karl Tyrväinen (landscape architect), Anders Johnson, Björn Vestlund, Sarah Dahman Meyersson (environmental specialist), Robert Niziolek (images), Katharina Björlin Wiklund (images)

Structural engineers: Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK)

Structural materials: massive wood, steel trusses, concrete, prefabricated wood modules.

Façade materials: wood clad panels and louvres, structural glazing



White Arkitekter

White Arkitekter was founded by Sidney White in 1951 and is Scandinavia’s leading architectural firm with about 900 employees working in 16 offices in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK. Our work is research focused and our expertise encompasses architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and interior design.

For nearly two decades, White has invested in establishing a unique research-based department of highly qualified experts in the field of sustainable design. Our founder’s aim was to improve society through architecture and his legacy lives on in our ambition to contribute towards the building of a sustainable world.




Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK)

Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS (DIFK) is an engineering company specializing in construction development and dimensioning. The company was founded in 2007, and our staff consists of highly skilled engineers with many years of combined experience. DIFK is member of RIF the Association of Consulting Engineers in Norway since 2009. In close collaboration with architects we develop structural concepts, and follow our projects closely through all stages. Through a creative design approach we aspire to create exciting architecture and stunning engineering structures. We believe that in order to create spectacular projects, close interdiciplinary collaboration is essential.




Press contact:

Sergio Guimaraes, es.et1508345297ihw@s1508345297earam1508345297iug.o1508345297igres1508345297, +46 (0)72 173 3109



Oskar Norelius, es.et1508345297ihw@s1508345297uiler1508345297on.ra1508345297kso1508345297, +46 (0)72 158 3019

Robert Schmitz, es.et1508345297ihw@z1508345297timhc1508345297s.tre1508345297bor1508345297, +46 (0)70 374 2652