Skellefteå Cultural Centre

Skellefteå Cultural Centre is a new home for arts, performance and literature in the Nordic region’s tallest timber building to date. Combining the region’s timber heritage with the latest advancements in engineered timber technologies, the new centre is model for sustainable design and construction that celebrates the spectacle of cultural production in all its forms.

A new home for culture

Located just below the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, Skellefteå has a long tradition of timber building; this was the primary inspiration behind the international competition winning design for the city’s new cultural centre.


The proposal was named Sida vid sida – Side-by-side; a timber-frame tower complex that placed art, performance and literary organisations alongside each other in a spectacular setting. Skellefteå Cultural Centre will be a new home for the Västerbotten Regional Theatre, Anna Nordlander Museum, Skellefteå Art Gallery, as well as the City Library. The complex will also contain a new hotel to accommodate the growing numbers of tourists to the city, as well as to provide a source of revenue for the local authority.

A model for sustainable design and construction where all forms of culture live side-by-side.

Client:  Skellefteå Municipality
Location: Skellefteå, Sweden
Status: Completion expected 2020
Area: Approx. 12,000 sqm
Visuals: White View, Luxigon

The design is an homage to the region’s rich timber tradition that we hope to take forward with the local timber industry. Together, we can create a beautiful civic centre for all; a contemporary expression that ages with grace.
Oskar Norelius, Project Architect

Timber innovation

The regional forest industry and construction knowledge play an important role in the project and is complemented by recent developments in engineered timber (CLT) technology. The advancement of research in engineered timber has unleashed a world of previously unimagined design possibilities. Collaborating with structural engineers Florian Kosche, two different hybrid construction systems have been developed; one for the cultural centre and one for its sibling structure, the hotel.

Skellefteå Cultural Centre is composed of a stack of prefabricated timber modules, reinforced by concrete slabs. A hybrid of glue-laminated timber and steel construction enable a flexible, open-plan space that can host a range of activities and functions within. Flexibility of use guarantees the building’s long-term sustainability by allowing it to adapt to future demands. Other solutions, such as retractable walls to open up or divide a space depending on a specific event or exhibition need, add to this core adaptability.

The hotel occupies the sixteen-storey tower and is constructed in a similar concrete-reinforced, modular timber stack. However, structural glazing allows for greater height, as well as offering dramatic views that stretch for miles over the city.

We want people to witness the amount of creativity that occurs behind-the-scenes. From the street, people passing by will be able to see how a new exhibition is being built, or how a stage set is coming along.
Robert Schmitz, Lead Architect, White

The glass façade wrapping the building reflects the sky while revealing the spectacular exposed timber-framed ceiling inside. This ceiling is a recurring motif that guides visitors through the venue. The wood construction is designed to endure Skellefteå’s harsh weather conditions, while also remaining energy efficient. The green roof contributes to thermal insulation, as well as absorbing noise pollution, enhancing biodiversity and delaying rain water run-off.

White Wood

As architects, we have a responsibility to take action against climate change. White Arkitekter has set an ambitious target to design 30 projects with a zero-carbon footprint by 2019. To that end, the practice has strengthened research and design skills that focus on timber technologies. As wood is a renewable resource; it is a construction material that embodies a low environmental impact. In addition, its aesthetic qualities contribute to a healthy, high quality environment for all; from workers on site, to end users.

A celebration of making

Skellefteå Cultural Centre uniquely celebrates the craft behind the creative process. Open layouts combined with generous glazing reveal the ingenuity and skill involved in set-building and exhibition installation to visitors inside the building, as well as passers-by outdoors. At the heart of the centre lies a stage, its productions visible to the outside world. Similarly, exhibitions can be programmed at the entrances, inviting non-traditional gallery goers into the centre.

Contact & Team

Robert Schmitz

Robert Schmitz



[email protected]

+46 703 74 26 52

Oskar Norelius
Björn Norén
Ulrika Wallin
Pontus Stigeborn
Marianne Rutberg
Maria Orvesten
Patrik Buchinger
Marte Noedtvedt Skjaeggestad
Jens Hansson
Andreas Ivarsson
Pernilla Svedberg
Johan Björkholm
Sam Keshavarz
Sarah Dahman Meyersson
Anton Magnusson
Christoffer Sundberg
Elin Rooth
Gustav Söderberg Röstlund
Fredrik Källström
Jesper Källgren
Gunnar Hidemark
Lisa Lee Källman
Clara Fraenkel
Amanda Ersson
Erik Falkenström
Mehdi Bahrami
Katharina Björlin Wiklund
Robert Niziolek
Mats Selin