2019 was characterised by an increased focus on climate change and the goals of Agenda 2030. In times of political instability in many parts of the world, business has an increasingly vital role to play in ensuring a sustainable development of society. White has the ability, and a responsibility, to create long-term sustainable values for our clients and for society as a whole. Our mission is presice – to enable sustainable life through the art of architecture.
Design is our means for creating sustainable solutions, and we will reach our vision by focusing on new ways of working with materials, energy, circular architecture and sustainable urban development.
We live in an age of major social change with crucial challenges for the environment, which affect ourselves and our business in many ways. During 2019 we were affected by a slowdown in the Swedish market. On the other hand, our studios in Oslo and London are growing, and we have received a number of new assignments in Canada, Germany and East Africa. Almost ten percent of our turnover in 2019 was generated in countries outside Sweden. It is also gratifying to be able to look back on so many rewarding completed projects, a number of which have been recognised with nominations and prestigious awards.
As a company we have an important role to play in inspiring our employees and the world around us to adopt a more sustainable way of life. It is gratifying that we have succeeded in reducing our carbon dioxide emissions by 34% compared to 2018. It is now at 916 tonnes, which corresponds to 1.35 tonnes CO2e / year workers. We are well ahead of our schedule regarding meeting the global climate goals by 2030. By introducing a “climate account” for our study tours we have succeeded in reducing our carbon emissions by 82 percent compared with the previous year. 95 percent of our domestic business trips are undertaken by train – our train journeys correspond to 65 laps around the Globe.
The greatest environmental impact from our business activities derives from our projects. The sustainability challenges are different from project to project, but we clearly see that interest in recycling and circular architecture is increasing, as is the construction of timber. The unique interior design at the Selma Lagerlöf Centre in Gothenburg consists of 92 percent recycled furniture, which has led to lower costs and reduced climate impact, as well as a nomination for the Architects Sweden’s “Golden Chair” award for ”ethical excellence”.
Timber Construction Comes of Age
In recent years White has focused heavily on building up competence in architecture that utilises timber as a structural element. Having previously been used on housing and smaller high-profile projects, there is now a shift in the trend, with timber construction techniques being further applied to offices and larger public buildings. Reduce climate impact and the attractiveness of wood are the primary drivers.
Magasin X in Uppsala will be Sweden’s largest wooden office building. The goal is to reach close to zero carbon impact, in terms of energy, materials and construction. The project is being developed for Vasakronan and the building will be completed in 2022. The 19 storey high Sara Culture Centre in Skellefteå, the new Head Quarter for NCC and the Observation Tower in Varberg are other exampels where timber is used, not only as building material but as a driving force for the design.
Other notable projects in 2019 were the award-winning Student House on Campus Valla in Linköping; new emergency care building at Danderyds Hospital; and a new treatment building at Huddinge Hospital, which has all been certified with swedish standard Miljöbyggnad Guld (Environmental Building Gold) and nominated for several awards for their design. We are often acknowledged for our long-term commitment to sustainability, last year that included the nomination for “Community Developer of the Year 2019, in the Sustainability category”.
White’s international presence was strengthened during 2019. London is our most rapidly growing office, Oslo is under constant development and we have an established network of clients and business partners in Germany, Canada and Kenya. This involves a balanced mix of mature and rapidly growing young markets. We see tremendous opportunities to create innovative architecture that contributes to a sustainable way of life.
In Nairobi, our project the Leadership Centre – one of Africa’s first Leed Gold certified projects – is soon ready for inauguration and in Vaudreuil Dorian, outside of Montreal, Canada, we have developed a sustainable proposal for a new library and city hall. In Reutlingen, south of Stuttgart, we will be developing an industrial site into a sustainable mixed-use district, containing homes, gastronomy, atelier and co-working spaces.
By working in countries with another context we can challenge our existing approaches and standards.
Sustainability is our main driver for creativity, innovation, inclusion and better architecture. Read more about our work with sustainable architecture here.
For us at White Arkitekter, architecture is about creating long-term value. We work proactively to ensure that our projects have the lowest environmental impact possible. Read about carbon neutral buildings here.