The Chinese students' visit to Sweden is the result of a collaboration between Swedish Wood and the Department of Architecture at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The collaboration came about in connection with a students' competition held by Swedish Wood. The brief was to design and build a product in Swedish spruce or pine that would be of benefit to people in their day-to-day lives. The winning students designed a kind of round seat that enables people to sit either facing inwards, chatting with each other, or looking outwards and interacting with their surroundings. "Let's Dating", as they called their design, won them the first prize, which was a trip to Sweden.
Activities during the students' stay in Sweden included visits to SCA's sawmill (in Tunadal, outside Sundsvall), Umeå School of Architecture, wood-processing company Martinsons (Bygdsiljum) and AIX Architects (Stockholm). The idea was for the students to gain a broad understanding of the whole wood-processing chain, from the forest nursery to load-bearing structural elements or interior furnishings.
The main building materials in China are concrete, steel and glass, but interest in wood is growing, particularly for furniture and products for interiors. Load-bearing structures and large buildings constructed of wood are still rare, however.
"Although only wood was used for construction in ancient China, in modern times we have used steel and concrete almost exclusively. So using wood this way is a completely new thing for us. Coming to Sweden, which is so far ahead in building in wood, has been incredibly instructive and inspiring," says Xu Yini, one of the students, who believes that the material has a future in China, too.
"Interest in being surrounded by natural materials has increased in China. Wood is warm, soft and beautiful compared with concrete and steel. There are many indications that building with wood will become more widespread, and it would be great to be involved in and contribute to this," says Xu Yini.
Swedish Wood has been working for almost ten years now to increase the use of wood in China, both through the European Wood trade association (for building with wood) and under its own name (for furniture and products for interiors). Wood is renewable and stores carbon dioxide, making it one of the most environmentally friendly materials. Söderlind is convinced that the students took valuable knowledge home with them.
"I believe this trip has increased the students' interest in working with wood. We really have demonstrated the breadth of wood's applications and advantages. I think we also managed to awaken an understanding of the value of wood's surface, of wood as so much more than just a supporting structure for other materials," says Jan Söderlind.
For further information:
Jan Söderlind, International Director
+46 (0)70-211 04 22
Charlotte Apelgren, Director Interior and Design
+46 (0)70-661 7881