Wood builds bridges

Editorials by Mikael Eliasson

STOCKHOLM Early one Saturday morning in June, my jogging route took me from the centre of Skellefteå up the river, through the old ‘church town’, past the impressive church and over Lejonbron – a wooden bridge that has formed a key part of the infrastructure in the old heritage area since 1737.

The swift river surges timelessly around the solid foundations. The bridge’s red limewash marks it out as a proud and conscious design. It has helped make people’s lives easier for over 250 years! As I passed over the bridge with great reverence, my thoughts turned to the designers and builders who created the bridge without any of today’s measuring instruments or powerful machines.

Wooden bridges are once again making a name for themselves and in this edition of Trä! we’ll be looking at a few examples of modern, cutting-edge wooden bridge construction, including Sweden’s largest tied-arch road bridge in wood, Gislavedsbron.

And wood is able to do much more than bridge rivers. It has long been known to function well in areas susceptible to earthquakes. Japan has ancient techniques and extensive experience in constructing buildings that can withstand the terrible forces of an earthquake. Europe too can unfortunately be hit by earthquakes. From Italy, we have an example of cutting-edge construction adapted to these conditions.

We also have a description of the spectacular new lecture hall complex at Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, designed by architect Gert Wingårdh. The exciting facade of glass tiles draws the eye, while beyond the facade we find a glulam design that not only contributes to the overall look but also holds up the entire edifice.

If we want to create beautiful buildings with better functions and a lower environmental impact than traditional approaches, it’s important that we apply new thinking. We have a responsibility to bridge any obstacles to the use of different construction materials in freer combinations, in order to go further and contribute to a better climate – wood even bridges material boundaries.

Get news & inspiration from Swedish Wood

Sign up and get information about publications and other news from Swedish Wood by email.

Sign up for the newsletter