Wood for half our buildings

Chronicle by Henrik Wibroe

VÄXJÖ, SWEDEN The region of Småland has a long tradition of building in wood. We’ve always done it. Since the early 1990s, Växjö has also been going a little higher and bigger in wood. It began with Kvarngården sheltered housing over three floors and continued with the five-storey Välludden, Sweden’s tallest wooden building at the time. These have been followed by the eight-storey Limnologen, challenging signature buildings in the university town and more recently large sports arenas in the Arenastaden development. The purpose behind building in wood is to use a locally grown product, to develop alternative construction systems, to exploit the feel of wood, but above all to minimise carbon emissions and secure the survival of future generations.

The overall target is for Växjö to be fossil fuel free by 2030. With this target, Växjö is demanding higher standards from what is produced.

As a property owner through its municipal enterprises, the municipality currently has a target of constructing half of its own new buildings in wood. Private property owners, building contractors, architects and planners are following suit and choosing wood. A strong partnership is one of the keys to success. Växjö Municipality collaborates with Södra and Linneaus University, for example. This generates new knowledge, new training, new research and exciting, attractive new buildings and urban districts. A number of areas have been created by embracing wooden construction. And several more areas will be singled out to perpetuate the trend. In Växjö, private property owners want to own wooden buildings, contractors want to build in wood and residents want to live in wooden buildings.

Växjö is helping to create good living environments for improved quality of life now and in the future. This requires a shared vision for the town’s expansion and densification, an urban network that can provide the conditions for good communications and innovative buildings with good design and function. To this end we’re seeing continuous urban development, not least in the all-wood Välle Broar project.

A good partnership with the private sector and active work by the municipal enterprises is vital in developing and encouraging building in wood. On a daily basis, as urban developers, we face new challenges that require us to adapt. Växjö Municipality invites dialogue as a way to inspire the whole construction sector to be visionary in its urban development and to increase building in wood through collaborations, networks and the citizen dialogue known as the Växjö Conversation.

Wood is about the scent, feel and look. Wood keeps the planet alive for generations to come.

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