»Important to encourage an interest in architecture.«

Trä meets Jury

The Swedish Wood Award is presented every four years and has been in existence for over 50 years. Swedish Wood is the body behind the award, but it is down to the jury to unanimously nominate entries and choose the winner. Trä met the newly appointed jury for the Swedish Wood Award 2020 to hear what they think about an architectural competition that focuses on a single material, and what they bring to the work of the jury.

What role does an architectural prize have in society?

Petra I think it’s important to have shared references as a basis for discussion. The fact that we visit the objects and create a discussion that can then continue makes the award incredibly significant. The Swedish Wood Award is also important because it highlights architecture from across Sweden and takes account of social and human aspects. I feel it’s incredibly important to see architecture as part of an exploratory, creative language.

Tomas An architectural award can help to improve knowledge of and increase interest in what architecture actually is. Not just the need to build, but how we build, what we build, how we design the environments that we spend time in and how it affects us. It’s about how architecture can create an experience – there’s so much more to it than veneer and surface.

Natasha The most important thing is to encourage an interest in architecture among the general public, to show examples of good architecture and what is being built today. It’s like a kind of education. It’s important that the award is aimed at everyone, not just the industry insiders. Saying: “Architecture is here and it’s essential for our society.” It is, of course, also important for the industry to discuss what is meant by contemporary architecture, what it’s all about and what is being built.”

You have been hand-picked for the jury. What will you be bringing to the task?

Carmen I’ll be bringing my views on architecture and my experience of previous jury work. Each round of the competition provides a snapshot of where we are at that point in time, and it’s going to be exciting to be involved once more and see what has happened with contemporary wooden architecture over the past four years.

Stefan I’ve viewed a lot of architecture, particularly in Austria and Switzerland, that takes an extremely innovative approach to wood, and it will be exciting to see great new projects in Sweden. We haven’t developed the material quite so much in Sweden – we see it more as a raw material. It’s going to be exciting to see how things pan out.

Petra Architecture’s expressiveness and its artistic language. It’s the language I want to get at, finding a different mode of expression. The sense of space is fundamental, and it’s that aspect that I’m interested in.

Tomas I’m an engineer and I have a passion for wood. I’ve been involved in the development of wood since the early 1990s and naturally have gained a good bank of more engineering-related knowledge, such as working with the material in tall buildings. I’d like to see wooden architecture and engineering become more integrated. It’s not about replacing one structural material with another, but about how architecture and technology can and should work together. My contribution will be to judge solutions from a different perspective, considering how design and technology can and should go hand in hand.

Natasha I’ve worked primarily on houses and holiday homes for over 20 years. I have knowledge and insight not only from the architect’s perspective, but also from that of the client and the builder. We work extremely closely with them and I gain a great deal from constantly working on the whole process. If I see a house and know what its budget was, I have a good capacity to judge what the client got for their money. I’ve lived with the Swedish Wood Award practically since my career began, when Håkan Widjedal and I won the Swedish Wood Award 2000 with our exam piece from KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

What does it mean to have an architectural award with a material focus?

Carmen It’s wonderful to be looking at wood and architecture based on materiality and character. Wood has accompanied humanity throughout its development and been a feature of the built environment. It’s an exciting time, as wood is being seen as part of the solution to climate change. Some of the structures being built are larger than ever before. These structures have been the preserve of other materials for centuries, so we’re moving into new territory now. We have a fantastic opportunity to develop entirely new designs in wood as technical advances continue to be made. There is also an incredibly valuable tradition of building in wood in Sweden, providing a repository of culture and knowledge. I feel there is much to be gained from the interaction between traditional craftsmanship and engineering in industrial construction.

Stefan Wood is an age-old material and architectural qualities can be accentuated by using a material that is familiar and by creating a design using local materials. Many claims are being put forward regarding the material’s sustainability, and one factor for me is transport. Harvesting the material on the site where the building stands creates an extra dimension.

About the jury members (left to right)

Carmen Izquierdo, arquitecto COAM, architect SAR-MSA. Carmen loves visionary architecture that brings poetry to everyday life. She believes in architecture that combines art and technology.

Stefan Nyberg is an architect with longstanding ties to KTH and the architecture course there. Stefan has organised many architectural trips to Austria and Switzerland and has a sound bank of reference projects to draw on. 

Petra Gipp is an architect and artist who trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Petra has a strong artistic focus and has exhibited at prestigious galleries such as Liljevalchs.

Tomas Alsmarker holds a degree in civil engineering and a licentiate degree in technology. He is passionate about the art of uniting function, budget, beauty and technology. Tomas was recently made Design Manager at BoKlok.

Natasha Racki is an architect with a keen interest in attention to detail and craftsmanship in wooden architecture. In 2000, Arkitektstudio Widjedal Racki won the Swedish Wood Award with a holiday home in the Trosa archipelago.

Personalities that trä has met

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