Next year Tokyo is hosting the Summer Olympics. Japan has a proud tradition of building in wood and is a key market for exports of Swedish wood products. Wood has many great properties that are much appreciated in Japan, but the main reason for building in wood here is a critical one: wood has the best properties for resisting earthquakes. In a country prone to earthquakes, the flexibility of the construction material is vital in allowing the buildings to sway instead of tumbling down. We will see whether the Japanese art of wood construction makes an appearance at the games next summer.
Talking of the Olympics and Asia, we are now also hearing that many of the new arenas being constructed for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be made of wood. Since 2015, climate and environmental issues have become increasingly important to the authorities in China. China is the world’s biggest construction market, and a rise in wood construction would bring major climate benefits. For many years now, Sweden and Europe have worked closely with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MOHURD), introducing building standards that facilitate industrial wood construction according to the European model. Of course, we would like to see faster progress in China’s transition to more use of wood in construction, but we want to establish something that will endure over the long term, which our Chinese partners appreciate. We consider the fact that we will get to see Olympic arenas, on a bigger scale but still similar to those in Lillehammer in 1994, as a huge and important step forward!
As you know, the Olympics are held every four years, just like another major event: the Swedish Wood Award gala! It will take place on 19 March next year, so put the date in your calendar. It is going to be the biggest Swedish Wood Award gala ever, held this time at Berns in Stockholm. I can promise many exciting talks and a packed programme, ending with the ceremony announcing the winner of the Swedish Wood Award 2020. In this issue of Trä magazine, we have the pleasure of presenting the nominees for the Swedish Wood Award 2020. The jury travelled around Sweden, looking at around 40 different wooden buildings. This has been whittled down to a shortlist of 12, which we can now present to the world. As you will see, the nominees offer huge variety, ranging from small teahouses to enormous barns. This reflects the breadth of opportunities that open up when you choose a flexible building material such as wood. Personally, I think the jury has done a fantastic job in choosing exciting wooden buildings, and I am sure there is a worthy winner on that shortlist. All will be revealed on 19 March. See you then!