MALMÖ, SWEDEN The lift stopped on the 25th floor of Malmö Live and we stepped straight out over the Saturday buzz of a glittering Malmö. The striking outline of the Öresund Bridge could be glimpsed to the south.
Looking to the north along the coast, my eyes settled on Ribersborg Bathhouse with its long pier, like a beam of light out in the dark sea. The wooden bathhouse was completed in 1898. North of here is the Bo01 area of Västra Hamn. Malmö has changed a great deal since my first proper contact with the city in the late 1970s. The path from a former heavy industrial city with a lost identity to a beating heart in a dynamic region has required a clear vision and focused policy.
Construction has always been a key aspect of Malmö. I remember the colourful Nils Yngvesson, amongst other things mayor and active chairman of MKB Fastighets AB, who chaired the Building Costs Delegation at the end of the 1990s. Bo01 came as a timely follow-up to this, although rather than being a poster project for low building costs, it became more of a landmark for the new Malmö.
Bo01 was also a major proving ground for wood construction – new methods and designs were tested and wood moved into the field of high-rise building. These experiences were important for future development, and fifteen years later I was able to report that the results were standing up well. The hope is that our wood construction industry will contribute to the continued development of Malmö.
We are entering a new era for building in wood – wood construction 2.0. The technical frontier is literally reaching for the sky. Europe is at the forefront of technical know-how on building in wood, while the Nordic region leads the way on industrialised wood construction. Confirmation of this comes in the form of a delegation from China, the world’s biggest construction market, with representatives from the Ministry of Housing and Rural Development (MOHURD) and the Ministry of Public Security (MOPS), who are visiting us in June as part of their work to draw up a standard for high-rise wooden buildings.
The wood industry has high hopes for the future and stands ready to take on the challenges of urban planning in terms of height and breadth. The nominees for the Swedish Timber Prize 2016 are the clearest proof of this.