Träbågen, Skellefteå Culture Center

Space Popular’s proposal for a new culture center in the Swedish  city of Skellefteå

 LocationSkellefteå, Sweden
 StatusCompleted. Unawarded
 SPOPeopleLara Lesmes, Fredrik Hellberg,  Jariyaporn Prachasartta, Prapasri Khunakridatikarn,  Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert, Kornkamon Kaewprasert, Thanaporn Lam
South Elevation
Space Popular’s proposal for a new culture center in the Swedish northern city of Skellefteå would be one of the largest public buildings in wood in the world. Housing a wide range of programs such as city library, art gallery, regional theater, conference center, spa, restaurants and hotel the multifunctional building would gather activities that are today taking place in different parts of the city. This centralization offers great opportunities but also great challenges as this single structure has to reflect both commercial and public interests. Space Popular’s polychromatic proposal would be the strongest architectural landmark of the north.   

Programmatic  distribution: Public programs on the lower floors, hotel and conference on the upper floors. 

Träbågen is divided into 14 floors of which 2  are underground. The lower floors houses The Västerbotten theater company and the two auditoriums with adjacent foyer spaces, which in turn connects the theater to the hotel lobby and library via escalators, stairs and elevator. The building consists of two separate buildings which are connected by wooden bridges from the second to the twelfth floor. The culture center remaining activities such as art gallery, and the city library can be found on the first to the third floor in the southern part of the building. Hotel, congress center, spa and restaurant are located on the northern side of the building and have direct access to all cultural activities. The restaurant offers panoramic views of the city and occupies all of the fourth floor. The building also offers three roof terraces with different qualities. The terrace facing west features an outdoor pool which connects directly to the spa. On the terrace facing south over 200 people can sit and have lunch in the sun or look down over the square south of the building. On the roof terrace at the top of the building visitors can look through the wooden arches and out of the city and beyond. 

Site plan showing vehicle arrival bay in the north west corner by "Trädgårdsgatan" and "Södrajärnvägsgatan", colorful steps leading up to the theater facing "Möjligheternas" Torg and the two distinct building volumes separated on the ground by "Torsgatan" but connected above with bridges.   - 1:400. Plan Oblique projection 

The building rises 63 meters above the city, far higher than any other structure in Skellefteå. The expressive facades with their strong colors and diverse form will be visible kilometers from the city center and have a great impact on the city's silhouette. This is an opportunity for the whole community which will be activated as the building's two towers creates a new spatial dimension that extends far from the relatively densely populated area around the culture center. All facades have their own character expressed in the external painted wooden structure which means that each neighborhood gets their own cultural center with its own special character. Staying for example south of the river in Sörböle residents can clearly see both towers with their dramatic crowns while areas west of the center get a completely different experience of the building with its stepped levels of wood arches and lively terraces. The strong contrast between the building and the cityscape is a strength that both the culture center and the city benefits from as the city receives a symbol and a landmark of culture and the building itself, the strong and stubborn identity it deserves.

View towards north west from the new public square on "Kanalgatan" 

Colour and Material
Polychromatic buildings and cities create pleasant environments. Träbågen gets its color spectrum from the northern sky that due to the low sun creates the most beautiful spectacles in blue to pink, to yellow, orange and red. The building's wooden structure is the stage for this spectacle, when the strong northern colors merge into each other from deep blue at the ground, to pink and orange to the crown transition in white and blue. 

Foyer lobby facade facing west. Glulam beams and ETFE film. 

A sustainable building is a building that lasts. A building lasts if it is appreciated and well-managed. A good example of such a building is Kiruna Church designed by architect Gustaf Wickman in 1912 which has repeatedly been voted by the Swedish people to be the most beloved building in the country. Moreover, the Church is built of wood, which was environmentally friendly also a hundred years ago. The new culture center in Skellefteå reflects not only our current times of environmental awareness but also nordic history where buildings are traditionally built in wood. Today, technology has evolved and we can build safer and stronger structures in wood even for buildings as large as the new culture center. 

View towards the north from a neighboring rooftop on a cold winter afternoon illustrating the colored facades relationship to the northern sky with its play of colors. 

View from the lower roof terrace above the library on a bright winter morning. Library and public elevator visible in the background.  

Space Popular’s proposal stood out as one of the only entries out of 55 that utilised color, diversity and ornamentation to create a meaningful landmark for Skellefteå Culture House. “White Arkitekter”, one of the largest architecture firms in the Europe won the competition, construction will begin in 2017.

View towards north east along "Kanalgatan" on a snowy winter evening. 

View from "Torsgatan" towards the steps leading to the main theater entrance facing south. 

Isometric view of the culture center on a winter evening. 

View from the hotel lobby towards the south where the grand staircase leads down to the main stages. The escalator leads to the public programs on the upper floor. 

View from the south on to the library and main entrance to the theater on a winter evening.  

Circulation diagram  
Glulam column typology illustrating sectional diversity and color treatment. 

Structural diagram

Site plan 1.1000 showing the new culture center and its proposed integration with new public spaces around the city.

View of the polychromatic timber roof shingles on the facade covering the conference center on the fourth floor. 

North - South Section

Floor Plan -02

Floor Plan -01

Floor Plan +01

Floor Plan -00 - Street Level

Floor Plan +02

Floor Plan +03

Floor Plan +04

Floor Plan +06
Floor Plan +07

Floor Plan +12
East- West Section