CTBUH Steel-Timber Research Project: Trip Report, Sweden & Finland May 2023

Skelleftea,  Stockholm, Joensuu

Dan Safarik, Director of Research and Though Leadership, gave a keynote presentation on 16 May for the Drivers for Wood Construction 2023 Conference in Joensuu, Finland


From 9-16 May 2023, members of the team executing the Future Potential of Steel-Timber Hybrid Buildings research project traveled to Sweden and Finland to engage directly with stakeholders of key steel-timber hybrid high-rise projects, and to promote the research at a prominent timber industry conference.

Daniel Safarik, Director of Research and Thought Leadership, and Will Miranda, Senior Research Manager, conducted site visits at Sara Kulturhus, Skelleftea, Sweden; Strandparken, Stockholm; and Lighthouse Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland. Additionally, the researchers engaged with key stakeholders in all three projects. Safarik also delivered the keynote presentation at the Drivers for Wood Construction 2023 Conference at Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Joensuu on 16 May.

The presentation, entitled “The State of Tall Timber in 2023, and its Future Potential” reported on the findings to date of the Steel-Timber research, as well as the recently completed Future Timber City: An Awareness and Educational Program for Future, Sustainable, Dense Cities program. Topics included a global audit of the composition of mass timber high-rises by geography, function and structural type, as well as life-cycle cost and carbon analyses of several representative structural schemes and floor assembly designs.


An overview of the travel itinerary


9 May, Skelleftea, Sweden

Safarik and Miranda met with Goran Berggren, Wood Technology Researcher at RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) and sought key points of alignment between RISE and CTBUH


10 May, Skelleftea, Sweden

Sara Kulturhus, Skelleftea


Over the course of the day, Safarik and Miranda had a series of meetings to further the research on the future potential of steel-timber hybrid buildings. Key meetings with departments and individuals included:

- Therese Kreisel, Operation Manager, Planning Department, Skelleftea Municipality

- Robert Andersson, Production Manager, Martinssons

- Patrik Sandberg, Technical Manager / Business and Property Development, Skelleftea Kraft


Through these meetings the stakeholders outlined the process for the motivation, competition, architect selection and development of the Sara Kulturhus, part of the city’s plan to build its brand and to develop the center city as a cultural magnet for the region. They also provided background context about the timber-driven economy of Skelleftea. A tour of Sara Kulturhus followed, including the main auditorium, double-skin façade, back-of-house, and public areas.


11 May, Stockholm, Sweden

Visiting the site of Cederhusen, Stockholm, which is currently under construction. 


In Stockholm, the research team was in Stockholm and met with various individuals and groups to further their investigative findings. The key meetings included:

- Robert Schmitz, Partner and Oskar Norelius, Partner, of White Arkitekter

- Sandra Frank, Arvet, Strandparken

- Anna Ervast Oberg, Project Development Manager, Folkhem. 

- Chirstina Brandin Englund, Project Manager, Swedish Wood


The research team first met with the two partners of White Arkitekter. The architects outlined for them the decision-making process that resulted in the steel-timber hybrid configuration that supports the long spans over public areas in the Sara Kulturhus project. These carry the loads from the modular timber high-rise hotel portion the building to the ground. It furthered the knowledge of understanding that the team had of the project and was a valuable discussion. 


Afterwards, Safarik and Miranda met with Sandra Frank, Arvet, which operates Strandparken, an eight-floor, 27-meter steel-timber hybrid residential building in the Sundbyberg district of Stockholm.  Then the researchers met with Anna Ervast Oberg, project development manager, Folkhem, a development company responsible for Cederhusen, a 13-story mass timber residential development under construction over a highway and railway tunnel in a densely populated neighborhood. Oberg and her colleagues detailed the development and construction process, and led the CTBUH research team through the live construction site on a hard-hat tour. Also on the tour was Christina Brandin Englund, project manager at Swedish Wood, the trade group representing the Swedish timber industry who gave insights into the organization and overall market.


15 May, Joensuu, Finland

To a large audience from mainly Scandinavian countries, Safarik gave the keynote presentation at the Drivers for Wood Construction Conference, Karelia University of Applied Sciences.  In addition to Safarik delivering this talk, the him and Miranda attended presentations by numerous government, private, and academic practitioners involved in advancing the use of timber and maximizing the sustainability of managed forests in Europe throughout that day. After the conference, they both attended a dinner at the Joensuu City Hall, designed by Eliel Saarinen.


16 May, Joensuu, Finland

Lighthouse Joensuu, Joensuu


As part of the conference, the researchers also visited Lighthouse Joensuu, a 14-story, 48-meter student dormitory serving Karelia University. There, they gained firsthand knowledge of the steel tie rod system that secures the building to the ground, which allows for greater use of mass timber in the structure, including the elevator core and load-bearing walls, as well as floor plates. This tour also visited the Joensuu Kaupahalli, a glued laminated timber (GLT) and steel hybrid market hall currently under construction in the city center.