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Swedish wood architecture and sustainability conversations at Archtober in New York

October 26, 2020 Visit Europe No Comments

Swedish Design Movement presents Woodlife Sweden: Challenges in Future Cities and Implementing the 2030 Agenda with wood- 2 roundtable discussions on the future of our cities and society.

Following three webinars on wood architecture in Sweden, two roundtable discussions are held during the architecture month Archtober in New York, aiming to boost international collaboration on urban challenges. The Global Sustainability Goals are core topics in city planning as well as within the wood industry. By 2030 we need to reach the 17 global goals of the 2010 Agenda, and the only way we can do it is by pushing innovation together.

Wood is the only renewable building material, and the wooden industry is therefore at the centre of sustainable development. But the industry cannot meet the challenges alone – only by close collaboration with architects, designers, engineers and academia, innovation can be pushed beyond current limitations and be directly implemented into building processes for more sustainable cities.

Woodlife Sweden: Meet the architects, a series of three seminars where Swedish architects presented three innovative wooden buildings in Sweden and visualized how working with wood reduced the climate impact of the buildings by up to 50 percent and the time of construction.

The Swedish forest is a local resource, and every tree that is cut is replaced by at least two new ones. The forest can generate material for many new buildings as well as other material for a sustainable city: fuel, heat, fabric and packaging to name a few.

Forests make up to 70% of Sweden’s area and forest products have long been one of Sweden’s largest export products, which is clearly visible in Swedish architects’ views on construction. Wood is a timeless and renewable raw material that meets the latest technology in Swedish wood architecture, and today reduces the construction time significantly. Wood’s lightness and strength also makes it possible to build vertically in existing city environments and to enlarge existing buildings by using timber-on-top infills or add-ons, or other innovative techniques.

Tall houses often become important symbolic buildings, but it is the number of wooden houses and buildings that makes the big difference in terms of lower environmental and climate impact.

Alliances on how to implement wood strategies and how to establish a sustainable forestry and wooden industry are also part of a global movement, where international collaboration is a crucial factor for success. The two roundtables aim inspire global and transdisciplinary collaborations.

The topic for the first conversation on October 27 initiated by White Arkitekter in Stockholm and Van Alen Institute in NYC, discusses how, in order to make cities resilient and truly sustainable, healthy and attractive – we need to address the climate agenda in parallel to a social robustness based on equity and healthy living environments. By looking at New York, Montreal, London, Stockholm, Nairobi and Kigali – the panel will share experiences and discuss how governance and the tradition of decision making in cities have effect on current planning when it comes to method and innovation.

  • We are looking forward to moderate this high -level conversation. The international network and dialogue are more important than ever to inspire and improve our common work, say Carl Bäckstrand and Monica von Schmalensee, architects at White and Co-Chairs, International Council Van Alen Institute.

The second conversation on October 29 will explore the need to scale up the implementation of sustainable construction and on the role of the architect in the design process, quickly adapting to new innovations and possibilities from the wood industry. The main question is: How can we secure quality on all levels – education, design, implementation and management of our built environment?

  • The wood construction industry is undergoing a vast development right now, with climate issues as its main driving force. Working with technological developments of wood has a great potential. Now, it is up to the industry to seize this opportunity and continue growing with quality. The only way to do this, is bringing together all parts of the building value chain to work together and ensure that quality and knowledge are taken care of and shared, says Susanne Rudenstam,Director Construction at Swedish Wood.


Participants and program of the roundtable discussions:

Challenges in Future Cities at Archtober, New York City, October 27, 2020.
8 – 9 AM, GMT – 4 or 14 – 15 CET
Please register 

The discussion is a joint initiative between White Arkitekter and Van Alen Institute in collaboration with the Consulate General in New York and the Swedish Institute in Stockholm.

Cities which are truly sustainable, resilient, healthy and attractive, address the climate agenda in parallel to a social robustness based on equity and well-being. Experiences in the light of the pandemic are discussed through the eyes of governance and leadership from six cities and three continents: London/Stockholm, NYC/Montreal, Nairobi/Kigali.

The discussion will elaborate on these strategies: Make cities greener; Embrace walkability and new mobility; Diversify city-centres and the suburbs.

Invited speakers:

Annika Rembe, General Consul NYC

Madeleine Sjöstedt, Director General, SI, Stockholm

Mitch Silver, Director Planning Office, NYC

Ben Prosky, Executive Director AIA NY

Peter Murrey, Chair NLA, London

Sylvain Ducas, fm Director of Urban Planning, Montreal

Joy Mboya, Founder, The GoDown Art Center, Nairobi

Kelly Doran, Director Mass Architects, Kigali

Moderated by Charlie Bäckstrand and Monica von Schmalensee, White Arkitekter

Implementing the 2030 Agenda at Archtober, New York City, October 29, 2020.

Time: 8 – 9 AM, GMT – 4 or 14 – 15 CET

A conversation about industrial wood-building and its implementation – from Sweden to the US and back. A talk focusing on the Global Agenda – and the need to scale up the implementation of sustainable construction and on the role of the architect in a design process, quickly adapting to new innovations and possibilities from the wood industry. How can we secure quality on all levels – education, design, implementation and management of our built environment?

Invited speakers:

Moderator: Mark Isitt, journalist, architecture critic, Sweden.

Part 1: “The need to act now”

Mita Sen, Programme Management Officer, Forest Affairs, UN Forum on Forests Secretariat | Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations, USA

Mia Crawford, Coordinator 2030 Agenda, Deputy Director Global Agenda, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Stockholm, Sweden

Part 2: “the process / the industry”
Jerker Lessing, Director Research and Development at BoKlok, Adjunct professor at Stanford University, Teaching and doing research about Industrialized Construction (Sweden/USA)
Ivan Rupnik, Founding Partner at MOD X, Ph.D. focused on Offsite Architecture from Harvard University. Assoc. Professor at Northeastern Univeristy Arch, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Part 3: “how to – from city-level to building-level”
Monica von Schmalensee, Architect and partner at White Arkitekter, Stockholm, President of the
Council of Sustainable Cities 2018-2020, Sweden.
Chester Weir, AIA LEED AP BD+C, Senior Mass Timber Architect, Design Division of Katerra, USA
Sandra Frank, Co-Founder and EVP Marketing & Global Movement på ARVET Trä, Sweden

***The Woodlife Sweden program during Archtober is organised by the Swedish Institute, Architects Sweden, and the Swedish Consulate General in New York in collaboration with Swedish Wood, Swedish Forest Industries, Arvet, White, Wingårdhs and Tengbom.

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