Tor 29 feb / År 42 / Nr 5 2023

Växjö supports nationwide shared vision of the sustainable city

Växjö is a mid-size municipality in southern Sweden and a substantial part of the Kronoberg region, known as one of the driving forces of the countrywide project Trästad 2012. Växjö has a long history in sustainable wood construction. Trästad 2012 was and still is an opportunity for the municipality to form stronger bonds between community, academia and industry; efforts that have resulted in a joint centre for wood construction in the area Välle Broar, located at the heart of Växjö city.

The area Välle Broar was reserved as early as 2005 as the City Council adopted a strategy to integrate more wood in modern construction. Välle Broar already contains a number of buildings based on sustainable wood construction, these buildings have also become nationally acclaimed. The pilot-project Limnologen, containing a set of apartments, is located within the Välle Broar area. Additional construction has commenced, thus securing Växjö and Kronoberg’s position as a prominent sustainable region.

Creating a sustainable city here and now
What are the preliminaries behind Växjö’s success in wood construction technology? Välle Broar project manager Peter Rydell summarises the response by emphasising cooperation between the municipality, academia and industry. Växjö was among the first Swedish municipalities daring to invest in wood construction and subsequently set aside an entire area in Välle Broar solely for this purpose.
Peter Rydell continues: “Many municipalities have townships based on traditional wood construction. However, Växjö is creating the sustainable city of the future here and now based on modern construction technology”.

First steps taken by industry
Södra skogsägarna is the largest association of private forest owners in Sweden. Södra initiated discussion as early as in the mid-90s, shortly after the ban on building multi-storey houses in wood was eliminated.
“Södra wanted to show that there now was a significantly larger market for wooden products than had previously been possible, and therefore announced an architectural competition which eventually resulted in the first wood construction project for a multi-storey residential building. Municipal property owner Videum developed an interest in the idea and continued to build both academic and commercial office buildings based on wood technology in the Linnaeus University campus area. It was in other words a very positive spin-off effect on Södra’s initiatives that Videum was able to process further”, Peter Rydell explains.

Växjö among the pioneers
The Swedish government launched a national plan in order to coordinate and increase a general interest in sustainable wood construction projects. The strategy was called Nationella träbyggnadsstrategin and was adopted in 2004. The project Trästad 2012 can in many respects be regarded as an extension of the initial strategy.
Växjö was among the pioneers when it was decided that all local authorities, in other words all municipalities, should integrate more wood in the construction process. This was back in 2005, and as the decision was communicated Växjö replied by reserving the extensive area Välle Broar as part of the vision of the modern sustainable city.
“We have a lot to show for our efforts such as the nationally acclaimed constructions Limnologen and Välludden. The area also offers a unique combination of wood construction and energy-saving building techniques combined in so called passive house technology. The district of Portvakten and upcoming project Vallen where 200 new homes are projected are good examples”.

Swedish technology to set global standard – again
The project Pelarsalen is another good example of successful modern wood construction. The industrial players Derome and Dynacon are planning to build 50 homes each. Furthermore, Södra is yet again underlining the strong ambition of Välle Broar by constructing a tennis centre – entirely made up by wood.
“All parties involved share the same vision on the development of the modern sustainable city, thus making Välle Broar a unique development of high international interest”, states Peter Rydell.
The long-term goal is to spread Swedish wood construction technology globally; here Växjö municipality finds itself at a very advantageous position based on previous and current investments.