Climate change and its consequences are beginning to surface. The challenge of surviving the next fifty years is now seen as a global existential crisis. In the last 50 years, the rate of warming has been almost double that in a century. If sharp reductions in global emissions are made it will be possible to limit the rise of temperature for the long term. We are witnessing catastrophic patterns in climate change. The only way to reverse this is to regain stability in climate and weather systems through climate repair.  This is possible only when we make very rapid progress to bring the net global emissions to zero.

Role Of Sweden

Sweden is playing a huge role in dealing with the climate crisis. The country’s long-term target is to have zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest. A big step in the journey would be reducing its consumption of oil-based products to become climate-neutral. To become fossil-free, the country is dealing with its forest industry. Sweden is addressing questions like ‘how we harvest wood’, ‘what use it is put to’, etc. To reduce Sweden’s carbon emissions- those that come from the country’s forest industries- Anders Berensson Architects has proposed the world’s largest timber structure: The Bank of Norrland.

Anders Berensson Architects unveils World's Largest Timber Structure - Sheet1
Bank of Norrland from distance_©Anders Berensson Architects

Structure

Anders Berensson Architects has proposed an idea of building a cubic kilometer of stored logs that together form the world’s largest timber structure. The function of the bank will be to store a year’s worth of timber production. It will provide farmers with decent payment for their wood and will ensure continuity for the Swedish building and manufacturing industries in stormy and unpredictable times. But the primary purpose of the bank will be to prevent the release of carbon dioxide into the air by locking it in the woods. Through the bank, timber will be stored for future use rather than being immediately burnt for paper or fuel as it is done today. This particular practice releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Anders Berensson Architects unveils World's Largest Timber Structure - Sheet2
Structure of Bank of Norrland_©Anders Berensson Architects
Anders Berensson Architects unveils World's Largest Timber Structure - Sheet3
Zoomed unit of Bank of Norrland_©Anders Berensson Architects

The structure is not a mega mass seen in the pictures from afar. It is made up of multiple small units of logs placed on top of each other to dry in long rows. These logs form large walls that intersect to produce each cubic unit. The process of drying the logs is closely monitored so that the unit or structure as a whole doesn’t shrink fast. Therefore, all trucks will pass the humidity check station and will be allocated a location to which they get transported in their cargo.

Anders Berensson Architects unveils World's Largest Timber Structure - Sheet4
Transporting of wood in cargo through ramp_©Anders Berensson Architects

Facts

Forests are called a carbon sink because it stores carbon that it extracts from the air through photosynthesis. The soil in the forest stores a large proportion of carbon. Therefore, it continues to slowly emit greenhouse gases into the air for around fifteen years after trees have been logged. The remaining carbon is stored in tree trunks. The majority of this wood is used to make pulp, disposable paper products, and biofuel which accounts for 33% of Sweden’s total national carbon emissions. Generated wastes are burned in heating plants that further emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All emissions that result from burning wood are classified as “renewable.” Therefore, forestry is considered a crucial part of Sweden’s climate strategy. Since wood is very durable, carbon can be stored in wood for centuries.

Anders Berensson Architects proposed the idea based on sci-fi. Though it’s fiction, the scientific component in it summarizes facts about the country’s forest industry today. It suggests a new, radical forest industry that generates a new and radical architecture. They have proposed the idea in an attempt to make a Diverse ecosystem. Such ecosystems tend to be more resilient to the effects of climate change, including forest fires, parasites, water shortages, and storms. Under the Paris Agreement, Sweden has committed to drastically lower its carbon emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 2030. By 2050, the goal is a decrease of 95% of 1990 levels.

Anders Berensson Architects unveils World's Largest Timber Structure - Sheet5
Interior of Bank_©Anders Berensson Architects
Board room _©Anders Berensson Architects

Such climate-conscious commitments will change how forests are managed in the future. Anders Berensson Architects have taken a purposive step towards the preservation of wood. Climate change has already had an impact. Due to a lack of ground frost, more trees are being felled in Sweden during storms. The wildfires are hitting harder because of dryer seasons.  Because forests take a long time, around 60-120 years to regrow, It’s better to conserve forests and restore ecosystems. The Bank of Norrland has been produced for the exhibition “Architectures of Transition” at Bildmuseet in Umeå, which is open to visitors until March 2022.

References:

  1. https://andersberenssonarchitects.com/work/bank-of-norrland/
Author

Mamta is an avid reader. Her passion for theoretical architecture derives from Travelling, reading mythology, and practicing her career. Being an architecture student for life, she aims to connect with people of all kinds who can critique her work and enhance her as a person.

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