Stockholm Wood City — the “world’s largest mass timber project” — will be constructed in Sickla, just southeast of central Stockholm, and take shape as “a vibrant, urban environment with a mix of workplaces, housing, restaurants and shops,” a press release reveals. Featuring 7,000 office spaces and 2,000 homes, spanning 250,000 square meters in total, the City will incorporate organic elements inspired by nature and embody a forest vibe. Indeed, the trend of using wood in construction and interior design only continues to grow, as evidenced by this ambitious project, highlighting the increasing preference for wood as a versatile, sustainable, and aesthetically-pleasing material.
Working with nature
“We sought to create an urban environment infused with the serenity of a forest, resulting in a dense, open space that bears the distinctively minimalistic and functional aesthetic of Scandinavian design,” explains real estate developer, Atrium Ljungberg. “The architects innovatively incorporated natural elements into the structures — for instance, green roofs for better insulation and large windows to let in natural light, embodying our vision of a city that thrives in harmony with nature”. With its distinctive design and green spaces, the project effortlessly fosters a balanced relationship between urban development and the surrounding natural world. Indeed, an ecologically-conscious approach to development of this kind helps preserve natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and habitats by minimizing habitat destruction, deforestation, and pollution, in particular.
The rise of biophilic design
Additionally, the City will also champion biophilic design principles that integrate elements of nature into the home — an increasingly popular trend in Stockholm due to the growing awareness of the benefits of connecting with nature indoors. In particular, biophilic design includes using natural materials like wood as its natural aesthetic and texture evoke a sense of connection to the outdoors, contributing to a healthier and more harmonious indoor environment. Wood wall panels, for example, are a simple yet effective way to introduce wood into the home, resulting in a calming and warm atmosphere. Additionally, incorporating elements like indoor plants and natural light is also integral to biophilic design to ultimately create serene and uplifting spaces that promote well-being.
Wood: an eco-conscious design choice
By embracing the strategic use of wood and timber, in particular, Stockholm Wood City exemplifies a commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. Wood is a biodegradable resource with a low carbon footprint, making it an eco-friendly alternative to traditional building materials like steel, brick, and concrete. As wood can be harvested from responsibly managed forests that ensure new trees are planted to replace those harvested, it’s a renewable choice that supports both environmental conservation and responsible resource management practices. Notably, in terms of interior design, the growing emphasis on sustainability is resulting in the popularity of natural wood finishes — ones that allow the grain to show — throughout the home. Matte or satin finishes are often preferred over high-gloss lacquers, as they maintain the organic feel of the wood.
Improving indoor air quality, mood, and health
Wooden buildings have also been found to be better for health as they naturally regulate humidity levels and absorb pollutants, leading to greater indoor air quality. In turn, risk of respiratory issues decrease and overall well being improves. Moreover, wood is also associated with reduced stress levels, improved mood, and increased productivity, making it a desirable material for creating healthy and comfortable living environments. Lighter wood tones like birch, beech, and ash, in particular, are increasingly popular choices in Stockholm interiors. These woods help keep interior spaces feeling bright and airy, which is especially important during the long, dark Swedish winters. These attractive lighter wood tones also offer a simple, minimalist aesthetic, which fits in with Scandinavian design traditions that typically champion clean, airy, and tranquil spaces.
Designed by Scandinavian studios Henning Larsen and White Arkitekter, construction on Stockholm Wood City is set to begin in 2025, with the first buildings completed in 2027. With this project setting a remarkable example, it only makes sense to wonder if the use of wood in building construction and interior design can also be embraced in other cities across Sweden, and, indeed, the wider world. Ultimately, wood-forward trends hold the key to sustainable growth in our home and cities.