Learning environment

Stora Enso – Sykkylven School, The best learning environment for the next generation

How can building with wood reduce emissions Is it true that a school built with wood will reduce your pulse rate and help students concentrate better And what is the process when you build with pre-fabricated wood components We asked Magnus HolmAndersenCOO at Woodcon A/S in Norwaydiscover.

Hello Magnus! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about building wooden schools. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself

I work as COO for Woodcon A/S. This means that I am responsible for everything related to contracts, logistics and things like that. I work closely with Stora Enso.

You could say that I am a project from the beginning to the end of the building. And Woodcon has built many wooden schools – 150,000 m2 in total so far, since 2016.

Can you tell us more about the new skole Sykkylven

Yes, Sykkylven is quite a big school and we will need about two years to build it. It will be completed in time for the start of the school year in the fall of 2023. About 500 children will start studying there.

The assembly time for the building was nine weeks in the summer of 2022. Everything, including the walls, floor partitions and stairs, is constructed from wood. The only part of the school that is not entirely made of wood is the sports center.

Why is it made of wood

Wood is beneficial in many ways. First, we have the environmental aspect. This has a high priority in Norway, as in many other countries. Using wood in buildings can significantly reduce emissions compared to concrete and steel. The material is lighter and easier to move and transport, it creates a better working environment during construction and the result is a truly healthy indoor climate. People like to work and live in wooden buildings.

There are studies done (in England and Germany) which show that your pulse actually drops when you enter a wooden building. In wooden schools, students report feeling calmer and can concentrate better. We often hear teachers and students say that wood creates a comfortable and warm environment for learning.

What the process looks like when Woodcon orders prefabricated components for a new wooden school building

Woodcon works closely with architects, builders and consultants to create an optimized and functional building, according to the plans and vision that the architect and builder have for the project. When the geometry of the building is decided, Woodcon begins the process by dimensioning the walls, columns and beams before the final IFC model (3D model) is created.

This model includes all technical cutouts, windows, doors, and wood specs that will be visible and on display in the building. Then the finalized and processed 3D model is sent to Stora Enso for optimization. Then Woodcon takes control to confirm everything is correct before production starts. wood and Stora Enso co-operate in drawing up delivery plans and decide how different items should be placed during transport.

Sykkylven skole is made from prefabricated building elements. How does it work this way Are there any specific challenges

Well, one challenge is that as soon as you start putting the building blocks together, you have a finished product in place. This means that there is a risk that you will mark or damage the wood during construction. You need good practice to make everyone aware of this because it’s different from other construction methods. But we’ve been building like this for many years, and it’s not a problem at all. And there are so many benefits! The construction elements are much easier to transport and require fewer deliveries.

The material itself is lightweight, so you need less concrete for the foundation of the building. And the job site is a much cleaner and quieter place than if you’re building with steel and concrete. All technical solutions are easier and craftsmen working on, for example, plumbing and ventilation appreciate being able to screw and fix into the wood wherever they are in the building.

When you start a project like this, who decides that wood is the preferred material?

Here in Norway it is often the municipality that decides. If they have high environmental requirements, it has to be wood. Otherwise, it is not possible to meet building code standards. The customer determines the choice of construction material. Sometimes it is the general contractor who proposes a solution in wood products, because it is often more competitive than other alternatives. Typically the next step in the process is for an architect and my company, Woodcon, to join the project.

We try to be involved from the beginning of the process because we know so much about the profitability of these types of projects. We take the time to explain how to build smart with wood and avoid common pitfalls. We have a lot of experience and we all work together to make the project as economically efficient and optimized as possible.

Building in wood is a trend that’s here to stay, isn’t it?

Yes absolutely! This is a trend in many countries, all over the world. Norway is at the forefront of the use of wood. Expertise around project planning and things like that could be even higher in central Europein Germany and Austria.

In Scandinavia, we see that Norway is number one in timber construction, so Sweden as number two, followed by Finland and Denmark. A difference between Norway and Sweden is in Norway we build many kindergartens, schools and retirement homes out of wood. Sweden built many prestigious and innovative buildings.

So what do the people of Sykkylven think of their new school?

Of course they are enthusiastic. It is a great new school, built to be a very good place for children and young people and they appreciate that. And since we built a big school, there are a few smaller schools around that will have to close. But I think everyone will be very happy with this new modern school when it opens. There are so many benefits and wood construction is definitely here to stay.

Part of the global bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading supplier of renewable products in packaging, biomaterials, wood construction and paper, and one of the largest private forest owners in the world. We believe that anything made from fossil materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. Stora Enso has approximately 22,000 employees and our sales in 2021 were €10.2 billion. Stora Enso shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy (STEAV, STERV) and Nasdaq Stockholm AB (STE A, STE R). In addition, the shares are traded on the UNITED STATES as ADR (SEOAY).

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