Recently the Norwegian Barents Secretariat announced plans for a new cultural center that is being touted as the world’s tallest wooden building. The Secretariat hopes that the new structure will serve as a physical symbol of their important role in the High North – a lighthouse of sorts and a beacon of knowledge and development. As part of that role, the new office and cultural center will also act as a model for sustainable building and carbon neutrality.

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Currently the world’s tallest wooden structure is said to be a 144 ft, 13-story home in Arkhangelsk, in North-West Russia built by Nikolai Sutyagin. The new tower by the Secretariat will be located in Kirkenes, Norway and will be 16-17 stories tall and constructed from natural materials with innovative and environmental solutions in all parts of the building. Oslo-based Reiulf Ramstad Architects are responsible for the ambitious project, which will be situated in downtown Kirkenes on the historical ground of a multiethnic area.

To achieve carbon neutrality, Reiulf Ramstad Architects is relying on integrated systems that also enable it- to adapt to the changing seasons and climate. The firm also plans to reuse biodegradable household and industrial waste to produce biogas. Recycled materials from the surrounding area will be incorporated into the design, which is based on traditional architecture from Russia, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

The interior of the center will house energy-efficient offices for the Barents Secretariat as well as a library, a theater and a creative environment for artists, researchers, students and other relevant institutions. Their goal is that the wooden building will serve as an example of sustainable construction for the surrounding region while acting as a center for cooperation between Russians, Finns, Swedes, Saamis and Norwegians.

+ Reiulf Ramstad Architects