Norway and Sweden Tour Gives Insights on Timber Tech Future

Mon 19 Jun 23


Timber innovation is advancing rapidly with robotics, prefabrication and ‘green manufacturing’ leading in driving a global revival for timber-rich projects. 

This was the takeaway from an Australian mission to Norway and Sweden.

Led by Andrew Dunn, CEO of the Timber Development Association, the Wood Solutions supported tour included 15 leading architects, engineers, developers and building professionals.

According to Dunn, “It’s amazing that wherever you go in this part of the world, modern timber construction is being used.”

The World’s Tallest All-Timber Hotel

This includes Mjostarnet, which until last year held the record as the tallest all-timber building. Replaced by the Wisconsin ‘Ascent’ building in June 2022 it remains the world’s tallest all-timber hotel.

The 18-storey mixed-use building features apartments, offices and the ‘Wood Hotel’ with more than 3500 cub n of glulam and cross-laminated timber used in the building’s construction.

Moelven Limtre, Norway’s largest glulam manufacturer, supplied the timber for the building with the mission guided by Rune Abrahamse, CEO and Age Holmestad director.

“We were privileged to access areas that are generally not accessible,” Mr Dunn said.

The project has been celebrated ‘as a big step towards adopting green construction.’ It has inspired the global adoption of all-timber construction, including Sydney’s 55-storey Milligan Tower and 39-storey Atlassian Central Tower, currently in development.

A tour of the 1994 Olympic Game Infrastructure

The Norwegian city of Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, and the mission provided unique access to ‘Hamar Hall’ and ‘Hakons Hall’ – the speed skating rink and ice hockey venue used for the Games.

The 20,000-seat Hamar Hall hosted speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo credit: Olympic Games)

The Hamar Hall’s architecture is reminiscent of an upside-down Viking ship, while the Hakons Hall is an 11,500-capacity multi-purpose stadium ‘dug out from the ground’.

The venue hosted the Ice Hockey at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo credit: CNN)

Glulam beams supplied by Moelven Limtre underpin both venues and have stood for over 30 years, inspiring the 2032 Summer Olympic Games in Brisbane and the 2026 Commonwealth Games in regional Victoria.

The mission also visited the Eva Lisa Holtz Arena in Karlstad, Sweden, which opened in 2022 and combined glulam beams and cross-laminated timbers to create an elite all-weather training venue for Swedish athletes.

The Eva Lisa Holta Areana in Karlstad, Sweden.

According to mission delegate Clarissa Brandt, Timber Queensland’s strategic relations and communications manager, the use of glulam and cross-laminated timber should provide inspiration for the Brisbane 2032 Games organising committee.

Last month, Wood Central exclusively revealed that the Queensland government will look to use mass-timber in the Athletes Village in Hamilton Northshore.

The World’s ‘Greenest Timber Plant’

The mission was ‘wowed’ by Sodra’s newest cross-laminated timber plant opened in Varo in March.

The plant can process 100,000 cub m of timber, enough to build 4000 apartments and will increase the company’s mass timber capacity tenfold.

Inside the new Södra CLT Facility in Väröbacka where mother boards are being prepared for the CNC machine. 14 people operate on two shifts to produce two mother or master panels an hour, with two shifts a day producing 30 panels a day. (Photo credit: Clarissa Brandt)
Inside the new Södra CLT Facility in Väröbacka where mother boards are being prepared for the CNC machine. 14 people operate on two shifts to produce two mother or master panels an hour, with two shifts a day producing 30 panels a day. (Photo credit: Clarissa Brandt)

According to Sodra’s business and product development manager Ola Landqvist, “the new plant is ‘fossil-free’ with the timber produced giving an 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to traditional concrete frames.

Sodra, Sweden’s largest forest owners’ association with 52,000 forest managers participating in the collective, produces 18 million cub m of timber, with 2.2 million cub m in lumber and sawlog and the balance for paper, pulp and biomass.

Amazingly, the facility is 100% powered by bioenergy, with offcuts from Sodra providing 1% of Sweden’s total energy needs!

IKEA uses Prefab to Construct 14,000 modular houses

Sweden is increasingly recognised as a global leader in prefab construction, and on the second day, the mission toured the BoKlok manufacturing facility in Vaxjo.

BoKlok is a joint venture between IKEA and Swedish development company Skanda, with the facility “recycling most of the leftover materials and disposing of less than 1% of waste,” according to Jenny Adholm, head of sustainability.

On Wednesday, the 14th of June 2023 Australian delegates on the WoodSolutions and TDA Tour visited the Bo Klok manufacturing facility in Växjö, Sweden. (Photo credit: Clarissa Brandt, Timber Queensland)
The Bo Klok manufacturing facility in Växjö, Sweden. (Photo credit: Clarissa Brandt, Timber Queensland)

The facility uses zero-labour robots to assemble floor panels into place and according to Andrew Dunn, “Not a single Allen key was seen.”

BoKlok has used prefab to deliver land developments including the Vaxjo Knyttet estate which is a blend of off-site manufactured houses and apartments.

“When we arrived at the estate we were greeted with an Australian flag,” Mr Dunn said.

Using zero-labour robots BoKlok assembles floor plates into place, producing walls, floors, and roofs.

“It is clear where the world is going in manufacturing, and the tour has provided a glimpse of that,” Mr Dunn said.

Zero-labour Robots provide window into the future of off-site construction

The robots are manufactured and distributed by Randek AB at Snickaregatan in Sweden.

On the fourth day of the mission, delegates were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the manufacturing facility by CEO Christian Olafsson.

The CEO of Randek AB, Christian Olafsson, who provided the delegates with a tour of the Randek Robotics manufacturing facility in Snickaregatan in Sweden.

In December 2021, Randek AB joined forces with global machinery distributor ICM to provide a one-stop supplier for the complete timber construction process.

According to Clarissa Brandt, robotics could be the answer to labour shortages in the construction industry.

“The benefits are many, including reducing workplace health and safety risks,” Ms Brandt said.

“In a time-motion study, the robots saved 22,000 tonnes of lifting for one person in a year,” she said.

Australia’s largest component prefabricator Timbertruss already uses the technology to improve accuracy, speed, and safety in production.

Next stop the World Timber Engineering Conference in Oslo, Norway 

After five days, most delegates will now attend the World Timber Engineering Conference (WTEC) in Oslo, Norway.

The WTEC is the world’s leading scientific forum for timber construction. It is considered the most prestigious event for timber technology for the construction, timber structures and the design of timber architecture.

Running from June 19-22, Wood Central will have further exclusive reports from  Andrew Dunn and Clarissa Brandt.

• For more information about the tour, Wood Central has provided an exclusive day-by-day report which includes interviews with delegates, photos and videos.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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