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Wisdome shows pioneering expertise
#greenbuilding

Wisdome shows pioneering expertise

One of the world’s most spectacular timber engineering projects was recently completed in Sweden. Built for Stockholm’s Tekniska Museet, the Wisdome is a free-form structure using 20 kilometres of laminated veneer lumber. The design uses this kind of wood in an entirely new way.

The double-curved roof is a large-span structure that flows upwards from ground level on one side up to a height of over 12 metres on the other. Like a mantle, it wraps around a hemispherical dome, which is the actual Wisdome. In the new annex for the Tekniska Museet in Stockholm, cutting-edge visualization technology turns complex scientific relationships into an immersive experience. Nonetheless, the timber construction itself with its complicated design has become the museum’s new technical attraction.

Wisdome Stockholm, Elding Oscarson Architects, Blumer Lehmann
Two mock-ups by Blumer Lehmann provided information for the construction.

This spectacular project aims to enhance the content available at the institution. “There are plenty of cars, machines and aeroplanes in the museum, but there is little about construction,” explains architect Johan Oscarson.

A wealth of timber expertise

For the winning design, Elding Oscarson Architects and timber construction engineer Florian Kosche joined forces to combine their wealth of expertise. The gridshell construction consists of five layers of criss-crossing wooden beams and reaches a span of 48 metres. Project manager at Blumer Lehmann David Riggenbach explained: “What we are doing in this project can be called rocket science in wood engineering. The Wisdome project is rated as one of the most important ongoing projects in Sweden.”

What we are doing in this project can be called rocket science in wood engineering.

David Riggenbach, project manager at Blumer Lehmann

Swiss timber construction company Blumer Lehmann, headquartered in Gossau, is among the world’s leading players in the sector, with their huge amount of know-how in the realization of organic timber architecture. Their most spectacular construction projects to date include the Tamedia building in Zurich and the Swatch headquarters in Biel, both of which were designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

Wisdome Stockholm, Elding Oscarson Architects, Blumer Lehmann
The timber construction with its complex design has become the museum’s new technical attraction.

Peg and dowel connectors

The Swiss timber construction experts produced several mock-ups for the Wisdome’s free-form wooden roof. Subsequent findings led to a precise construction plan, which was implemented on the basis of a traditional timber construction design. Instead of metal connections, pegs and dowels were used to join up the individual elements.

The beams for the gridshell are made of spruce laminated veneer lumber (LVL). LVL is a kind of structural composite timber, comparable with glulam. Its considerably thinner lamellae make the structure even more resilient and dimensionally stable. In total, around 20 kilometres of LVL were used to build the shell. The roof is supported by 24 solid columns consisting of block-bonded LVL beams, 60 x 80 cm and 60 x 60 cm in size.

Construction, Wisdome Stockholm, Elding Oscarson Architects, Blumer Lehmann
The gridshell construction consists of five layers of criss-crossing wooden beams and reaches a span of 48 metres.
3D cinema, Wisdome Stockholm, Elding Oscarson Architects, Blumer Lehmann
A 3D cinema with 360-degree projections is housed in the dome.

Renovating the Multihalle

This free-form roof is reminiscent of Frei Otto’s Multihalle in Mannheim, built for Germany’s Federal Garden Show in 1975. Even today, it is the largest free-form timber gridshell construction in the world. An architectural masterpiece, it was given listed building status in 1998 and is currently undergoing a comprehensive renewal.

Wisdome Stockholm pushes the boundaries of timber construction and shows what can be made out of wood as an innovative and climate-friendly construction material.

Jessika Szyber, business development manager at Stora Enso

The construction materials for the Wisdome were specified in the competition brief. The LVL comes from the Stora Enso plant in Varkaus, Finland, and was processed by Blumer Lehmann in Switzerland. Inside, the dome has a diameter of 22 metres and houses a 3D cinema for 360-degree projections, with around 100 seats. It consists of 277 triangular CLT elements that were prefabricated at Stora Enso’s Swedish plant in Gruvön.

Dome, Wisdome Stockholm, Elding Oscarson Architects, Blumer Lehmann
The shell of the dome is made of 277 triangular CLT elements.

Showcase for modern timber engineering

Taking a similar approach to the Multihalle in Mannheim at the time, this new museum building in Stockholm is designed to be a kind of showcase for modern timber engineering. “Wisdome Stockholm pushes the boundaries of timber construction and shows what can be made out of wood as an innovative and climate-friendly construction material,” explains Jessika Szyber, business development manager at Stora Enso.

Wisdome Stockholm opened to the public in December 2023. It enables complex relationships – such as strategies to fight climate change – to be experienced in an entertaining setting. One of these strategies is timber engineering, which is showcased by this building in a truly spectacular way.

Text: Gertraud Gerst
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Photos & visualizations: Elding Oscarscon Architects, Blumer Lehmann

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