A large-scale bank made of wood

By | 2020-02-26T13:17:00+00:00 February 26th, 2020|

Speaking at the 10th Wood Conference in Cape Town on 26 February, Thor Olav Solbjør, architect and CEO, SAAHA Norway, described the Bjerhstad Financial Park building, which was a groundbreaking use of timber.

Bjergsted Financial Park opens up towards the town and creates a generous connection between the building and its surroundings. Image credit:Helen & Hard

Bjergsted Financial Park opens up towards the town and creates a generous connection between the building and its surroundings. Image credit:Helen & Hard

“The design created a generous connection between the building and its surroundings. Seven storeys high with access for public and workers seamlessly interconnected. Open and majestic, it allows sunlight to filter through, creating a pleasing work environment,” said Solbjør.

Bjergsted Financial Park is the new head office for SR-Bank in the centre of Stavanger. It is an example of the future workplace and one of Europe’s largest office buildings in timber.

To make a large-scale bank in timber challenges the notion of a strong, robust bank, while breaking ground for the use of structural timber. The main structure of the 13 500m² over ground is made of timber up to 7 floors. This rests on a 9000 m² underground structure.

“To make a large-scale bank in timber challenges the notion of a strong, robust bank, while breaking ground for the use of structural timber.”

The plan layout of the building is organised around an atrium which brings light, air and green qualities into the building. Image credit: Njål Undheim

The plan layout of the building is organised around an atrium which brings light, air and green qualities into the building. Image credit: Njål Undheim

Connecting with its surroundings

Bjergsted Financial Park opens up towards the town and creates a generous connection between the building and its surroundings. A small park is established in relation to the entrance, creating a transition to the traditional small scale timber housing.

Design concept

The plan layout of the building is organised around an atrium which brings light, air and green qualities into the building. Different social meeting places are placed around the atrium.

The buildings volume has a sharp triangular shape to the exterior, articulated also through vertical glass fins for sun shading. In contrast the atrium have organically shaped galleries of timber forming a spectacular open stair where they come together.

Timber and sustainability

From early on the client was clear in their wish to use timber for the main structure, mostly due to its positive effects on the users; the experiential and health-bringing qualities of the future workspaces.

This was further backed by timber’s innate sustainable aspects providing ground for a BREEAM-NOR Excellent certification. The building’s lifecycle is prolonged by its ability to house flexible spaces made by multiplying and subdividing the 5,4m structural grid.

“The client was clear in their wish to use timber for the main structure, mostly due to its positive effects on the users; the experiential and health-bringing qualities of the future workspaces.”