Isn't it good...

Words:
Stephen Cousins

... Norwegian wood? Forest power stations get unusual cladding

It’s so good, in fact, that the Scandinavians are using it to clad their power stations. The Øvre Forsland hydroelectric power plant, deep within the mountains of Helgeland – a hiker’s paradise just below the Arctic Circle – features a vertically banded facade of glass and the durable wood Kebony. The cladding is designed to reflect the vertical irregularity of the surrounding spruce forest and rock formations.

Designed by local practice Stein Hamre arkitektkontor, the 30GWh facility will power 1,600 homes. It aslo functions as an attraction educating hikers about hydroelectric power and giving them first hand experience of the various stages of power production.

Kebony is produced using sustainably-sourced soft wood species impregnated with a non-chemical  treatment and heated under pressure to create a highly durable, maintenance-free product. It was chosen for its beauty, hardwearing qualities and sustainability, avoiding the need to source hardwood from endangered tropical forests.

Robin Söderkvist, from Stein Hamre arkitektkontor, commented: ‘The Kebony will gradually acquire a grey patina as it interacts with the elements. Its durability and low-maintenance characteristics lend the wood to remote locations.’

The power plant was commission by Helgelands Kraft, a large producer of hydraulic electricity for northern Norway. In 2008 the company started commissioning new hydraulic power stations with specific environmental credentials, committing itself to building facilities that fit in with their surroundings and act as an attraction and destination.

Latest

Lighting ideas to brighten the long winter evenings

Lighting ideas to brighten the long winter evenings

Hoskins’ remodelling of Aberdeen Art Gallery offers a visual feast, improving the displays, views of the city and the building’s contribution to the streetscape

There’s so much more to see at Hoskins’ redeveloped gallery

If passive heat control can work in Burkina Fasso it can surely be applied in Europe. Brian Ford offers seven design principles to help avoid carbon intensive air conditioning

Air conditioning makes us hotter – don’t give it house room

South Africa’s housing crisis puts the UK’s in the shade. Joseph Noero takes a practical approach to his mission to change that

Simple, affordable Table House has huge potential to improve lives

RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner famed for buildings such as the Olivetti offices, Fountains Abbey visitor centre and the Downland Gridshell among others; teacher, collaborator and known above all for his inclusive, optimistic approach

Hugely influential designer, teacher and Royal Gold Medallist