Elding Oscarson delivers an immersive auditorium in Stockholm

A Wooden Orb

Elding Oscarson delivers an immersive auditorium in Stockholm

Wisdome Stockholm’s spherical auditorium is contained within a freestanding grid shell roof. (Mikael Olsson)

A new museum addition in Sweden leverages the latest immersive visual technologies within a domed auditorium and event space. Known as Wisdome Stockholm, the project was designed by Elding Oscarson and adds to the Tekniska Museet, Sweden’s National Museum of Science and Technology.

The extension was constructed within an under-utilized courtyard and connects previously separate wings of the museum. Prior to the construction of Wisdome, the courtyard, which is enclosed on all sides, was inaccessible to visitors.

front view of Wisdome Stockholm designed by Elding Oscarson
Wisdome Stockholm occupies half of the courtyard’s original area. (Mikeal Olsson)

Elding Oscarson was selected as the project’s architect by means of a competition sponsored by Stora Enso, a Swedish forestry company. All entrants were required to design structures that could be assembled from standardized timber components produced by the manufacturer.

Seeking to avoid a standard slab and column design, Elding Oscarson collaborated with Florian Kosche, an Oslo-based structural engineer to devise a freestanding gridshell roof for the building. The architects’ ambition was to mirror the museum’s mission related to science and technology with a structurally innovative addition.

interior of roof structure
The roof’s LVL supports are held together by timber dowels. (Mikeal Olsson)

Wisdome’s gridshell roof is constructed from carbon-sequestering laminated veneer lumber (LVL). Each beam was formed from a composite of five LVL layers held together by timber dowels. Altogether, the roof structure consists of more than 10,000 individual components cut by a large CNC machine. QR codes were applied to each piece to help the builders keep track of the assemblages.

The use of thin LVL layers allowed for the introduction of curvature in the roof. The majority of the timber layers arrived flat and were hand-bent on site prior to installation.

To meet fire protection standards, the LVL components were over-dimensioned to allow for burn-off while still remaining structurally solid. Additionally, a fire-retardant chemical was applied to the wood.

view of domed wood roof structure
Wooden shakes, a common roofing material in Sweden, clad the roof of the building. (Mikeal Olsson)

Seen from above, the building is roofed with heart pine shakes, adding vernacular character to Wisdome’s bulbous exterior profile. Glazing beneath the eaves allows natural light into the event space.

“The dome is very tall, but we were required to have a low program around it. We wanted to have the dome as the centerpiece indoors, not sticking out of the building,” said Jonas Elding, one of the firm’s founding partners.

This leads to a dramatic confrontation on the interior. As you enter, the free-form roofline arcs upward to contain the imposing timber orb.