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GROW our cities through sustainable architecture and renewable building materials – example of a multisector collaboration in a resilient humanitarian context

Sandra Frank



Thursday, June 30, 2022


Multifunction Hall Room 13
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 193


The event will present the chronological narrative about the journey of the design, implementation and use of the CLT-pavilion, “The Community Hall”, that was donated to the host and refugee members in the Kalobeyei Settlement in Turkana County, Kenya through multi-actor cooperation of Swedish partners. The implementation was conducted in close collaboration with UN-Habitat to support activities in the region, which show the importance of urban planning and durable solutions in a refugee hosting context. The Community Hall was designed to be a shared space - relevant for individuals to sit down, share and communicate about their diverse and multifaceted communities. The building is also a statement reflecting the need to change the building industry to one which is more sustainable and resilient, more connected to addressing the interconnected urban future – and that it is possible to do so using wood. Architecturally, the building utilises a distinct shape, structure, material and height, and was prefabricated in cross laminated timber (one of the most advanced wooden construction materials) and built with refugee and host members on the site. The statement is one that supports the importance of creating public spaces for community, and to encourage development in a sustainable manner. Buildings shape cities - the fact that the community hall is made from wood is also a statement to emphasise that the practices of the building industry should be reassessed and readdressed. Concrete and steel are not the only possibilities to build strong structures, and the industries around those two materials can also be harmful for our ecosystem and overall urban resilience. We are on a mission to share that it is possible to change the way we build structures and that we can do so using wood, the only renewable and sustainable building material. Wood is a building material that we can grow, just as we grow our food, and we need to address the replantation of our original forests globally to get both natural reserves and renewable materials to build our future cities. The event will build on this common ground of interest and set the basis for looking at architectural design processes in their wholeness and in their relation to greater sustainable resilience and building. It will be conducted in a multidisciplinary matter, including talks, visual presentations with photographs and videos, statements, stories and debates, to provide a voice to all the actors involved in this collaboration from various expertise. The invitees include: ARVET (Sandra Frank), UN-Habitat implementation (Jia Cong Ang), Emil Bäckström (Architecture firm) that designed the building, SETRA GROUP (Katarina Levin) who produced the material, Ivan Segato which managed the implementation in Kenya, and Duncan McQueen from IIED who managed a comparison report of a city of 20 000 students built by concrete or timber.


The key objective is to raise awareness around the importance of urban resilience and climate issues, including the massive change the building industry is experiencing. It stands for 36% of global Co2 emissions today and almost all used materials are fossile, which means that they are ending and we can never reproduce them. In addition, steel and concrete industry are two of our most polluting manufacturing industries. The message is “We need to GROW our cities” - to replant forests that have been used and to engage with urban actors to focus on renewable and sustainable building materials. Just as how we grow our food, we need to replant and harvest and provide the forest industry the same status as the food industry. As forests grow, trees clean the air for a better and cleaner urban future. If we use that wood to build our future cities we will produce carbon sinks for hundreds of years. The forest sector will contribute many jobs for people in rural areas, and contribute to building greater education on good forestry management and creating direct correlations to its benefits towards the sustainable development goals.

Session speakers

Ms. Susanne Rudenstam
Swedish Wood Building Council
Ms. Sandra Frank
Ms. Jia Cong Ang
Mr. Ivan Segato
Mr. Philippe Monteil
Shigeru Ban