Red ribbon on a pine tree

2024: The Year of the Wood Dragon Buildings

2024 – the Wood Dragon year comes once every 60 years in the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is associated with incredible strength, positive transformation, and challenges. And, the element wood, symbolises creativity and adaptability.

Together, they make the Year of the Wood Dragon sound surprisingly like this year’s mass timber outlook. Engineered wood products continue to go from strength to strength with improved durability and energy efficiency. Wood is replacing climate-damaging concrete with each new build/renovation. Overall, the construction industry is transforming in a nature positive direction.

In 2023, Stora Enso alone enabled approximately 2,000 buildings globally.

While we are witnessing a rise of sustainable buildings with climate-smart, creative, and flexible adaptable designs, this progress has challenges. 2024 is predicted to be one of the hottest years, if not the hottest, on Earth. We are seeing resource depletion, waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation like we have not seen before.

Whether you believe in zodiacs or not, to celebrate the new year, we wanted to share with you some lightness and brightness with these low-carbon buildings of 2024.

These climate-resilient buildings showcase some of the latest in wood architecture and herald a design future that fully embraces renewable materials, integrates nature, and reuses existing fabric. They are all made with inclusive community in mind and thanks to advances in collaborative design processes, many involved community stakeholders during the design process.

We look forward to the opening of these new buildings in 2024, with immense hope for the next 60-year cycle until the Wood Dragon returns. We thank our building solution partners for sharing their projects with us. We think they are beautiful — see what you think. We might be biased, after all, wood is our element every year.

Arboretum in France

Integrating nature: Arboretum, Nanterre, France

Biophilic designs maximising natural light, vegetation, and exposed wood materials are taking off all over 2024, but Arboretum will be doing it at scale when it opens in the summer. We may have to wait until the next Year of the Dragon 2036 to know all the benefits for workers, including improved psychological and physical health, reduced stress levels and improved air quality, but we can already see many of the benefits now as one of the world’s largest wood projects takes shape creating a creative, nurturing and productive atmosphere in the heart of Paris.

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Rendering: ©WO2/Ni.Acki
Arding & Hobbs building in London

Adaptive reuse chic: Arding & Hobbs, London, UK

Opening its doors any day now, this well-loved department store got a 90,000 sq ft (27,432 m²) makeover. Come see London’s spectacular sustainable mix of retail leisure and contemporary workspace with a biodiverse rooftop extension. Part of the building was already opened in late ‘23. 

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Image: ©B&K Structures

Wooden elements of Katajanokan Laituri

Energy efficiency show-offs: Katajanokan Laituri ∣ Stora Enso HQ, Helsinki, Finland

A milestone in the race to net-zero energy building is the global renewable materials giant Stora Enso’s new HQ and Varma’s mixed-use landscraper on Helsinki’s harbourfront, with one of the smallest construction footprints yet. Set to open in ‘24.

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Image: ©Puurakentajat Group Oy

Wisdome Stockholm's wooden dome and roof structure

Wisdome Stockholm, Sweden

Experience wood in a completely new way with Wisdome, Stockholm, Sweden's National Museum of Science and Technology’s latest and greatest 3D experience arena. Breathtakingly beautiful, Wisdome brings a sense of forest, awe into the city and bends our minds to imagine what’s possible to build with wood.

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Image: Focus Format | Gabriel Huber | Blumer Lehmann

World of Volvo

The World of Volvo, Gothenburg, Sweden

Say goodbye to commercial car lots and hello to community-centric, creative spaces that encourage social interaction and well-being. The World of Volvo is designed on Swedish principles of “allemansrätten”: the fundamental right that all citizens share to nature and roam freely on any land (public or private), showing consideration for nature and for others.

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Image: ©Christian Badenfelt

Seidle Haus wooden roof structure

Das Siedle Haus Art Gallery, Furtwangen, Germany

Deep in the Black Forest, a light-filled art gallery is taking shape.

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Image: ©Horst and Gabriele Siedle Art Foundation / Bernhard Strauss

Special thanks to: B&K Structures, Blumer Lehmann, WiEHAG, WO2, Holzbau Amann GmbH for sharing their projects with us so generously.  

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