Kebony adds sustainability to city hang-out
Last year, the Malmö Municipality in Sweden unveiled the opening of Slussplan, a brand new urban park. One year on, Slussplan Urban Park has proved to be a great success, offering a public space without the use of tropical hardwood, ensuring sustainability at its core. The park combines a unique stairway providing access to Malmö’s historic canal, green space for the residents of the surrounding neighbourhood and triangular seating made from sustainable Kebony wood.
Bordered by the existing buildings, the triangular park is divided into two parts featuring circular vegetation beds adorned with shrubs and plants on one side and an active urban square on the other. The park vaunts an art installation by David Svensson, which was unveiled at the park’s opening last year by Ola Melin, director of Urban planning division in Malmö.
Designed by Mandaworks for the Malmö Municipality, this project is a triumph of landscaping architecture, weaving together infrastructure to create a new area for urban ecology and recreational space. Following the outright ban imposed upon tropical hardwood in Stockholm, and a growing trend in European cities of legislating against, and voluntarily avoiding the use of timber imported from the tropics in public projects, Mandaworks wanted to ensure that the materials chosen were sourced from sustainably managed, non-tropical forests. Kebony’s sustainable wood was therefore selected for the ‘urban hang-out’ benches along the promenade, due to the material’s positive impact in reducing demand for high performance tropical timber.
A recent study by environmental consulting firm Bergfald & Co. demonstrated that Kebony has a substantially lower carbon footprint than its tropical hardwood equivalents. The study shows that the carbon footprint for clear-fell Brazilian Ipê is in the range of 7,500–15,000 kilograms per cubic metre; whilst the carbon footprint of Kebony is approximately 459 kilograms per cubic meter, both figures include treatment and transportation to Northern Europe. This paves the way for a future in which wood is an integral and, most importantly, sustainable part of the construction industry.
Developed in Norway, the patented Kebony technology is an environmentally friendly process, which modifies sustainably sourced softwoods by heating the wood with furfuryl alcohol - an agricultural by-product. By polymerising the wood’s cell wall, the softwoods permanently take on the attributes of tropical hardwood including high durability, hardness and dimensional stability, without the need for tropical deforestation.
For Kebony, this waterside urban landscaping project follows another recent project at Fjord City, Oslo, a publically accessible park and bathing complex. Here there was a similar effort to capitalise on Kebony’s strong eco-credentials and durability to transform a post-industrial waterfront into a recreational space of this nature. In both cases, Kebony’s versatility as a material has rendered it invaluable for the construction of everything from street furniture to public boardwalk. The silver-grey patina that the wood develops over its elongated life-span has also singled it out as a popular material for architects in marine settings like these, where its matured colour is frequently a perfect complement to the setting.
Martin Arfalk of Mandaworks commented “We wanted the park to be a lasting space for public recreation and Kebony’s wood is suitably durable that it will stand up to wearing and weathering. Its attractive natural aesthetic also perfectly complements the park’s character.”
Per Thyberg, Country Manager of Kebony Sweden, commented “It is gratifying to see Kebony once again selected for the development of a recreational public space like this where its durability and beautiful aesthetics will contribute to the public’s enjoyment of the Slussplan Urban Park.”
Photography © Anthony Hill Photography