Scan Magazine | Special Theme | Nordic Architecture and Design – Sweden
Esencial turns ideas on their head. Hey presto – what could be a dull waiting room is a viewing platform, with a colourful ringside view of the world going by.
Spiritual buildings for a practical future In 2017, two young Swedish architects with Spanish and Argentinian heritage joined forces. Today, the progressive architecture firm Esencial is on a winning streak, creating everything from dream homes to futuristic city planning projects, public buildings, and a bottomless swimming pool, submerged in the sea. By Ulrika Kuoppa-Jones | Photos: Esencial
2022 will be a year of fruition for Esencial’s founders Carmen Izquierdo and Mariano Tellechea. Many of their exciting architecture projects will either start or come to completion. The dynamic duo, with their trademark visionary ideas, extensive experience and sustainable knowhow, has bagged numerous awards, including the Kasper Salin Prize, the most prestigious architecture award in Sweden. Esencial has created and collaborated on a long line of projects, from cultural buildings like Domkyrkoforum in Lund and Varberg’s Komedianten culture centre to KTH’s School of Architecture building and smallscale residential dream homes. “We think of architecture as a built reality that moves between the practical and the spiritual. In today’s era of regulations and strict frameworks, it is the spiritual, the soft experiential values of architecture that we are particularly attentive to,” the two architects explain. “We really enjoy the variation. It’s exciting to one day build for private clients, and 88 | Issue 136 | November 2021
the next to collaborate with other offices to create comprehensive urban planning. It allows us to be really creative and experimental, but at the same time downto-earth and pragmatic,” they add.
“When we design, we reflect on the core issues of architecture: space, materials and light. Regardless of the scale of the project, we’re searching for timeless and meaningful qualities, all rooted in culture, in places and people. That’s what defines the character of our work.” Web: www.esencial.se Facebook: esencialarkitekter Instagram: @esencial_se
“At the moment, we’re hugely excited to create a partly submerged, bottomless set of public swimming pools at the old port, Frihamnen, in Gothenburg. It’s been a fun challenge to find solutions to working with the current and pumping up the freshest seawater that flows naturally underneath, into the pool.” It’s clear to see that a great deal of sustainable thinking goes into Esencial’s projects. The architects consider the impact of extreme weather with torrential downpours, while using sustainable building materials and constructions. Creating a healthy microclimate is another objective of the firm’s environmental efforts, while making sure that cultural values that create a sense of belonging are also at the very heart of the design process.
Sustainable thinking is behind every Esencial creation, like this poetic take on the traditional ‘kallbadhus’ (meaning ‘cold bath house’) in timber.