65 minute read

Nordic Architecture and Design – Sweden


Fixfabriken. Photo: What! Arkitektur

A movement for sustainable design

2021 feels like the definitive breakthrough for sustainability within design, politics, business and society. Alongside digitalisation, which has been boosted by the pandemic, it is one of the big mega trends of our time. It therefore makes complete sense that the so-called Design Programme, which we started in 2016, now has a clearer focus on sustainability, with the goal of promoting sustainable growth in our country’s regions.

By Mats Widbom, CEO of Svensk Form – The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design

The Government’s export strategy emphasises that Sweden must be a leader in the global effort to realise the goals set out by the Paris Agreement, and that a transition to a circular and bio-based economy is crucial in order to achieve our climate goals. This transition can simultaneously serve to strengthen business competitiveness and help create new jobs. Our eyes are now therefore increasingly set on 2030, which will be a decisive year for the world’s sustainable development. It is the target year for the UN Agenda 2030, as well as the benchmark for halving global carbon emissions according to the Paris Agreement.

The Government wants Sweden to take the lead for the implementation of both

Mats Widbom, CEO of Svensk Form – The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design. Photo: Rana Van Pellecom

Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement – which feels quite natural considering Sweden has for three years running been ranked highest in the world for its efforts to curb global warming, according to the Climate Change Performance Index. As is well known, Sweden also has the world’s most influential climate activist in Greta Thunberg and her movement, Fridays For Future.

So there is no doubt that Sweden holds a leading position as a sustainability nation, not least on the European market, where 90 per cent of Swedish furniture export lies. This gives Swedish design and furniture companies a momentum to strengthen their competitiveness through sustainable design.

Web: svenskform.se

Interior of Viking Line’s new ship Viking Glory, design by Koncept. Photo: Koncept, for AFRY

Architecture for everyday life

An educational hub north of the Arctic Circle, an artistic outdoor gym, and a sports venue in a new urban development: these are just a few of Liljewall’s recent projects.

One of Liljewall’s most exciting designs, located in Gällivare, north of the Arctic Circle, is part of a unique metamorphosis, where two city centres will become one. Gällivare’s neighbouring town, Malmberget, must relocate due to mining and the increased risk of collapse. This is one of the world’s largest urban transformations and a massive investment. Together with MAF Arkitektkontor, Liljewall has created Kunskapshuset (House of Knowledge), an educational hub for an upper secondary school and adult education. Great emphasis has been put on creating a flexible and beautiful environment that can meet future demands for change and development. Inspired by the mine, Arctic nature and Sami artworks, the six-storey building combines wood, steel and concrete, to tell a story about its location and culture.

“Connecting Kunskapshuset to the Sami culture has been an important aspect,” says Niclas Sundgren, CEO at Liljewall. Three local creators from different disciplines have joined forces in creating the art that makes a key component of the characteristic red school: textile artist Britta Marakatt-Labba, glass artist Monica L Edmondson, and artist Anders Sunna.

Outdoor gym and sports venue It’s not the first time that Liljewall has worked with artists. The captivating project Tetraedern (The tetrahedron) is a new landmark created in collaboration with artist Gunilla Bandolin, combining aesthetics, exercise and the ability to experience the surrounding nature of lake Trummen in Växjö. The construction of impregnated wood invites passers-by to climb, jump and lift, or simply enjoy the view of the lake. “As in several of her earlier works, Gunilla Bandolin used geometric forms at an early stage,” says Niclas Sundgren. “This idea was further developed and shaped into a recognisable and functional piece of art, one of its kind.”

Another innovative commission is the sports venue in Mölnlycke Fabriker, which opened in the summer of 2021. The new activity and sports centre was built on behalf of Wallenstam, with parking for more than 500 cars and separate areas for gymnastics and trampolines. Both were developed in cooperation with the local athletics communities. The vision for the new district was to create a seamless weft of history, sports, health and entertainment, as well as housing and the Wallenstam arena.

Re-build and re-use Sustainability is at the top of the agenda for Liljewall. “With the UN’s global sustainability goals as a framework, we push for a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development,” says Niclas Sundgren. “Throughout the design process, we value resources, ecosystems and people’s wellbeing. We want to re-build instead of building from scratch, re-use materials and construct with wood where possible. Our ambition is to shape societies that develop for the better, with the goal that all our projects are climate neutral by 2030.” One important aspect of how Liljewall works with urban planning and architecture is digital tools. “These days, software for early analysis and smart sketching is a natural part of the design process and complements pen and paper,” elaborates Sundgren. “Our toolbox ranges from physical models in wood and 3D-printed structures to smart digital BIM models. With parametric design, we iterate different ideas with a diverse set of parameters to generate hundreds of sketches to choose from. By bringing together architects and experienced BIM experts, programmers, visual designers and marketing competence, we are developing tomorrow’s architecture.”

Web: www.liljewall.se Facebook: liljewallarkitekter Instagram: @liljewall_arkitekter

Photo: Perfect Picture Visuals

Founded in 1980, Liljewall is a diverse company with many strengths and talents. Just over 250 co-workers in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö aim to make life smoother, more fun and beautiful for the great many.

Photo: Emma Karlsmark Elfstrand

Gothenburg Courthouse. Extensive restoration of Architect Gunnar Asplund’s world-famous extension. Photo: Krister Engström

The Maritime Museum and Aquarium with its new subterranean extension. Visualisation: GAJD

GAJD combines restoration with commercial projects

GAJD Architects believes in working with the current reality of a building in order to bring out the unique touch of the time it was built in, to keep a city fresh and vibrant but firmly rooted in its own history.

thrive on helping their clients find solutions to issues that arise throughout the construction process. This has meant that their work often continues through to interior design and even furnishings.

Cities, particularly older ones, all tend to have their own particular touch – something you can’t quite put your finger on, but which makes it entirely unique. It’s true for places like New York and Paris, but also for a certain city in the west of Sweden – namely Gothenburg. GAJD Architects is part of the reason why. With an epicentre on the West Coast, the architecture firm undertakes responsible newbuild and restoration projects for private and public developers. These projects range from commercial developments to the restoration of landmarks, but always with a view to responsibly reusing what they can. Founded in 2003 by Gertrud Gudmundson, Magnus Englund and Mikael Nädele, the business has grown into a boutique consultancy well-known for finding tailored solutions to its clients’ issues. They This could mean a residential project that requires careful staging in order to help prospective buyers understand the potential of the unit, or a new office building that needs to adhere to an existing company’s brand. It all requires great attention to detail, and GAJD is more than happy to put in the extra time needed on a project until the client is 100 per cent happy.

Agile thinking This can be especially important when reworking an older building to suit modern use. Though it can be more complicated than just tearing it down and replacing it with a new build, it’s worth it – not least

because it is much more sustainable to reuse materials and structures when possible. As they say: the greenest building is one that already exists.

“One thing we always want to do is preserve whatever we can. We’ll often use the basic structure of a building, and it does mean that you have to be much more involved in the project. With a new build, things are more predictable, but in an old building you can tear down the walls only to find that the supporting construction isn’t where you had thought it was. It requires agile thinking and more involvement in the project from our side,” says Gudmundson.

“One thing we’re quite mindful of is to preserve not just the original build, but also any details that have been added during a time when they had a different view of building preservation. So a building may be from the late-18th century, and in the ‘70s they built an add-on. To us that’s a part of history too, almost like the rings on a tree,” Englund adds.

Caring for history Of course, attention to detail is also crucial when restoring and maintaining landmarks, which GAJD has been trusted to do across Sweden. Working closely with the National Property Board of Sweden as accredited architects, the firm undertakes a variety of projects in the many churches, castles and other historic buildings spread throughout the country.

One notable project was the restoration of the internationally renowned Gothenburg Courthouse, originally by architect Gunnar Asplund in the 1930s, which had fallen into disuse. A project of that scale would always start off with thoroughly researching the building and possible solutions before committing to any work, and from start to finish it could take up to nine years. But it paid off, with the firm being awarded the prestigious Helgo Award in 2018. Awarded by SFV every four years, the prize is a recognition of the value the firm continues to bring to public space.

Not all restoration projects are as grandiose as that, however. “Often what’s interesting about restoration projects might be smaller details that don’t seem that interesting to a layperson. It could be, for example, a fireproof roof structure in Läckö Castle, which means that it will be safer going forward. So it might not be something visible that you can point to and show people what you’ve done, but it feels good to know you’re helping to preserve it for future generations.”

With current and upcoming projects including Skansen Kronan and the Maritime Museum and Aquarium in Gothenburg, GAJD Architects is set to continue to shape the future of the West Coast and beyond.

Web: www.gajdarkitekter.se Instagram: @gajdarkitekter

Top left: Nya Kasernen, an extensive renovation of an office building from the ‘70s in the centre of Gothenburg. Owner Alecta fastigheter. Visualisation in collaboration with Walk the Room. Bottom left: New restaurant in an old port warehouse in central Gothenburg. Visualisation: GAJD/ Råformat. Middle: The owners of GAJD in front of a new entrance to The Röhsska Museum of Design and Craft – Gertrud Gudmundson, Mikael Nädele and Magnus Englund. Photo: Cecilia Hallin. Right: Gothenburg Courthouse. GAJD performed an extensive restoration and interior design of Architect Gunnar Asplund’s world-famous building. Photo: Krister Engström

Prisma - Innovation hub in Helsingborg

Sustainability the Scandinavian way

Erik Giudice Architects create modern architecture with ties to traditional roots, underpinned by a strong focus on sustainability.

Sustainability is a buzzword thrown around by many in the urban development industry, but few live and breathe it the way Erik Giudice Architects (EGA) do. Founded by Swedish-Italian architect Erik Giudice, the firm has offices both in Sweden and France, and works internationally with architecture and urban planning.

Key in all its projects is the materials used throughout. Wood makes an appearance time and time again, inspired by Giudice’s early brush with the material during his apprenticeship in his uncle’s woodworking shop at 16. Wood is also easily accessible in Scandinavia, which has meant that an architectural tradition has formed around it. It’s not just Giudice’s personal connection to the material that appeals, however; it’s also its sustainability credentials.

“There have been attempts to make other materials, for example concrete, more sustainable, but we prefer working with wood because it’s just inherently sustainable. You don’t have to try to make it something it’s not,” he says.

Focus on impact This is something that the firm tries to bring to all its projects – that simple focus on doing what’s right, not only for the environment but also for the communities they work in. This approach is evident in all EGA projects, from museums and sport stadiums to housing, with one future office building in Malmö being the first to gain NollCO2 certification, verifying that it’s a climate-neutral building. This marks it as one of the most sustainable projects in Sweden, with its wooden frame and biomaterials used throughout – another signature of the firm.

This is especially important when working with different communities the firm may be less familiar with. Its recent work on a community centre in Paris, for example, was done with a clear view of what the residents of the area were in need of. It’s a more holistic way of looking at sustainability: it’s not just about how a project affects the environment, but also about the social aspects and how the project affects the people who interact with it; firstly, in terms of materiality – while wood is easily accessible in Scandinavia, it may still be less so in other parts of the world

– and secondly, an equally important dimension, in how the finished project fits into the community it serves.

“We’re quite an international office, both in terms of the people who work here and in how we work on our projects. When we undertake a project in a country we’re not as familiar with, we make sure to work with local experts. It’s important to collaborate with someone who understands the context from a materials perspective, but also from a cultural perspective,” Giudice explains. “We never want to build anything that seems like it has no connection to the area; we want to make sure that it makes sense alongside everything around it. We’re always introducing innovation and a different way of thinking about things, but it needs to be innovation that makes sense for the area.” Designing for the long term Even on the home turf, there are opportunities for thinking bigger and letting a long-term view influence the project. The eco-quarter in Ile-Saint Denis is one such project, designed by EGA to provide housing for athletes during the 2024 summer games hosted in Paris. It’s a bit of a misnomer to say that athlete housing is what it’s been designed for, as the primary thinking has been around what can be done with the structure after the event is over.

Constructed with a long-term perspective in mind from the outset, the buildings have been designed to easily convert into office space and housing. The design uses modular components that will be easy to remove and reuse. The approach is groundbreaking and provides a new path for the construction industry towards a circular economy.

“We are seeing that this long-term approach, where we are a few steps ahead from the beginning of the project, is highly appreciated by our partners. People are excited about getting onboard and putting our ideas into practice,” says Giudice.

And it’s not just about the firm’s own projects. Its focus on sustainability has informed a directive from the French government that more sustainable thinking and materials need to be used in construction going forward. Likewise, the firm’s work in Sweden is setting the standard for delivering innovation in a sustainable way. Project by project, EGA is leaving a lasting impact on the world.

National Wolesale Market in Nantes. Photo: Luc Boegly The Athletes Village in Paris

Prisma. Photo: Josefin Widell Hultgren

Web: erikgiudice.com Instagram: @ega_erikgiudice_ architects LinkedIn: company/ega---erikgiudice-architects

Left: Eken.Top right: Naked men and women, in movement, on the facade of Eldaren. Right: Using a unique photo scanning process, Monsén Arkitekter were able to recreate exact copies of trees on the facade of HVB Falköping.

Building an architectural story

What story does your favourite building tell you? Founder of Swedish architecture firm Monsén Arkitekter, Daniel Monsén, believes that storytelling is the key to great architecture.

Following an excursion to China after his studies, Daniel Monsén returned to Sweden refuelled and ready to start his own company in 2003. His huge interest in tech made him one of the BIM (Business Information Modelling) pioneers, setting out to make it a standard in his industry.

His dream became reality in 2013, as the wider architecture trade adopted BIM as a digital standard. But tech is not his only passion – he is also passionate about creating buildings that have an opinion. “We need buildings that have context and something to talk about,” he says. “If you can describe your surroundings, you feel safe and secure – you are part of it.”

Monsén and his team travel frequently to find inspiration. Experiencing new cultures and local communities, as well as how they interact, is part of what gives a city a sense of safety, the architect explains. “Cities are formed when people meet and connect,” he reflects. “We need to build a city environment with a focus on experiences and bring back storytelling in our architecture, creating context – and not copies of old buildings, but rather new, super modern buildings, which contain art.”

The power of storytelling One such conversation starter is the building Eldaren, part of the concert and congress hall in Uppsala, north of Stockholm – a project Monsén is especially proud of. The theme for the project was movement. “This became very controversial and provocative for a lot of people,” Monsén recalls. “People started talking about the building, and not because it was big or too high, but because we put characters on the facade. Timeless, naked men and women, in movement, in profile. Some of the reactions were, ‘where are the overweight, the tall people?’ and so on. Somebody even counted 202 men and 198 women – it got pretty messy. At the end of the day, this is the power of storytelling.”

Other interesting projects include Jumbo Stay, an old Boeing 747 airliner turned into a hotel, a stone’s throw from Stockholm Arlanda Airport. This was one of Monsén’s first projects and one which is still being talked about today. “Another example of storytelling,” as the architect himself refers to it.

Asked what inspires him the most, he reveals Oslo as a city and Sydney Opera House as an architectural wonder. “But ask me in a year and I’ll probably tell you something else!”

Web: www.monsenarkitekter.se Facebook: Monsenark Instagram: @monsenarkitekter

Photo: Johan Eldrot

Cecilia Holmström

With inspiration from the world of Tetris, a former parking space has been transformed into a welcoming green plaza, embracing culturally protected office buildings in Solna Strand, outside Stockholm.

‘We can’t consume our way out of the crisis’

Cecilia Holmström tells it like it is. The climate crisis is a fact, but the architects at ÅWL Arkitekter consider it an opportunity. With nature as a tool, they create architectural solutions to heal the Earth.

Construction and property developments are facing the biggest challenge of our time: to solve the climate crisis. Together, the two sectors are responsible for around 21 per cent of total CO2-eq emissions in Sweden, according to the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning.

“Climate change is exhausting and challenging, but above all exciting,” says Holmström, CEO at ÅWL. “Together with builders, entrepreneurs and suppliers, we are creating new systems. We can’t consume our way out of the crisis by tearing down buildings to build new ones, buying electric vehicles or soothing our bad conscience through e-commerce, like media wants us to believe. The solution is to be innovative with what we have.

“For many, climate change is an existential question with consequences in the form of heat waves, forest fires and flooding. It’s heart-breaking when nature protests, but that’s also where the answer is – right in front of us,” emphasises the architect. “Nature has long been regarded mostly as beautifying in architecture, rather than part of the solution. From a bigger, perhaps utopian, perspective, it’s better to leave nature alone. But change can be achieved with simple measures and still make a big difference.”

ÅWL is incorporating nature in city planning and architecture to increase the well-being of the community, but also so that nature’s resources can in turn improve the environment. “By working with nature as a tool, we can solve problems related to our living environment,” Holmström explains. “Less impact on nature is always more desirable. For instance, if we build on virgin land, it’s important to recreate wetlands and work with local water management, rather than investing in concrete culverts underground.” Another example is filling green areas with flowers and trees, which provides better carbon sink and biodiversity than a traditional lawn. Instead of blasting away land, buildings should be adapted to the topography of the site. And instead of building in steel and concrete, which generate high CO2 emissions, nature can assist as a building material through wood. On a smaller scale, sedum can be used on rooftops, which naturally regulates the temperature inside the building – a better solution than high energy consuming systems like air conditioning or heating.

“We need to adjust our mindset,” concludes Holmström. “For too long, smart solutions have helped stakeholders benefit financially at the expense of the climate. Collectively, we need to take responsibility for creating real change. We welcome clients and partners who realise that sustainable solutions are the only economically justifiable solution.”

Web: www.awlark.se Facebook: awlarkitekter Twitter: @AWL_Arkitekter Instagram: @awl_arkitekter

Dubbel Dubbel has Chinese cuisine on the menu and an interior to complement the vibe. Photo: New Order Arkitektur

Interior decorating with creative integrity

How do you create an atmosphere that complements its surroundings without being too obvious, yet is simultaneously bold and in harmony with your client’s vision? This is a balance that architecture firm New Order Arkitektur has mastered.

Who knows, if it were not for the British post-punk band of the same name, New Order Arkitektur might not even exist. Just as influential as the group was in the ‘80s are founders Frida Sjöstam and Victor Alm in their journey to turn ideas and visions into three-dimensional spaces. Whether it’s an office, a beauty salon, a brewery or a hotel, they are up for it, with no project being too small.

“If it’s an office, we need to understand what the business behind it is about, and what its needs are,” says Alm, “and then help the client understand what needs they might have in the future. If we share a vision and a goal, we have the basis for a great project.”

“A client knows what their business is, but our knowledge is how to plan and create their vision in three dimensions,” adds Sjöstam. “How can we challenge them, both spatially and functionally, and help them put it all together?”

In a way, you could describe them as interpreters – interpreting ideas and turning them into areas that rhyme with the client’s needs. But sometimes mere rhyming isn’t the best way to go. One example they bring up is restaurant chains – they lack in personality and “are too generic and a little too easy to code,” as Sjöstam puts it. “We are advocates of the unique,” adds Alm. “We aren’t happy if we see something that looks like everything else. We always strive to take the next step.”

It is clear they have an eye for it, too. Some of their exciting projects include Lynk&Co Club, a showroom, meeting space and boutique for the car sharing company Lynk&Co; a new theme park hotel, Liseberg Grand Curiosa Hotel; and an ultra-modern playground in the heart of Gothenburg.

The Lynk&Co showroom was particularly fitting for New Order Arkitektur, thanks to the company’s unique vision for show-

Left: How do you advertise a car-sharing company without being too obvious? The answer lies in this picture. Photo: Lynk&Co. Right: The adventure playground in Gothenburg. Photo: New Order Arkitektur

Left: An epic hairdo at Studio Epic. Everything you see has been customised – mirrors, storage, even the trolleys. Photo: Daniel Grizelj. Right: Bathroom at the Lynk&Co Club in Antwerpen. Photo: Lynk&Co

casing their product. “It came naturally,” says Alm. “Lynk&Co themselves are pushing to move away from the traditional way of marketing a car, which is probably why we work well together. They want it to feel like a boutique, or a club. You’re not supposed to realise what it is.”

It has obviously been a successful collaboration, to date counting two Lynk&Co Clubs and several pop-up locations throughout Europe. But that’s not all. “Now we’re working on their main offices in Gothenburg, a brand-new building that will house offices like no one’s ever experienced them before,” teases Sjöstam.

The aforementioned playground project is currently in progress and is one they are especially proud of. It is a collaboration with artists Patrik Bengtsson and Daniel EKTA Götesson. “We enjoy collaborating, it’s something that inspires us a lot,” continues Sjöstam. “We love bringing in other sources of expertise. We also invite other architects to get ideas going and introduce fresh perspectives. For this project, we’ve also produced everything. It will be something very unique.”

By the look of things, New Order Arkitektur is not planning to slow its pace anytime soon. 450 rooms, with five beds in each, including market halls, restaurants and a conference centre at the upcoming Liseberg Grand Curiosa Hotel will surely keep the pair busy. This 35,000-square-metre project is a collaboration with YAAM Art & Architecture and is scheduled to open in 2023.

Looking ahead “We want to be a high-quality, compact firm that people come to when they need something specific,” says Alm. “Or if they need an interesting collaboration, whether they are a contractor, an artist or another architecture firm.”

Sjöstam and Alm seem to be the perfect business pairing for the job. Sjöstam’s experience in construction architecture combined with Alm’s résumé, spanning carpentry, interior and furniture design, means they have it all in-house, including a team consisting of ten or so talented people. The fact that the duo has roots in the village of Aneby, nestled in the Swedish woods of Småland – coincidentally the same landscape that inspired a certain Ingvar Kamprad – can only be considered a positive, too.

Web: www.neworder.se Facebook: neworderarkitektur Instagram: @new_order_arkitektur

City Library in Gothenburg. Photo: Bert Leandersson

Architectural landmarks built for the people

Erséus Architects is the studio that doesn’t shy away from a new challenge. Energised by an exciting variation of projects, they have managed to put their distinguishable mark on a number of locations around Sweden, where the human experience always takes centre stage.

The firm has been around since 2002, founded by Peter Erséus with the intention to keep it small and personal. Nearly 20 years later, reality panned out a little different. “I never intended it to expand exponentially, but little by little, our projects have grown in size and the company with it. We’re about 35 employees today, with one office in Gothenburg and one in Stockholm. It’s a good size that really allows us to explore projects around the country, yet at the same time enables us to keep things personal – support between colleagues and close relationships with our clients are essential,” says Erséus.

They put great emphasis on nurturing a dynamic company culture where every-

Interior of Kviberg Crematorium in Gothenburg. one’s voice is heard. Everyone has something to contribute and life-long experience doesn’t necessarily mean you have all the answers – there’s a firm belief here that the best ideas are sprung from a combination of mindsets where each and every individual adds something unique to the final result.

Architecture made for well-being “Our starting and end point for every project is the human being that will spend time in the building and its neighbouring area. How do we enhance well-being for the people that will inhabit the space, the individuals moving inside and around the building? Does it contribute to quality of life, does it encourage creativity?” Erséus asks.

“We want to be the voice for the people who will spend their lives within close proximity to the building, and we believe it’s our responsibility to bring forth the human experience during the

design process,” he explains. Sustainable choices are an integrated part of the firm’s work, and it works thoroughly to achieve environmental grading on all of its projects.

Buildings designed to astonish High-profile buildings play a substantial role in the firm’s portfolio. Through successful participation in architecture competitions, it has been rewarded with the opportunity to influence the cityscape in more than one place. Clarion Hotel Draken will become a defining part of central Gothenburg, where the 34-storey-high edifice will provide the perfect spot for a rooftop bar, top restaurant and conference spaces – a landmark for Gothenburg, where groundbreaking design will serve to enhance the city centre.

Another long-anticipated project intended to replace a water tower with a residential building in the southern city of Växjö was also entrusted to the firm. Its proposal of a tall, black building with balconies facing every direction is now proudly overlooking the city, where the residents can enjoy breathtaking views stretching miles across its surrounding landscape.

And not only do the firm’s projects affect external onlookers, but the architect himself tends to be struck by pinch-me moments too. “We were awarded the project to rebuild and extend the City Library of Gothenburg. It’s located right in the heart of the city, next to its most iconic spot, Götaplatsen. To have one of your own projects there is something else. Something that started like a thought inside our own minds is realised for the benefit of other people. I feel very privileged to do what I do – we have the ability to create, shape and improve the life of many,” Erséus reflects.

The energy of creating something new “Our aim is to break new barriers and to create buildings for purposes we haven’t done before. We would never say no to a job – the more challenging the project, the more alert we become, bringing more energy to the team and onto the drawing table,” says Erséus. One example of first-time challenges is a crematorium designed for the Swedish Church in Gothenburg. How do you create a dignified space, paying respect to the deceased and their relatives, while also creating a room that fulfils its functional purpose? Its many contrasting functions paved way for something of a creative test, and a square-shaped building with slightly concave walls and windows placed in playful compositions, allowing light to flow through a spacious indoor setting, became the answer. Wood, white and black, in stark contrast to one another, provide a space for contemplation, and its design has been awarded and recognised on numerous occasions.

“Our dream project is simply what we haven’t done before. New projects require new ways of thinking, and that is what develops us as architects. An opera house, a football stadium, maybe?” Sounds like yet another landmark may be on the horizon.

Web: www.erseus.se Instagram: @erseusark

Top left: Kviberg Crematorium in Gothenburg. Photo: Bert Leandersson. Bottom left: Clarion Hotel Draken in Gothenburg. Photo: AdoreAdore. Bottom right: Residential Tower in Växjö. Photo: Anders Bergön

Varg Arkitekter has designed a sustainable summer house in northern Sweden. Photo: Varg Arkitekter

Sustainable design, from the small details to the full picture

Stockholm-based Varg Arkitekter raises awareness of sustainable architecture and creative urban planning. Its designs are shaping the future for how we live, work and play.

“Built environments need to be longlasting, functional and loved,” says Inga Varg, architect and founder of Varg Arkitekter. “Following the pandemic, it’s even more important with office environments that are not just workspaces – they need to be changeable and somewhere we also long to come back to.”

One such project is Sthlm 02 in Hammarby Allé, part of Skanska’s investment in Sthlm New Creative Business Spaces, with seven buildings in total, which will have offices for more than 8,000 people when finished. This is the fifth building, developed in response to changeable working conditions and requirements. It will include seven floors with flexible workspaces in an elegant and playful office environment.

“Sthlm 02 is not just going to be offices,” confirms architect Ylva K Rosvall. “We believe in integrating workspaces in a dynamic setting, so this building will also house a lively ground floor with a lounge and a project studio for teams to meet and co-create.”

Tegnér Tower: a small plot in a big city “Our perspective goes from the little details all the way to the full picture,” Rosvall continues. “Projects range from small summer houses to offices such as Sthlm 02, as well as large urban developments and everything in between. The broad range makes for a fantastic mix.”

Tucked in on a small piece of land by the Barnhusbron bridge, at the corner of Tegnérgatan and Hälsobrunnsgatan in the Sabbatsberg district of Stockholm, is a tower clad in green slate and sheet metal that stretches across 11 floors. Tegnér Tower, designed by Varg Arkitekter, was a

finalist in Stockholm Building of the Year 2020, thanks to its architecture, sustainability, innovation and impact on the city.

“The plot was tricky, really small and by a bridge and a street corner, yet we wanted to build something that adapts to the big city,” says Varg. “We are fascinated by how people meet and interact with a built environment, whether it’s an office or a home. It’s important to keep that meeting in mind when designing a building or a space, so that people feel that someone cares.”

Dream houses with minimal environmental impact Varg Arkitekter is currently working on several private houses with high sustainability ambitions. “We look at how new sustainable methods of construction can be implemented,” Varg elaborates. “Our smaller projects are really exciting as they function as a playground where we can experiment with new approaches to construction. Small projects actually help drive the progress in larger-scale developments.”

A good example in the pipeline is a private summer house for Anja Pärson and Filippa Rådin Pärson in northern Sweden, with plenty of sustainability opportunities. To reduce the CO2 footprint, the designers make use of an innovative wooden frame and façade, combined with a foam glass base. Indoors, the house will have a cosy atmosphere with light plywood and carpentry details. The L-shaped building will also have room for a large veranda, a pergola and an outdoor shower with a view of the ocean.

“In the search for more sustainable ways of working, one can get lost in numbers and complicated manufacturing processes,” Varg concludes. “As architects, we must still remember those small details which make places inviting and loved by many generations to come. The buildings we love and choose not to demolish will be the most sustainable in the long-run.”

Web: www.vargarkitekter.se Instagram: @vargarkitekter Follow Anja and Filippa’s dream house on their YouTube channel.

The Sthlm 02 building with flexible workspaces. Photo: Skanska About Varg Arkitekter:

Set up in 2014, Varg Arkitekter is run by architect Inga Varg and associates Kajsa Laring, Jonte Norin and Ylva K Rosvall. Based in Stockholm, the team consists of around 25 people.

Projects are mainly focused around the Stockholm region and range from city planning to accommodation, offices and private houses.

Inga Varg has worked with complex assignments in city planning, architecture and interior design since 1978. She is elected chairman of Stockholm Beauty Council and has been awarded the Kasper Salin Prize, among other awards.

Left: Tegnér Tower tucked in on a small plot in central Stockholm. Photo: Mikael Olsson. Middle: Kallbadhuset, private houses in the south of Stockholm, by Varg arkitekter. Photo: Anders Fredriksen. Right: Anja and Fillipa’s house features an outdoor shower with a view of the ocean. Photo: Varg Arkitekter


The power to improve lives through architecture

What! can architecture do to improve the cityscape and the lives of the people inhabiting the space? Quite a lot, if you ask the team at What! Architecture. Their award-winning projects continuously deliver surprising design created to enhance the quality of life of the people living in and around it.

A smaller team makes for better decisions and more open communication, if you ask the colleagues of What! Architecture. They know it from experience, having been working as a close-knit group from the beginning. 15 architects with expertise in different fields allow the company to provide clients with expert advice throughout the building process, led by company founders Jannika Wirstad and Peter Hulting.

“Being a small team means that everyone can be involved in the entire process, adding their valuable knowledge to our projects that span everything from buildings to landscape design. Communication is easier and more seamless when we’ve got easy access to each other and when hierarchical structures are non-existent; it creates space for open dialogue and an expanded mindset, which eventually seeps through to our clients and our accomplished buildings,” says Wirstad.

An approach infused with analytical and tactful decisions is applied to the projects to reach the client’s vision as well as their own – they are well aware of the impact their buildings and spaces will have on the environment and the people inhabiting the space. Active listening is implemented at every stage – to clients, to residential neighbours, to colleagues – ensuring that every step is one in the right direction.

Surprise! “We chose our name because that’s the reaction that we’re looking for every time; we want our client to be wowed, to feel that something extraordinary has been created in their name. Like, ‘What, this is beyond what we imagined!’. It would be easy to take a simple route and build standardised houses that have proved sufficiently good before, but that doesn’t resonate with us. Our team is abundantly creative, and we want to excel above and beyond every time,” says Hulting.

Ingenious and unexpected solutions are key to solving sometimes tricky structural obstacles, where imaginative ideas become crucial. Putsegården in Gothenburg, Sweden is a great example, where new ideas meet traditional Swedish building design, forging an innovative and previ-


ously unseen residential space. A commission to create a residential building that would allow the preservation of the 18th-century house demanded new ways to see solutions beyond the ordinary: an extension from the original house built with wood stretches into a sheet-covered, extravagantly tilted building that stretches tall in companionship with the surrounding neighbourhood. The original red colour has been transferred to the new extension, and creative play with both shape and details creates a bridge between the past and the present.

Cleverly used materials enabled the firm to reduce costs without reducing the living standard. “It’s not always about the materials that you use, but rather how you use them. By strategically considering the purpose behind every choice, we managed to create a unique building cleverly constructed to fit its purpose, its surroundings and its people,” Hulting explains.

Living spaces from inside and out The firm’s projects stem from a wish to integrate into the area that encapsulates the building. It’s never just about one single house. It’s about how it speaks to its surroundings; it’s about the spaces that allow new meetings and fresh ideas to happen.

One yet to be realised project that was submitted to a competition illustrates the firm’s idea of a house becoming much more than just a space to live: it’s a social space, it’s a co-working space, and it’s a space where people from different backgrounds with different stories meet. Aptly named Giro, for its adaptation to a cycling lifestyle, it’s one of the many examples of how ingenious ideas are met with clever solutions to enrich the everyday life of the inhabitants.

Fixfabriken is another project that is gradually taking shape in the area of Majorna in Gothenburg, a residential neighbourhood where houses along with schools, care homes and social areas are being planned. “It’s a dreamy project, and it’s been with us from the beginning. The size of the project is exciting and we’re fortunate to participate on a long-term basis. We believe in social sustainability, and we are creating an area in tune with the surrounding city, mainly four-storey houses where the spaces in between are carefully constructed to allow life to flow in a natural and healthy way,” says Wirstad.

And speaking of dreamy projects: “we would love to create a bath – we are crazy about water, and a public bath combined with a recreational space where nature and spa facilities meet, perhaps in an old, unused factory building, would be the dream,” says Wirstad with a big smile. No doubt another project destined to surprise.

Web: www.whats.se

Project Putsegården. Photo: Ulf Celander

Bohem, a project in Lorensbergsparken, central Gothenburg.

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.

Sustainable thinking is behind every Esencial creation, like this poetic take on the traditional ‘kallbadhus’ (meaning ‘cold bath house’) in timber.

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.

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 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.

“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. “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

Le Pavillon hexagonal in Paris. Photo: Agnes Clotis Atelje Grytnäs. Photo: Björn Lofterud

Going back to the roots

Building with wood has many environmental benefits, and it’s increasingly becoming a material used in larger building projects. In Praise Of Shadows is an architecture firm that harnesses its qualities to an utmost extent, with a passion for the sustainability and beauty inherent to the material.

Sustainability and interest in wood as a building material were prevalent from day one for Katarina Lundeberg and Fredric Benesch. Having seen a clear development of the industrial wooden techniques around Europe, they were inspired to take the progress and implement it further in Sweden. The studio was founded 12 years ago with a clear aim: to create beautiful buildings where the aesthetics play in harmony with sustainable choices, increasing wellbeing for inhabitants, as well as the nature.

The firm’s project range is intentionally kept broad: the energy that goes into smaller projects circles back into their larger projects. Private houses, housing projects, interior design, exhibitions and public spaces are all on the drawing board. “There are so many benefits of working with wood. Not only is it incredibly beautiful; it’s tactile, constructive, sustainable and can be used as a great substitute for concrete. Circularity is key – we believe in the natural rhythm between the materials and the world they inhabit,” says Benesch.

Projects that unite The studio is part of a greater initiative to bring Swedish wooden design onto an international platform. A pavilion proudly residing in the Swedish Institute in Paris is an example of ingenious upcycled and recycled pieces of wood that have turned into an inspiring room for meetings, made to be deconstructed and used again in another location – a manifestation of creative thinking and collaboration across borders, with the Swedish wood tradition confidently at the centre of attention.

The first Aesop store in Stockholm was decorated with wooden interiors and bestowed with carefully selected pieces of a 100-year-old locally sourced elm tree, creating a balanced synergy between a modern expression and natural tactility. Having constructed a number of private villas, In Praise Of Shadows is now growing its focus on residential buildings. “More entrepreneurs and builders are open to working with sustainable materials, and there’s a real pioneering spirit between everyone involved; we’re in this together for a better world,” says Lundeberg.

With Klockelund, for the client Folkhem, in Stockholm being one of two residential projects launching next year, it’s clear that the interest in building sustainably is growing increasingly serious. The return of wood is here.

Illustration of Klockelund. Photo: In Praise of Shadows

Web: www.inpraiseofshadows.se Instagram: @inpraiseofshadowsark

How to create a room with multiple layers

When decorating a space, most people tend to focus on the big pieces of furniture: sofas, beds, tables and cabinets. After that, we move on to look at smaller décor, including lamps, curtains and artwork. But more often than not, we forget the rugs – and when we do decide to invest in a rug, the limited selection available can often feel unnecessarily expensive or impersonal. This is where Malin Glemme, founder of Layered, comes in. lady demanded that I’d help her through the whole process, and she was being so tricky about it – and I was thinking to myself, ‘hey, I’m doing this for free, maybe I shouldn’t?’. And that’s when I created Layered.”

A year later, Layered was launched, and even though it seemed like a long shot, Glemme never doubted that it would be a success. “A lot of people thought it wouldn’t work, that there wasn’t enough demand, but I could see the gap in the market and have always been good at noticing trends before they happen. Now we are 14 employees and have revenues of 40 million (SEK) this year.”

“My business started when I was moving house and started looking at the rugs available on the market. I wasn’t happy with the selection and the prices. So, I took the matter into my own hands and designed a rug and had it produced,” Glemme explains. “It went so well, and there was a feature in the local newspaper about it, after which I started getting questions from people interested in doing the same thing. I helped everyone as much as I could, until one day, when a Affordable and high-quality Glemme started Layered with a vision: to create affordable, high-quality rugs that

could really make a home. With skills gained as a buyer for H&M, she had the initial tools needed to learn how to operate within a new industry.

“I didn’t know anything about rugs when I started, so I was just following my gut feeling,” she says. “My goal was to create rugs of good value, where you get a quality product that doesn’t cost a fortune. This is why we work so closely with our producers; it means we can keep the prices at a sensible level.”

She adds: “I have also created a great team around me. Last year, I hired a woman who I knew from H&M, and she has been able to take over the executive work so that I can focus on the creative and business development, which is what I do best.”

The layers behind Layered Design Many small businesses have to be dynamic, and you have to, especially if you are the founder, be able to work with every part of the business. But hard work, a good product and a good organisation can create a situation where you no longer need to spread yourself so thin. “I didn’t mind being involved in every part of the business. I appreciated those times as well, but now I have the luxury of having really knowledgeable and experienced people around me, who will do it better than I can, and I can do what I do best,” says Glemme.

The rug industry, as well as the demand for them, has been growing in the past few years, and Glemme predicts that it will continue to do so. “Rugs are becoming more of a statement piece. We used to see a rug the size of a stamp under the table, how crazy is that? Now, people are buying bigger and bigger rugs that can really change a room, which is a new thing in Sweden.”

Inspiration – timeless and original Since its inception, Layered has expanded and now offers other furniture as well, including sofas, armchairs and benches, as well as pillows and blankets. All products differ but have one important thing in common: they are timeless designs that the customer can enjoy for many years.

“I like to sit down to read a magazine and take inspiration from there. It takes you to a different state of mind when you flip through pages rather than scrolling through your phone. And from there, I tear out inspiration that could be developed into patterns,” Glemme says of her inspiration. “But I’d say my greatest source of inspiration comes from travelling. I usually go away twice a year on my own for a few days. It takes me away from all the distractions, and I can spend the plane journey drawing. I think I have drawn more designs on flights than anywhere else.”

But not everyone is as happy with Glemme’s many ideas. “When I go on these trips, I always feel excited, while my team worries that I’ll come back with a million new ideas, in addition to those we’re already working on. I recently went to Copenhagen for three days, and I think that they were actually a bit freaked out,” she laughs.

“The good thing is that I save a lot of designs for the future, and a lot of the time I create something that doesn’t feel quite right. I might need to work on the storytelling around the product, or the design needs some adjustments. So my ideas can go to my bank of potential designs, and I can spare my colleagues some stressful times.”

Web: www.layered.se Instagram: @layered_official

Deep-rooted passion for design

With a strong heritage yet always forward-thinking, Bolon combines art, fashion and architecture with woven designs. This year has seen a new collection with an exciting VR solution as well as made-to-measure design rugs, and the most recent collaboration with renowned designer Patricia Urquiola was launched at Milan Design Week. fantastic designer, and her creativity and never-ending curiosity make a perfect match with Bolon, where we believe that great design is design that lasts,” says Annica Eklund, chief creative officer.

The high-end design collection with four designs is characterised by soft colours and expressive patterns: Grey Sashiko, Light Sashiko, Nude Sashiko and Sage Sashiko. Inspired by the Japanese stitch-

Bolon specialises in innovative and sustainable flooring solutions for public spaces, with clients such as Armani, Google, Four Seasons Hotels, Chanel, Adidas, Apple and Missoni Home. The company has gained worldwide recognition for its award-winning design, superior quality, and collaborations with some of the world’s most acclaimed innovators and creatives.

This year, Bolon has revealed a number of exciting new projects. In January, the new base collection Emerge was released with a special VR tool, a virtual world where the user can explore architectural spaces such as a hotel, a museum or an office, with flooring from the new collection. And for the very first time, Bolon offers made-to-measure design rugs – a great complement to the existing flooring with endless possibilities to choose the right rug for environments and projects not suitable for wall-to-wall installations.

Bolon by Patricia Urquiola, four in one At the recent Milan Design Week, Bolon announced its latest design collaboration with renowned industrial designer and architect Patricia Urquiola. Her addition to Bolon is a modern collection with expressive yet subtle design. “Patricia is a

The Emerge collection was released with a special VR tool.

ing technique ‘sashiko’, the collection features recycled material, has been produced using renewable energy, and has a durability rating of 33, making it suitable for heavy commercial use like in offices, hotels and in retail, where it also adds softness, warmth and neutral elegance.

“Bolon is an exciting brand that has successfully maintained an ambitious design approach in a highly technicalfocused contract business,” designer Patricia Urquiola says in a statement. “It inspired me to explore the interaction between the strong structure of the flooring and its tactile woven expression. I wanted the collection to have a soft textile touch balanced with gentle colours. During the collaborative process, we discovered a resemblance between the Bolon weave and traditional Japanese ‘sashiko’ stitches. We decided to enhance this aesthetic, creating a warm texture appearance. The result is a hard-wearing commercial flooring with a warm, comfortable softness.”

Strong heritage, but always forward-looking The progressive company is managed by sisters Annica and Marie Eklund, the third generation to run this successful, family-owned business. With heaps of passion and commitment, they have challenged conventionality and transformed the traditional weaving mill into a modern, cutting-edge brand. “Bolon is a mix of craftsmanship and innovation, driven by design,” highlights Annica. “We are entrepreneurs at heart. Even though we are the third generation now, this is just the beginning and that’s pretty fantastic!”

The sisters’ grandfather, Nils-Erik Eklund, started the company back in 1949, born from an idea of making use of leftover textiles and creating rag rugs for homes. His son, Lars, took over in 1967 and, from a love of camping, developed awning mats tailored for caravans, which were launched abroad and became a big success in the camping domain. Production eventually expanded to include flooring for offices in 1991, and two years later, the wall-to-wall vinyl flooring was launched. In 2003, the two sisters took over.

Similar to their grandfather, who was ahead of his time, the sisters are keeping the innovative spirit alive and constantly strive to create long-lasting products. “We want to be the leader in environment, technology and design,” Annica emphasises. “Sustainability is a part of our design and something we always keep in mind.”

Bolon has an ambitious goal: that no later than 2028, their floorings will be 50 per cent circular, with half of today’s carbon footprint. All products are designed and manufactured at the facility in Ulricehamn, which also houses a recycling plant that transforms production waste into new floors, and all collections contain recycled material.

Bolon also offers made-to-measure design rugs.

Web: www.bolon.com/en Facebook: bolonofficial Instagram: @bolonofficial Pinterest: bolonflooring

Bolon’s new base collection, Emerge, launched in January. Annica and Marie Eklund. Bolon by Patricia Urquiola.

Light Bureau’s project Under, Europe’s first underwater restaurant. Photo: Tomasz Majewski

A sustainable future – for generations to come

With innovative design solutions for urban environments, workspaces and residential projects, to mention a few, AFRY helps accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society.

AFRY is a global engineering, design and advisory company. In 2019, Swedish ÅF and Finnish Pöyry joined forces under the new name, with almost 17,000 experts covering infrastructure, industry, energy and digitalisation – creating sustainable solutions for generations to come. In architecture and design, the group has more than 500 designers, under a palette of brands within architecture, acoustic design, lighting design, product design, digital design, industrial design and userexperience design.

The same year as the merger, AFRY commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey of more than 5,000 people aged 18 to 35 in six European countries to find out what they want in terms of future cities. During the autumn of 2021, a follow-up survey was conducted, showing the same result. “What was clear before the pandemic and is still true, is that the young generation prefers mid-size cities to mega cities,” says Helena Paulsson, VP and Head of BA Architecture and Design.

Helena Paulsson, VP and Head of BA Architecture and Design. More than half of the respondents prefer to live in a community with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, and they value sustainability highly. One explanation could be that it’s easier to get the life puzzle to match up without long commutes and high living costs, and while being closer to nature. “This is a renaissance for smaller cities, and we are looking at how we can design and build future cities where people thrive and want to stay.”

Inspiring acoustic design “Sound is such an interesting aspect in design and architecture. The aim is not to simply reduce noise, but to use sound as a design feature to enhance visual experiences, increase awareness of functionalities, or improve a physical space,” says Paulsson. “And our audio-branding services help companies to use the power of sound to add meaning to their products or services and increase brand awareness.”

Efterklang, a part of AFRY, delivers award-winning work within acoustics,

vibration and sound design. The team creates unique sound environments, reinforcing emotions and encouraging collaboration, concentration, play and learning. One recent project is Arena Sergel, a co-working space in Stockholm with a focus on well-being. The concept offers flex-work stations, meeting rooms and lounge areas – all with a coherent multisensory theme. The key is a well-balanced interplay between acoustic measures and psychoacoustically anchored sound design, so everyone can choose the sound environment that suits them best.

Another recent commission, Liljevalchs+, opened earlier this year and is an extension to the famous art gallery designed by architects Wingårdhs. Efterklang carried out the acoustic design with great consideration for aspects such as sound insulation and noise reduction. Additionally, the project included room-acoustic design, which aims to optimise sound distribution in the space.

Underwater and park lights AFRY also works with innovative light solutions. One of Light Bureau’s projects is Under, Europe’s first underwater restaurant, using light to promote marine biodiversity while teaching visitors about marine life. Working closely with world renowned architects Snøhetta, Light Bureau developed a lighting design for the restaurant in Norway that extends beyond the interiors and into the water, visually connecting the interiors with the ocean outside.

Light Bureau received the Award of Excellence at the 38th annual International Lighting Design Awards for its design in Kungsträdgården in Stockholm. The new lighting strategy highlights the cultural and historical value of this urban park. The luminaires, made up of two concentric cylinders, are specifically designed for the site and connected to a two-tier control system, allowing the electric light to intertwine with the natural light throughout the day.

Another award-winning project is the playful and dynamic lighting design at The Musicon Path in Roskilde, Denmark. The pump track is designed to create an experience out of the ordinary for cyclists, skaters and bystanders, and the interactive lighting is a flow of water designed to invite people to use the pump track and put it into play at night.

More playful design projects Synvillan, by architects Sandellsandberg, is a nature residence located at Eriksberg in Blekinge. The mirrored villa, an optical illusion, is elevated on pillars and allows visitors to sleep securely surrounded by wild animals. Through a glass panel in the floor, visitors have the chance to see European bison, red deer, fallow deer, mouflon and wild boar that roam freely in the fenced nature reserve. In 2021, the project was awarded with Plåtpriset for its simplicity, playfulness and material choice.

Koncept, another of AFRY’s architecture brands, has designed the interior of Viking Line’s new ship Viking Glory, in operation from 2022. The stylish interior can be described as timelessly innovative and homey, but with a golden touch. There is nothing to obscure the view, and with focus on the full-height panoramic windows to the surrounding archipelago, you always get front-row seats.

Interior of Viking Line’s new ship Viking Glory, design by Koncept. Photo: Koncept

Web: www.afry.com Facebook: afryofficial Instagram: @afry.official

A growing hub for the top communicators of tomorrow

Berghs School of Communication is known for its high-quality, award-winning education, which is run in close collaboration with the industry. The school has recently moved to a redeveloped industrial area, where it continues to grow its creative hub.

Berghs educates the top communicators of tomorrow, and the students who have attended are sought after, with more than 90 per cent getting a job in their field of study withing six months of graduation. Part of the secret is action-based learning and integration between students and the industry. The entrepreneurial model is based on four pillars: full-time education programmes in areas such as strategic communication, digital design and art direction; courses in current topics for people who want to improve skills such as copywriting; international offerings in collaboration with partner schools; and tailormade business solutions on demand.

Communication and businesses can make a difference. “We are an impact company with a triple bottom-line approach, which means that we want to make a social, environmental and financial difference,” Camilla Wallander, CEO of Berghs, explains. “Education is crucial for the future of businesses so that they can grow, innovate and build sustainability for long-term profitability. We make sure that our programmes and courses are current, that they include real-life experience, and that students and professionals can build their own networks.”

The school recently moved to Gasverket, an old industrial area undergoing redevelopment. “It’s an authentic area with a focus on sustainable development, one of the largest city planning projects in Europe, and we are excited to be part of shaping a new community here,” says Wallander. Berghs now resides in Gasverket, every year welcoming some 800 industry leaders, hundreds of students and thousands of participants in industry courses, as well as offering co-working spaces to rent. “It’s a fantastic space where we can grow our hub of creativity and knowledge.”

International partnerships “This school is a beautiful gem,” says Marco Ortolani, director of international business at Berghs. “It’s a Swedish success, but also relevant in the international world of design. We look at design in a broad way, not just communication, but also interaction, user experience and motion design, to name a few. The user-centred approach, with practicality and informality at the core, is extremely valuable, and also internationally, too.”

In addition to former and current students, the school’s network consists of industry experts, agencies and businesses, as well as partner schools around the globe, such as Ravensbourne University in London and Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “Our students can complete their degrees at one of our partner schools, or students can come and finish their studies here,” says Ortolani. “We run courses in collaboration and share trends from around the world. It’s a fun process of contamination and cross-pollination.”

The format is flexible with courses onsite as well as online, where students and teachers can tune in from anywhere. Ortolani emphasises that the school is always challenging its education format. “Berghs is a gateway to the industry, and students and professionals reach out to us expecting the action-based learning that we’re known for, but we continue to challenge and blend approaches, accelerate the offerings online and also onsite at different destinations.” Award-winning education It’s been a successful journey with numerous awards, including the AKQA Future Lions School of the Year Award on several occasions. And One Show’s prestigious student competition, The Young Ones, has been a big win for Berghs in the last three years. The school claimed Best in the World in the Brief category and landed third place overall by collecting the most points. In addition, the top-four most awarded students in this year’s The Young Ones are all students from Berghs.

This year, the school celebrates its 80th anniversary. “We are proud of 80 years with a proven educational concept, but we are also looking forward and continue to develop,” says Wallander, who also reveals that new courses are in the pipeline for the coming spring. “The way we work, live and build sustainable cities is changing. We have looked into industries with a future need for competence and identified urban planning and design. We will continue to grow our meeting place for creativity and synergies to build competence for the future.”

Photo: Hilda Randulv

Web: www.berghs.se www.berghs.com Facebook: BerghsSoC Instagram: @berghs LinkedIn: school/ berghs-school-of-communication

Photo: Hilda Randulv

Photo: Hilda Randulv

Walls of life

Born from the curiosity to explore what’s possible, Butong is on a mission to change built environments. Concrete panels of a patented material with the same name have placed Butong as industry leaders, and role models too. Offering vertical gardens with a strong emphasis on sustainability, this business is showing the world what growing architecture looks like – literally.

The material, also called Butong, is made by pressing a cast substance between two sheets of bubble wrap, creating two mesh-structured panels. It’s light, versatile and cost effective. “Our method saves up to 80 per cent of the raw material by replacing it with air. We end up with a CO2-optimised façade product that can be used with or without plants,” explains Lars Höglund, CEO at Butong.

The concrete panels can be formed and coloured to fit a specific design and come with little need for maintenance. No wonder they’ve become highly sought-after among property owners, both in Sweden and internationally.

It’s not all about maintenance though. What makes Butong special is the environmental focus and impact of both brand and product. Höglund and his colleagues strive to keep their global footprint at a minimum, being responsible in every part of the process. Butong as a material has the power to help reduce rising temperatures in cities, improve air quality, reduce noise and even support biological diversity.

Reflecting on the brand’s booming popularity, Höglund has a theory. “I think the increased interest goes hand in hand with cities growing bigger and becoming more crowded. To have organic life in our cities, we need to think vertically instead of horizontally, and that’s where we come in.” This is all part of a bigger brand vision, where vertical parks and walls of entire neighbourhoods are bursting with life.

To find bespoke solutions for each client, Butong works closely with architects. This is a win-win partnership where a client receives a product tailored for their needs, while architects get a chance to be expressive and wear their creative hats. Passion goes into every single project and the results speak for themselves.

Facing the challenges of the future, Butong inspires creative solutions that go way further than the borders of their industry. They believe that the sterile walls of today will vanish to be replaced by the living, breathing cities of tomorrow – and we’re all invited along on the journey.

Butong is changing the world with vertical gardens.

Web: www.butong.eu Instagram: @butong.concrete. innovation

Erik Martinson.

The power is in our hands

Svea Solar has an ambitious goal: to provide Europe with solar power for all. In an era when the shift from fossil fuel is more imperative than ever, the company provides what is perhaps not a full silver bullet, but a big proportion of it.

As a company, Svea Solar is well on its way on the trajectory to become the biggest solar power provider in Europe. Founded by two friends, Erik Martinson and Björn Lind, on the day after their university graduation in 2013, the company has grown at an exponential speed. With over 500 employees, it is currently supplying solar power to Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, with no intention of stopping there.

Svea Solar’s solution is rooted in a holistic viewpoint, where a focus on communities across national borders is part of the foundation. “It’s a European electricity grid. It’s a scale game where growth is key: the more users that are connected to the grid, the more advantageous it will become. It’s an elastic system where our users can choose to store or feed back their surplus energy into the grid to supply power to the network,” Martinson explains. This way, there will always be energy available promptly, whether you live in a sunny area or not. In conjunction with wind and water power, it’s a collaborative effort to provide a renewable system across countries.

The architectural advantage Bold plans come with bold statements. “Architects have a crucial role in defining how we should live our lives. A huge responsibility, right? If we want our future to be a better version of today, solar energy needs to become a much more integrated part of the architectural design process,” says Martinson. “Considering that the evolution of renewable energy sources will only increase in pace, environmental and commercial success will depend on whether you’re adapting to the progress or not.”

Currently providing power to residential buildings, housing cooperatives, agriculture, businesses and solar parks, where solutions are flexible depending on the project, Martinson asserts that the notions of solar power being expensive and unaesthetic are outdated. Solar power is becoming more price effective than the alternatives, and solar panels can be tailored to the surface and surroundings.

In the end, what motivates them? “We genuinely believe that solar power is the most efficient tool and greatest weapon to fight climate change. Our vision is to, as soon as possible, eliminate fossil fuels. Full stop.”

Web: www.sveasolar.com Instagram: @sveasolar LinkedIn: Svea Solar

Right kolor at the right place

We’re constantly surrounded by colours, yet sometimes it’s tricky to grasp their relationship to one another. What makes yellow turn into brown, and why doesn’t pink fly well with red? Kolormondo is the one-of-a-kind colour globe that helps you understand the patterns and connect the dots between the hues.

Nicoline Kinch is an entrepreneur who fell in love with the science behind colour during a course on chromatics. “I finally understood how colours relate to each other, but I realised there wasn’t anything on the market that could explain it in a pedagogical manner,” says Kinch.

She decided to take matters into her own hands. Using the Bauhaus scholar Johannes Itten’s colour star, she created something one ingenious step further: “To truly understand the distance and relationship between places on earth, you need a globe – and I believe the same is true for colour. I developed the colour globe with three dimensions: colour hue, brightness and saturation, going from white in the north to black in the south and from light grey in the middle spreading out to the saturated, coloured edges.”

Kolormondo comes in a physical and a digital version and is used in a number of industries where colour is crucial. It’s used by artists, architects, designers, hairdressers and university lecturers alike, but also in more surprising trades – sugar production being one of them. Colour affects everything in our daily lives, and Kolormondo is aiming to help more people out there to comprehend the interrelations between the countless variations. Oh, and it looks pretty nifty on your shelf, too.

Web: www.kolormondo.com Instagram: @kolormondo

Left: Kolormondo globes, mixed sizes. Photo: Jan Zettergren. Right: Kolormondo used by professionals. Photo: Stina Gullander