Kiruna, Sweden, is a small town on the edge of the Arctic Circle that exists almost solely to serve the world’s largest iron ore mine. After over a century of aggressive mining, however, soil subsidence, sinkholes, and other geologic anomalies are threatening to destroy the town. Facing this dire future, local officials crafted a 100-year plan in 2004 with Stockholm, Sweden–based White Architects to gradually relocate the 18,000-resident settlement 2 miles to the east. The plan will transform Kiruna into a collection of urban neighborhoods interspersed with arctic landscape and parks. Central to that vision is the idea that the government and its citizens must work together closely and transparently to ensure an equitable transition. Danish architects Henning Larsen, tasked with turning this ethos into built form, have delivered by crafting a democratic new city hall that wraps stacked public spaces with humdrum municipal offices. Henning Larsen partner Louis Becker said, “We knew that losing a sense of place could be a major challenge to the town’s residents. Our hope is that this town hall is not only an effective seat for the local government, but a space that celebrates Kiruna’s history and establishes an enduring symbol of local identity.” In order to meet these goals, the new town hall is designed to have a somewhat divergent relationship with the structure it is replacing. For one, the original town hall—faced with red brick and designed in a pragmatic Nordic modernist style in 1958 by Swedish architect Arthur von Schmalensee—was much more stoic than its golden, vertically oriented, stone- and metal-clad replacement. Whereas the original was organized as a series of repetitive slabs, the new structure is more donut-shaped in section and features a new county art museum at its core. To foster a connection between old and new, an iconic rooftop clocktower from the original town hall was saved and is now installed beside the new building. There, it will anchor a generous outdoor plaza that will one day be framed by offices and apartments. The spare steel and metal clock tower is topped with bells and features a gold-rimmed timepiece, an element the architects tapped into as inspiration for the new structure, which is faced inside and out with 5,600 golden metal panels. On the ground floor of the building, a cafe, restaurant, and large public meeting room encircle a multistory foyer complete with a public stage. The space, designed to function as a giant living room for the city’s residents, is topped by a staggered central core that frames a soaring atrium wrapped with offices. The interior catches the subarctic light as it beams in from overhead transom windows and bounces off the golden walls. On the fifth floor, a double-height council assembly room is outfitted with public viewing stands and joined by several large gathering areas and a canteen. Each living room, framed by high walls covered in the aforementioned metal panels, is filled with tables and chairs oriented around picture windows that peer out over the landscape. As is the case with the ground floor public spaces and the circular walkways that overlook the atrium, the upper levels offer cozy, domestic qualities. Here, the golden walls mimic the qualities of wood while long, curved handrails made of oak and salvaged door handles (repurposed from the original city hall) bring tactile warmth to some of the most immediately accessible aspects of the building. The result of the redesign is a series of welcoming public spaces that will give Kiruna residents the opportunity to keep an eye on their drastically changing city both from the ground and up above.
Posts tagged with "Henning Larsen Architects":
Copenhagen-based firm Henning Larsen Architects recently finalized The Wave apartment complex in Vejle, Denmark, that features five interconnected, undulating towers that reflect in the fjord beside it. Its unique form is inspired by the dramatic landscape of the area, known for its deep inlets and steep, rolling hills, which are uncommon in Denmark. The eye-catching Wave, which stands out from the ubiquitous office buildings and historic, red brick buildings of downtown Vejle, serves as a distinctive sculptural landmark of the city. Construction of the 150,000-square-foot, 100-unit complex began over a decade ago, but it was stalled due to the 2008 global financial crisis. After a tumultuous 11 years, the rippling building is complete and has garnered widespread attention for its architectural tribute to Vejle’s local geography and cultural heritage. Even before its completion, the towers were named Residential Building of the Year by Building in 2009 and won an ABB Leaf Award and Prestigious Civic Trust Award in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Unlike the pace of construction, the apartment units are selling at a breakneck pace. According to the building’s website, three of the “waves” are already completely sold out, and only seven units remain overall. A 2,700-square-foot duplex on the top floor is still available, with an asking price of roughly $2 million.
The University of Cincinnati (UC) has broken ground on what will be the first U.S. project for Denmark-based Henning Larsen Architects. The 225,000-square-foot Carl H. Lindner College of Business will take two years to build at a cost of $120 million. Henning Larsen’s design focuses on encouraging interaction and allowing for future flexibility. Specifically designed to work with UC’s West Campus master plan, the building will be a central meeting place for the entire campus. As a nexus of activity, the project is boarded by a new transit stop, the Campus Green, a bustling pedestrian way, the campus Library, and a new plaza. The ground floor interacts with the Campus Green's landscaped mounds and numerous pedestrian paths through varied stepped levels. The green roofscape continues the connection with the surrounding campus via multiple lookout points, all varying in height to address neighboring structures. The roof's curving lines also make reference to the pedestrian paths below. Large open-air atria puncture the four-story building at different levels, bringing in light and air to the heart of the project. The interior space planning aims to bring faculty, students, and the greater Cincinnati business community together. Public functions fill the completely transparent ground level. A lecture hall and auditorium make up the largest programmed spaces, while a seating staircase and indoor and outdoor furniture allow for more informal meetings. Quieter spaces line some of the atria, allowing students to work under natural light. Along with a goal of achieving LEED Gold Certification, the project utilized Henning Larsen’s dedicated sustainability specialists throughout the entire design process. The team analyzed everything from wind forces to solar loads and local microclimates. Simulations based on that data were used to inform the form and orientation of the project. Henning Larsen has lead the design of the project while Cincinnati-based KZF Design is acting as architect of record. The design was chosen through a competition, with the Henning Larsen/KZF team beating out a shortlist that included Foster+Partners . The competition was part of the University’s Signature Architecture Program, which has helped bring work by the likes of Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, and Thom Mayne to the campus.
High-Style Hacks: Bjarke Ingels, Henning Larsen, and Norm Architects tweak an Ikea flat-pack classic
Danish kitchen purveyor Reform has enlisted Bjarke Ingels, Henning Larsen Architects, and Norm Architects to put their spin on a mainstay of Ikea's kitchen designs, the Metod. While the architects' work is confined to surface treatments and small details, the results definitely elevate the kitchen above the generic flat-pack model. Bjarke Ingles and BIG added a loop of seatbelt webbing to the drawers and doors. Henning Larsen Architects accented the cabinets with strips of contrasting or coordinating metal. Norm Architects created a waterfall counter to frame door/drawer panels made of bronzed tombac, fiber-concrete, or smoked or sawn oak. The kitchens will be available in September 2015.