The old silo at Norra Älvstranden was a well-known profile on Göteborg’s skyline. It is now to be replaced with a residential block. We won this prestigious competition with our proposal ‘Silo x IV’, a shimmering white exclamation mark that will become one of Göteborg’s most attractive buildings with magnificent views over the harbour and the city.
“We want Göteborg’s citizens to be able to locate the site and to recognise where they are,` says Ulla Antonsson who, together with Mattias Lind, is behind the winning proposal ordered by JM.
In an edited version of the programme proposal, the architects themselves describe their vision:
Norra Älvstranden in Göteborg is a historic piece of Swedish industrial land. The large Juvelkvarnen structure has long had a natural place in this landscape alongside the large shipyards.
We believe that a new building has to be as forward-looking now as the industry in Norra Älvstranden was then, in order to succeed in conveying the history of the site. By thinking along new lines and using the opportunities offered by modern technology, we can refer back to the spirit that once laid the foundations for Norra Älvstranden’s successes.
Around the country, certain well-known types of building recur on a regular basis. The grain silo is one of these characteristic elements that help us to recognise where we are. The characteristic, distinctive features can provide inspiration for a replacement worthy of the site.
The old silo is being demolished, but its memory will remain. The purpose is changing, but there is a character that can provide inspiration. The impression is solid and it has a scale that is difficult to identify – it is almost beyond scale.
We do not want to make a new grain silo, but we are happy to gain inspiration from both the industrial thinking and the functional design of the existing building. The solution we are proposing must be flexible, rational and adapted to production requirements, and it can also contain technical challenges. A building that looks forwards, not back.
We have chosen to work with circular shapes, but on a scale that produces beautiful and functional accommodation. A round form offers maximum views – a panoramic perspective. A round form also draws light and shadow in a living way.
The new building should be perceived as a powerful figure in the cityscape. It is the same height as the old silo, which works well with the other tall buildings in the vicinity that are rising up over the surrounding area.
We believe that the key to a successful solution for this location is based on order, repetition and accuracy as regards the volume. The intention is that from distance the building should be easy to make out and should feel homogeneous, while depicting a rich interplay of light and shadow from closer up.
The building comprises four cylinders, each containing one or two apartments per floor, joined by bridges on each floor which comprise the stairwell. All functions, including the apartments’ terraces, will be housed within the curved façade so that the volumes are kept intact. We have opted for a strict subdivision of the façade, a banding that from distance will form a pattern rather than stacked units. The top of the building is distinct.
The cylinders jointly form a rhomboid, which fits in well at the site and takes into account the sightline that cuts through the planned residential buildings to the north.
The resilient, crown-like concrete foundations that bear the four buildings allow visibility at eye level and create transparency on the ground.
The design of the ground level follows the cylindrical shape, with circles stamped into the sloping ground. The two northerly circles are covered with evergreen artificial grass, while the two southerly circles are water mirrors that reflect the sunlight up into the faceted constructions.
In their basic version, all the apartments are open-plan volumes with few locks. The entrance, bathroom/WC and kitchen all have a natural place. The remainder of the area provides considerable potential for the residents to adapt the accommodation to their own wishes. Each apartment has a terrace that is bordered by glass from floor to ceiling, so that the volume within the cylinder’s outer walls is perceived as a continuous room.
The views are fantastic, even from the lower floors. This is a unique quality that has governed the plans.
As a complement to the accommodation, the roof floor has been developed into a shared recreation area. A relaxation department with a sauna and gym will open out onto large terraces, which are finished off with a sunken pool at the spot with the very best views.
Like its predecessor, the building will be made in gleaming white, with white-pigmented concrete as the dominant material in the ground level constructions and the load-bearing walls inside the building. It is proposed that the outside of the cylinders will have a metal surface with a slight lustre, such as white anodised aluminium.
The apartments are designed with warm wooden surfaces on the floors and ceilings. Between these surfaces, everything else will be as gleaming white as the rest of the building.