<University Building, Malmö, 2003–2005


The building for the teacher training center and the main library at University Malmö is called Orkanen (Swedish for hurricane), a name that reflects its location on one of Malmö’s harbor island. The building serves to mediate between the harbor and the city center and reflect the university’s greater proximity to the city following its reorientation. Diener & Diener’s master plan, developed in 1997, sets out the framework for the harbor’s transformation. It proposes grouping the faculty buildings as individual conglomerations. These groupings mirror the organic changes evident on industrial yards as they adapt to the company’s requirements. Though these new buildings can be identified as sites of learning, they remain true to the industrial character and identity of the harbor and its dockyards.

The university building was conceived as the fountainhead for these ensuing developments. It was developed in collaboration with an investor who had agreed a 20-year lease with the university. For the duration of this lease, the university will use the building for its teacher training and as a main library. Both the building itself and its internal structure were devised in a manner that would allow future changes of use to be achieved without extensive adjustments. The architectural site offers an exemplary expression for the idea of how conglomerate buildings can grow and develop over time.

The building, 147.60m long, has five courtyards that structure it. The first floor is a permeable space that opens out onto the street on the west and the harbor on the east. The public university space share this floor, which has a cafeteria along with the main lecture hall and the assembly hall. The different lecture halls and the workspaces are located on the upper floors, while the main library occupies the entire top floor. Numerous small angles and a rhythmic design, reflective of the open concept organizing the interior spaces, characterize the building’s façade. It is possible to extend the building seamlessly in separate phases simply by building additional wings.

The façade is a layer made of rippled raw glass with a green tint; the windows form bands that run the entire width of the building. Aluminum panels covering the building’s insulation are placed behind the glass panels. Together with the rippled texture of the raw glass, these cause the intense reflection and refraction of the light. As the building is seen from different angles, the letters of a permanent artistic installation appear behind the glass panels. When the light and the weather changes over the course of the day and the seasons transient patterns are created and reflected on the glass surface, becoming an integral part of the façade’s design. In so doing, the architecture establishes a relationship to its site that extends beyond the building and gains atmospheric dimensions.

Competition: Masterplan University Harbour, 1st prize, 1997
Date: 2000—2005
Client: DIL Nordic AB und Deutsche Bank
Location: Nordenskiöldsgatan 10, Malmö, Sweden
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 43.500 m²
Use / Function: study rooms, auditorium, sports hall, café, library, administration, underground parking
Structural Engineer: Centerlöf & Holmberg
Mechanical Engineer: Sycon Tecknikkoinsult
Façade Consultant: Feldhaus Fenster + Fassaden, Emsdetten, Flex Fassader, Örebro (Fassade)
Local Architect, Interior Design: Fojab Arkitekter
Landscape Architect: Per Friberg

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