LAND arkitektur: Sundbyberg’s centre lacks a larger central meeting place to gather its residents and visitors. The structure is instead made up of smaller places, squares and parks that are woven together with the city’s streets. The street space in Sundbyberg therefore plays a central role in the public space. In 2013, LAND and Sundbyberg city developed guidelines for the design of Sundbyberg’s public spaces. The street and its relation to Sundbyberg’s sites and buildings have shaped the design principles for central Sundbyberg’s urban space. The street becomes the city’s base and manages transitions and connections between buildings and spaces that carry different content and form. The principles are also intended to be used when property owners develop their portfolio so that they can give something back to the city in harmony with the public space.
In 2014, one of Sweden’s largest banks moved its headquarters from a central location in Stockholm’s inner city to a strategic communication location in the Sundbyberg municipality. Humlegården properties had invited a number of architectural offices to a competition to solve the new establishment. 3xN architects and LAND Architecture designed and planned the new office and its relationship with the city. The project has created a new meeting point in Sundbyberg. What could easily be perceived as a strictly corporate business with a high security rating has now become a public part of the city.
Based on the design principle that the street is Sundbyberg’s interconnected public space, where smaller places create meeting points in relation to the street, the area surrounding Swedbank’s new headquarters took shape. The project was no longer about creating an entrance area to a bank but rather what contribution this establishment could provide to the city’s public spaces.
Swedbank’s head office is located on a plot between the train track area in Sundbyberg’s center and Landsvägen, which runs through Sundbyberg’s municipality and connects this with Stockholm and Solna. The office also connects to a new bridge for the tramway. Humlegården real estate and Sundbyberg city took joint responsibility for developing both the public land and the neighbourhood land. A design concept was developed that did not consider the formal boundaries of ownership, but one where the whole space and experience of the urban space acted as the starting point. The location around the office creates a widening of the public street space and encourages passage and recreation. The boundary between the private and the public has been blurred. The site also handles level differences between the adjacent street and the office’s elongated ground floor. Altitude differences have consistently been met with the ambition to promote free flow across the site. Stairs that emphasise the levels form a clear shape of a sharp border in material meetings and topography while allowing a sweeping movement for those who visit the site. Along Landvägen you can move on a pavement with walking and cycling paths or you can choose a parallel walking path along the office in a quieter pace between large perennial plants that both provide greenery to the street and handle parts of the drainage around the office. The plantings are created with clear seasonal changes with an ambitious bulb planting program in the spring that turns into a perennial-dominated character in the summer with a period of fragrant lilies. The plantings provide a strong graphic effect as well as a fragrance experience to the street.
The project was executed using natural stone where the same diabase slabs form floors for the interior and exterior of the office building. This area also describes the parts that are open to the public. The entire ground floor of the building is open to the public. Art is exhibited in the entrance and a restaurant has its lunch service here. The diabase-clad ground meets the pavement’s small paving stones in a sharp line and manages the level of the office and how it connects with the street. The small paving stone relates to the heights of the street and defines it. South of the building on a block of land, a space with ‘Ornäs’ birches and sitting benches has been created for the bank’s employees as well as the public. North of the building, the municipality has created a pocket park with perennials and a large oak tree. This provides a green backdrop against the tramway bridge and a framing for the restaurant’s outdoor dining area.
Looking at the city’s different areas from a holistic perspective opens up to solutions where the private and public space can meet and blend together. Through this, areas can be perceived as larger, in a city that is becoming increasingly denser. This method may not be desirable to use as a general principle in the city, but in dense urban centers dominated by office environments and trade, this provides an opportunity to give more space to the city’s inhabitants – a gesture to invite the public and become more inclusive. The role of the street as an interconnecting element, instead of being a transport route, can become the public web that holds the city’s different areas together, regardless of ownership conditions.
Project name: Swedbank Headquarters
Short office name: LAND arkitektur
Role of the office in the project: Landscape architect
Client: Humlegården Fastigheter AB
Contractor: Delta Trädgårdsanläggningar AB
Project location: Sundbyberg, Sweden
Design year: 2012-2013
Year Built: 2013-2014
Area: 3.000 m2