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Bank Headquarters Highlight Structure, Open Views
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A rendering of the new offices of the new bank headquarters are located atop two-story, glass-enclosed lobbies that encourage interaction with those at street level
The offices of the new bank headquarters are located atop two-story, glass-enclosed lobbies that encourage interaction with those at street level. © Adam Mörk, Courtesy of 3XN

The new headquarters’ building for Stockholm, Sweden-based Swedbank is based around a folded triple-V floor plate that provides views and openness to all workspaces.

June 24, 2014—The new headquarters for the Stockholm, Sweden-based Swedbank opened earlier this month, nearly 2,000 employees moving from their downtown location to Sundbyberg, a suburb of the city. Emphasizing transparency and simplicity to create a dynamic social environment, the folded “triple-V” floor plate of the six- to nine-story structure offers wide views and open workspaces for all of the bank’s employees.

The 45,000 m2 structure contains 35,000 m2 of office space, 10,000 m2 of belowground parking, and 2,500 workspaces. A total of five atriums located on either side of the folded-V floor plates provide expansive interior space for employees to enjoy; elevated footbridges cross the atriums, connecting the legs of Vs, while two circular staircases with radii of 3 to 4 m descend the atriums to connect the floor levels to one another. A central internal corridor on each floor offers an additional connection point that enables employees to travel from one area to another.

Despite being on the outskirts of the city, the site is still well connected to the public transportation infrastructure, according to Jeanette Hansen, the project architect for Copenhagen-based 3XN, the design architects for the building. The site is long and narrow, bounded on one side by train tracks and on the other by a road.

To unify the building, the architects wrapped the facade in diagonal steel, glass, and solid steel

To unify the building, the architects wrapped the facade in
diagonal steel, glass, and solid steel. Engineers used the
diagonal steel to stabilize the building.
© Adam Mörk,
Courtesy of 3XN

The office spaces are located atop a two-story lobby, which creates visual interest as passersby along one side of the structure observe activity within the ground level lobby, auditoriums, and restaurant. On the other side of the structure, the arrangement minimizes the distractions of the rail line for employees within the building. The roof height varies as the structure rises from six to nine stories, and the top three levels are stepped inward to create multiple roof terraces for employees.

The building is founded on hard rock, according to Conny Höggren, a structural engineer in the Stockholm office of Hillstatik AB, and the chief structural engineer for the project. “In Stockholm, in some places we have hard rock, and in some place we have clay,” he says. “But this building stands on hard rock, so it’s quite easy to fix the foundation for it.” A two-story prefabricated concrete substructure, which contains the building’s parking, acts as the foundation for the building, he says.

Aboveground, the building is made of steel with hollow-core concrete slabs, according to Höggren. There is 15 m free span between columns. “The whole idea with that superstructure is to make a quick assembly on-site, because there is a tight time schedule to assemble the whole building,” Höggren says. Because of the cold climate and extended winter months, quick construction and the use of prefabricated building elements is the norm in Scandinavia, he explains. 

At the same time, this was not a typical Scandinavian structure, Höggren is quick to point out. “This is a design building. It is not a normal office building,” Höggren says. “It’s quite common in Sweden to try to hide the superstructure. We don’t want to show it. But in this building it was a big part of the design, to show the superstructure.”

“Our vision was to offer [the bank] something completely different from what they had, and thereby compensate for the move to the suburbs, which I think for some of the employees was quite a big change,” Hansen says. The design focused on creating a pleasant and efficient workspace for the employees, and the wide-open atriums combine expansive openings with the more intimately-scaled pockets containing work stations within the folded-V floor plates, she says.

“We wanted to make sure that a lot of the people would have a view to the outside,” Hansen says. “And instead of just having linear blocks along the site, we angled them so people would have a view through the atrium space, and out through the facade.” Angling the office blocks in this manner also allowed daylight to reach much further into the building than would have otherwise been the case, she notes.

While the previous headquarters building featured office spaces that were shared between two and four employees, the new building has been designed to connect people within departments to an even greater degree. “I think it will achieve a much more sense of being a united workplace because you will be able to see the other people whom you work with,” Hansen says. “And you won’t be so enclosed in your little world.” 

Two circular staircases with radii of 3 to 4 m descend the atriums to connect the floor levels to one another

Two circular staircases with radii of 3 to 4 m descend the atriums
to connect the floor levels to one another. Each twist of the stair
is slightly offset from the previous one.
© Adam Mörk, Courtesy
of 3XN

The visual openness will extend beyond the departments that are located on the same floor. “We work a lot of with these [types of] open atriums, and we also thought this openness internally in the building around the atrium was important for the people to visually be able to connect with their fellow colleagues on the other floors, so that you get a sense of community within the building,” Hansen says.

Of the two circular staircases that descend through the atriums, one has been widened at various points to provide informal meeting spaces for people to stop and chat, according to Hansen. Each twist of the stair is slightly offset from the previous one. “We wanted the two staircases, [to be] similar, but by offsetting the shorter, lower one we still created two different sculptures within the two different atriums,” Hansen says.

Vibration of the stairways was a concern, according to Höggren. The steel stairways were tied in to the steel of the hollow-core floor plates at each level and were designed to prevent deflections even if the stairs are full of people dancing to music. “It is almost a solid steel structure—a lot of steel was needed to prevent deflections,” Höggren says. “Yesterday, we had a grand opening for the building. We had live music, [and] a lot of people standing on the stairs and jumping. So that was really a test for the stairs and it worked perfectly.”

To unify the building, which contains numerous corners due to the folded-V floor plates, atriums, and rooftop terraces, the architects wrapped the facade in diagonal steel, glass, and solid steel sections. “We thought that wrapping the diagonal around it would be easier for us to have the feeling that it was a unit instead of a lot of little blocks,” Hansen notes. The atriums’ facades continue the same diagonal detailing to visually tie them to the office sections, she says.

Engineers used the exterior diagonal steel to stabilize the building, according to Höggren. “We don’t prefer to use that type of bracing, if we have a choice, but in this case the architect wanted to have that type of design,” he says.

The belowground cast-in-place concrete work was done during the summer months, as is usually the case in Scandinavia, Höggren says. The steel aboveground building was erected during the winter months.

The owner of the building is Humlegården Fastigheter, and the Stockholm offices of the following firms contributed to its design and construction: P O Andersson Konstruktionsbyrå AB and Ikkab conducted structural engineering along with Hillstatik; landscape architecture was provided by LAND Arkitektur; most of the interior design was completed by Tengbom, (3XN designed the foyer, the restaurant, and the café); project management was provided by Forsen Projekt; and BSK Arkitekter served as the local architect.


 

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