Navet & Lindholmen designed by White Architects

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Right up to the early 1970s, Gothenburg was one of the world’s leading shipbuilding cities. Then along came the crisis in shipbuilding, with dramatically reduced demand and a global restructuring of the entire shipbuilding industry. The city was posed with a very serious challenge – and chose to invest in skills development.

Since the late 1980s, White has been participating in the planning and construction of approx 150,000 m2 at Lindholmen, part of the Norra Älvstranden districts. Now, in the old shipbuilding and harbour area, education is being blended with research, homes, industry and culture, with Lindholmen Science Park as the central focal point. The whole undertaking is a collaborative venture between the City of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Gothenburg, and industry including companies such as Volvo, Saab, Ericsson and SVT. Around 30,000 people are estimated to be employed within the district.

Along with the Gothenburg City Planning Office and Norra Älvstranden Utveckling AB, White has been working gradually on structural planning, programme writing and detailed planning including quality programmes.

At present we are working on the detailed planning of central Lindholmen, to enable meeting places to be linked together and created between the different parts of Lindholmen. In 2008, we developed an outline plan for the central areas in a collaborative project with the City Planning Office, Chalmers and Älvstranden Utveckling AB. We are also working on the project design of Lindholmen’s Pier 3, with around 20,000 m2 which, along with our earlier Navet project, form the central buildings of the Lindholmen Science Park.

The Navet building is located in the intersection point between Campus Lindholmen and the technology companies. Finding an interpretative form for this central building was the essence of the task. After a period of investigating different design ideas, the house found its eventual form, from which the continued process in turn emerged. The special lay-out permitted Naven, together with Chalmers’ existing buildings, to form a sheltered square area. This square is the meeting place, the social arena for the entire district. The level of attraction is reinforced by open-air cafés and seating modules facing onto the river and the water.

The building is generously open on both of its lower sections, where publicly extrovert activities are carried on. Facing the square, Navet opens up with glazed façades and its significant apexes projecting out in an expressive pose, to say the least. The upper floors are designed like an awe-inspiring “black box”, floating above the glass façade.

“The material the façade is made of is interesting – an 8 mm thick high-pressure laminate from Perstorp. It is actually used on both the façade and the reception desk,” explains Åke Johansson, Lead Architect. “We had never worked with the material previously, but the site manager was sceptical. He broke a piece off the sheet and placed it in a container of water, as a demonstration, to prove that it would never last. After eight months, he had to admit defeat.”

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