Vardtornet Parkinghouse, Norrkoping
© Wienerberger AB

A car park plays hide and seek

architectum issue roof and façade

Vardtornet Parkinghouse, Norrkoping
© Wienerberger AB

The Vårdtornet parking garage

in Sweden

Vardtornet Parkinghouse, Norrkoping
© Wienerberger AB

Used products

Retro Punainen Sileä, white glased bricks

A car park plays hide and seek

Interview with Utopia Arkitekter

Utopia Architects had a difficult problem to solve. The task was to build a large, modern parking garage in central Norrköping, a Swedish old industrial area with picturesque brick buildings – without disturbing the style of the district.

Norrköping’s characteristic industrial brick buildings date from between 1850 and 1920, and since 2018 they have been joined by Vårdtornet, a car park designed by you. What’s the story behind it?

Architect Mattias Litström: It started off as a request to create a large, modern and highly efficient carpark. Not necessarily the most obvious solution in a surrounding dominated by some of the most beautiful industrial brick buildings in the whole of Sweden. But the combined challenge of meeting the modern-day functional requirements as well as creating a building that would fit into the area made us jump on the task. We at Utopia Arkitekter mainly design residential and office buildings, so the parking garage was an unusual project for us.

„The key solution was to break down the façade into smaller parts, each designed with a different mix of material or executed with a varying style and an attention to detail not usually seen in modern car parks.” - Architect Mattias Litström, Utopia Arkitekter.

How was it possible to integrate a car park into the historical surroundings?

First of all, we listed a few factors that would make the project possible without disrupting the homogenous style of the area. One of the very first and most obvious choices was to pick red brick as the main material for the façades. But the unusually big volume of the car park also called for a greater degree of variation both in shape and choice of material.

More specifically, what does that mean?

Well, we had to design an oddly shaped building, that was to stand on a drastically slanted site with very different conditions in every direction. The key solution was to break down the façade into smaller parts, each designed with a different mix of material or executed with a varying style and an attention to detail not usually seen in modern car parks. The common denominator of the different solutions being a clear reference to the style of the neighbouring buildings.

Were there other reasons for this mix of materials and design, apart from aesthetic ones?

The finished building uses a dynamic mix of smooth brickwork, relief brickwork and glazed bricks. Fire regulations that call for a great degree of structural ventilation throughout the car decks was the key to both the uniquely slim brick pillars framing the narrow openings on one side and the varied patterns of smaller square openings on another.
 
The result is a building that meets the safety requirements whilst at the same time does a great job of maintaining a wholeness of the building as well as hiding the cars on the inside.

The Vårdtornet car park has been awarded the title of Façade of the Year 2020 in Sweden. What special features convinced the jury?

The details of the brick façade encasing the multi­story car park and how they naturally blend into the historically significant surroundings were particularly emphasised by the judges considering the award. Although modern and voluminous, it feels like an addition to the area, the jury stated. Another reason was the courage of the design and the innovatively used brickwork, that has placed great demands on precision and craftmanship. 

Vardtornet Parkinghouse, Norrkoping
© Wienerberger AB

Facts & Figures

Project Name: Vårdtornet, Norrköping, Sweden

 

Architect   Mattias Litström and Simon Ståhl, Utopia Arkitekter

Client   Norrköpings Parkering AB

Year of completion   2018

Category   Roof & Façade

Products used  Retro Punainen Sileä, white glased bricks

Vardtornet Parkinghouse, Norrkoping

Retro Punainen Sileä, white glased bricks - Sweden

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