Rough and tough environment at Chalmers

The new Samhällsbyggnadshuset building has opened up at Chalmers in Gothenburg. Helge Zimdal’s 1968 building has become more energy-efficient and gained a clearer, more open organization, primarily under the architect firm White’s leadership.

Troldtekt Thorn Creative Agency
Photo: Thorn Creative Agency

The hardest part was the ground floor, which despite seeing significant traffic, felt rather neglected at the architecture school.

“The ground floor was much more cellar, and very little workshop,” says Ulla Antonsson, lead architect at White in Gothenburg. “Helge Zimdal’s environments at Chalmers are beautiful and sustainable, but his work is thought to have stopped above the basement floor. We removed paint from the blue-painted columns and sanded the concrete floors. We now have open, bright places to study next to spaces for lunch and open areas.”

The glass panels of the study rooms open up to enormous seating areas, and further into atriums with even more places to study. The setting is bright and inviting with varying ceiling heights that make the previously trapped environment much more attractive.

“Our starting point was to give the architecture students much needed direct contact with the materials, something that they will encounter later on in their careers,” emphasizes Ulla, who was a student at Chalmers in the seventies and is now an adjunct professor of architecture at the same school. “We have added Troldtekt panels, plywood and wood. It now feels less like high-brow academia and more like a workshop.”

In addition to ventilation and energy efficiency, acoustics have been one of the major issues in the architecture and engineering students’ building. This too has brought a challenge for White, given that the division for acoustics is located here.

“Troldtekt panels are made of an incredibly forgiving material that fits in well with our idea to use wood as a material. It was a natural choice, and we’ve added mineral wool over the panels to satisfy the acousticians.”