School building of the year: Gothenburg’s new sustainable landmark

Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium in Gothenburg has won the Swedish School Building of the Year 2021 award.

Read the interview with KUB arkitekter, the firm behind the distinctive building where Troldtekt acoustic panels play a significant role.

Located on the harbour front in Gothenburg and surrounded by cranes and old shipyards, the newly built upper secondary school Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium was ready to open its doors to students in 2020.

The building was designed by KUB arkitekter, and has won the Swedish School Building of the Year 2021 award. The conference and event organiser Nohrcon is behind the award, which saw an expert jury and 700 public votes selecting Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium as the winner.

The school has a floor area of 11,300 square metres on five floors. The architect PerEric Persson from KUB arkitekter, who designed the school, is pleased with the result and the positive response to the building, which is the first newly built school in Gothenburg for 20 years.

“The task involved designing a new – and sustainable – school building. It needed to be modern,
flexible and act as a landmark for the city. And I think we’ve succeeded on all counts.”

In addition to being named School Building of the Year 2021 in Sweden, the project was also nominated by the Swedish architects for the prestigious Kasper Salin Prize.

Built as an energy-plus building

Due to the heavy costs involved, one of the requirements stipulated back in 2012 was that the building’s extensive technical installations should be flexible, explains PerEric Persson.

“Installations such as power, ventilation and sprinklers are therefore completely exposed. This means that everything can easily be changed around, and that it’s also possible to switch functions. The inspiration came from modern office buildings with flexible technical systems, which make it possible to move functions to new locations. This makes the building more sustainable in the long term, as it can easily be given a new lease of life as an office, hotel, conference centre, light industrial building etc. Moreover, the installations can play an active role in the teaching of technical subjects.”

In addition, Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium had to be sustainable in terms of the materials that were chosen as well as its energy consumption.

On the sawtooth roof, 2,000 square metres of solar panels have been installed, and angled towards the south.

Together with an underground geostorage facility, this has resulted in an energy-plus building that generates energy for itself – and for its surroundings.

Symbol of innovation

Another project requirement was that Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium should symbolise innovation and expertise. Given its location in Gothenburg’s central harbour area between the old shipyards Äran and Santos, it made sense to draw inspiration from the harbour environment, says PerEric Persson.

“The overall concept for Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium is based on long, open spans and impressive ceiling heights. Distinctly separated from its surroundings, the building has been rotated to create triangular forecourts leading up to the entrances. The industrial heritage of the area has inspired both the building’s design and the choice of materials.”

In the evening, parts of the building are illuminated to make the area inviting for passers-by.

Like the bark on a pine tree

PerEric Persson says that the architects focused on using durable materials, as Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium is very exposed to the elements. Moreover, the materials are key to the building’s architectural idiom.

During the initial stages, several possible constructions were investigated, resulting in a hybrid construction with concrete floors and exterior walls, and with glulam load-bearing beams. There was a desire to use sustainable materials, but at the same time they had to be robust and also acquire an attractive patina.

“The positive environmental properties of wood contributed, of course, to the decision. In addition to the glulam structure, the building features solid wood walls and other wooden elements, for example the large staircase,” he says.

The exterior concrete facades are clad with dark brown bricks. The idea is for the bricks, with their alternating depths and shades, to create the sort of variation that is reminiscent of the bark from a pine tree.

Peace and quiet

KUB arkitekter also focused on creating pleasant teaching environments and on giving students the best possible conditions for learning and development. Therefore, good acoustics was a high priority, explains PerEric Persson, and the choice fell on Troldtekt acoustic panels made from wood and cement. The panels work well in the rooms intended for quiet study, and also in the open communal areas with their high ceilings and mixed soundscapes.

“We chose Troldtekt because of the material’s outstanding technical properties in terms of its sound absorption combined with the panels’ strength and durability. As we wanted to use Troldtekt on both the ceilings and walls, it was very important that the material was robust and could acquire a patina over the years without showing signs of wear. The environmental properties and design of the Troldtekt panels were also important factors.”

The ceilings are clad with Troldtekt acoustic panels in natural wood, while a customised Troldtekt solution has been chosen for the walls – with milled grooves running across the surface of the grey acoustic panels.

>> Read more about Lindholmens Tekniska Gymnasium and see pictures of the building

PerEric Persson, architect from KUB Arkitekter.