“The Norra Tornen project represents a milestone achievement for us: the culmination of an ongoing effort by our office to create the next generation of modern housing typologies, creating the largest possible variety from a limited number of (prefabricated) elements, allowing the usual formalism of the apartment tower to give way to individuality, domesticity… and perhaps even humanism.”
The culmination which Rienier de Graaf, a partner at OMA, is referring to is not only one of design, but also one of a physical nature given that the ‘Innovation Tower’, officially inaugurated in Stockholm on 8 November 2018, measures 125 meters (36 stories) high and stands out as a visual reference point in the city’s urban skyline which is generally lacking in very tall buildings.
In 2020, with Helix, there will be two ‘northern towers’, part of a development and recovery project begun in 2013 by Oscar Properties, after winning a tender from the City of Stockholm, in the Hagastaden area, a new neighbourhood to the north of the city which developed around the Karolinska Institute.
This urban area brought with it, however, a legacy: two structures designed by city architect Aleksander Wolodarski and left unfinished following the project’s cancellation. “Through a kind of ‘Freudian flight forward’ – a passionate embrace of the inevitable in order to conquer and overcome one’s initial fears – the prescribed building envelope was adopted as a given.”
The original vertical segmentation was complemented by a second horizontal ‘segmentation’ that exalts the concept of repetition through the use of a modular system of prefabricated concrete elements, the installation of which was possible even with very low temperatures, thus optimising construction costs and times. In a sort of ‘cubic’ morphological crescendo, the facade alternates closed living spaces that extend toward the exterior with terraces that withdraw inwards, featuring large windows which maximise natural light and a ‘ribbed’ texture with small grooves, which incorporates aggregates of various colours.
The structure and the Brutalist cement, a clear homage to a form of architecture which, according to critic Reyner Banham, was born in Switzerland, are here ‘aestheticised’ thanks to the sophisticated use of texture and colour.
The 182 apartments, which range from 44 square meters to 271 square meters (for the penthouse on the top floor), have at their disposal in the common areas: a movie theatre, party room, gym, and spa. The Helix Tower, with 138 additional apartments, is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
OMA / Reinier de Graaf
Competition: 2013, Start of Construction: December 2015, Occupancy: September 2018
Torsplan 8, 113 65 Stockholm, Sweden
320 apartments, Retail
Arup Façade Engineering
Image courtesy of OMA
photography by Ossip van Duivenbode and by Laurian Ghinitoiu