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A wooden building in Stockholm. Award-winning project by a Polish student

Dobrawa Bies
23 of December '20

{ You're ON}, an architecture student at Wroclaw University of Technology, won second prize in the international "You're ON" competition organized by the Spanish architecture studio ON-A. The concept for a wooden workshop center in a historic part of Stockholm is also the author's engineering work.

You' re ON is a project aimed at discovering new talent and encouraging innovation among architecture and design students. For the international competition, nearly four hundred entries were submitted, from which the jury selected the best three. The evaluation of the projects was carried out in accordance with the seven values of the ON-A studio, which are innovation, emotion, experimentation, geometry, coding, architecture and design, and technology.

The competition entries were judged by a jury consisting of: Areti Markopoulou (IAAC academic director, co-founder of StudioP52), Ricardo Devesa (editor-in-chief of Actar and urbanNext, ETSAB and IAAC professor), Ferran Figuerola (CEO of Cricursa), Daniel Guzmán (CEO of Verdtical), José Antonio Molina (founder of Kubbs), Eduardo Gutiérrez (founder of ON-A). The winner was the work of Byron Caden Campos, a student from Ecuador, which involves promoting a closed-loop economy in the city of Quito.

Drewniany budynek
w Sztokholmie

The building is located on the island of Stadsholen in Stockholm

© Maria Barda

wooden workshop center in Sweden

Second place in the competition was awarded to Maria Barda, a student of the Faculty of Architecture at the Wrocław University of Technology. Her engineering work entitled. "Wood Works(ies)- Workshop Center, Stockholm" made under the supervision of Dr. Ada Kwiatkowska. The work also participated in the #STOCKHOLMCALL competition of the Start for talents organization. The goal was to design a facility that would be a workshop center and laboratories for woodworking and exhibition areas. It was to bring together artisans and designers contributing to the maintenance of local traditions, as well as being a tourist attraction.

The building would stand in Stockholm, on the island of Stadsholen, in the Old Town section of Gamla Stan, the historic and historic district of the Swedish capital.

How about the choice of wood as the main construction material, says the author:

The advantages of wood construction are long-range and obvious. Wood is lightweight, cheap and durable, and renewable. Therefore, the construction industry is constantly developing its structural capabilities, and taller and taller structures are being built all over the world. Above all, however, this raw material is particularly important in Scandinavian countries, where traditional wooden construction is an important part of national identity. To this day, wood is still the most common material there. While working on the project, I tried to analyze the potential of wood as an architectural material; to learn about its qualities and limitations. The process was extremely revealing and inspiring for me: taking into account the diversity of the raw material, the project became a kind of architectural variation on its theme. Wood works(s) is an object that is itself an exposition of wood: both in the context of traditional forms and contemporary possibilities of its use.

Rzut i przekroje budynku Przestrzeń wystawiennicza

Wood acts(ń) is an object that is itself an exposition of wood

© Maria Barda

The building is placed in the historic fabric of Stockholm's Old Town, on Gamla Stan Island in Korhamnstorg Square. The lump of cube proportions is adapted in height to the cornices of medieval townhouses. Rotated by forty-five degrees, it opens up to the coast. Thanks to the underground storey , the square is freed up , offering multiple public spaces. The building's trunk, metaphorically referring to a tree, gently deforms the terrain as roots do the soil. As in Scandinavian community houses, the center would be open to everyone 24 hours a day. Admission would be free, but to get into the building those wishing to enter must book a stay via a mobile app. It would constitute an access control system - the smartphone would be the digital key.

A reference to Scandinavian tradition

The student designed the building, whose external scaffolding refers to the traditional frame construction in Scandinavia. Stave buildings, whose main element is a frame (grid), are still preserved there today. The young architect's proposal is a development of the traditional truss and purlin system in a frame structure (surrounded by a double glass facade).

Blob z przestrzenią warsztatową Przestrzenie wykonano
z różnych gatunków drewna

Various types of wood were used in the interiors

© Maria Barda

Equally original is the interior of the building, where she also used this solution, but the frames have curved forms and are filled with "blobs" of organic shapes. Throughout the building, the student proposed exhibition spaces on mezzanines and workshop spaces in openwork "blobs."


The symbolism of the tree is important in the project. The core of the building is a metaphorical tree, from which the mezzanines, or "branches," branch off. On the mezzanines the author placed pots with real trees. Grafted to the trunk, the plants have a shallow root system and reach a small size, providing continuity with the densely wooded plaza. The building consists of six floors, one of which is underground. The first floor is an entrance hall with communication. The next floor is occupied by a free exhibition space and a self-service cafe area. The next levels are mezzanines bounded by glass balustrades. Adjacent to them are "blobs," and on the top floor is a space for individual work.

Rzuty kondygnacji

The building consists of six floors

© Maria Barda

Each "blob" is made in a different way, incorporating different types of wood, including flexible and exotic varieties. Meanwhile, the openwork form creates unique spaces with a play of light and shadow. In the workshop rooms, minimally invasive woodworking would be possible, as well as working with a computer or sketchbook. The underground floor, on the other hand, would include a noisy and vibrating work zone. "Blob" workshop there would be equipped with specialized equipment (milling machines, cutting devices, machine tools) and professional tools as in a carpentry shop. The second "blob" would serve as an auditorium.

unusual glass

The use of glass is also original in the project. Inside the building, the author used liquid crystal laminated glass. This is a material with variable transparency, which can quickly change from translucent to opaque form, while providing high light transmission. It is an effective method for managing space. The hazy state can be used, for example, during vernissages, creating the right mood. The facade, on the other hand, consists of structural glass with a tree print on one of its surfaces.

Elewacja budynku
z nadrukiem drzewa Przestrzeń wykładowa

Liquid crystal laminated glass was used in the interiors, while structural glass was used on the facade

© Maria Barda

The center's design is a continuation of the rich Scandinavian tradition, combining fundamental values with a sign of modernity. The architecture merges with design, art and Nordic heritage to create a link between the urban and cultural life of the capital.

elaborated: {tag:AuthorAiB}

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