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When we think of architecture, we think of buildings. Naturally, above the ground. But what happens when we try building bellow the surface? Located under the Vita Berg Park in Stockholm, the Pionen–White Mountain project is a brilliant example of how amazing architecture can be achieved under the ground as well.
The project developed in a former anti-atomic shelter. Located thirty meters under the granite rocks and measuring 1200 square meters, it was definitely a challenge and, at the same time, an intriguing and unusual project. If architects normally create shells to form buildings, France-Lanord now had to face a different opportunity and consider a different approach. The first conceptual idea was to consider rock a living organism and try to make people fit in it, comfortably. Light, plants, water and technology were among the things that had to be brought in to help people acclimate with the unwelcoming space.
The contractor was an internet provider so the the design had to provide the inhabitants with offices and server halls which, considering that the employees would spend a long time under the ground every day, had to present themselves as a welcoming environment that would remind and feel as the outside world. The designers created strong contrasts between rooms where the rock dominates and where the human being is a stranger against rooms where the human being took over totally.
„Our references come straight from science fiction films, mostly ‘Silent Running’ and a bunch of Bond films with Ken Adams set design.
One can describe the process in five different phases:
-destruction of the former office and blowing up the rock to create extra space.
-reinforce the cave. concrete work.
-technical installations. electrical.
-glass and steel work. paint and furnishing.
The client had a strong vision from the first brief and the result is only possible because of their persistence, the absence of compromise and great communication/ understanding between all parts under the process.
It has been very exciting to work with a space which at first didn’t offer one square angle: the rock. The main room is not a traditional space limited by surfaces but defined by the emptiness inside a mass.”
A truly unusual project that has been handled beautifully, preserving the attributes of the given site but transforming it radically to be able to house its new occupants and accommodate to their own needs and desires.
Architects: Albert France-Lanord Architects
Collaborators: Frida Öster and Jonatan Blomgren
Geology Consultant: Geosigma AB
Construction: Albert France-Lanord Architects
Client: Bahnhof AB
Construction Area: 1,200 sqm
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Åke E:son Lindman