High ambitions with modules and trusses

Gibraltar Guesthouse in Gothenburg, Sweden by Bornstein Lyckefors

Gothenburg has seen a major drive to increase the amount of student housing, and August saw the first students move into Gibraltar Guesthouse. This six-storey block was built with temporary planning permission right next to Chalmers’ Campus Johanneberg.

Gibraltar Guesthouse comprises 100 apartments of 28 square metres each, and is intended primarily for international students and visiting researchers.

“This project has been completed in super quick time. We presented a first outline to student housing provider Chalmers Studentbostäder at the end of 2017, and it was well received. The first box unit was delivered in March 2019 and by August the building was ready for its first tenants,” relates Johan Olsson, chief architect at Bornstein Lyckefors Arkitekter.

Gibraltar Guesthouse is a wooden building with a variety of systems for the load-bearing structure, combining different wood construction techniques in one building. The financial viability of the architecture has in part been ensured through lower production costs and having only a few subcontractors.

The building is a combination of industrially manufactured wooden box units, a glulam frame and a core of CLT around the elevator shaft and stairwell, which helps to improve stability. The wooden façades have a three-dimensional design.

“There are many benefits to combining different wood construction techniques. Construction is more efficient, because much of the work is done in the factory, which frees up resources to create ambitious architecture. Wood is also recyclable and the most sustainable construction material we have,” says Johan Olsson.

It has also made it possible to keep the monthly rent for a furnished apartment down to SEK 5,450. The apartment modules are stacked on top of each other like Lego bricks, and only minor interventions have been carried out on site. Great care has been taken over the design of the interior, with specially designed kitchens and a colour palette for the kitchen and storage units, as well as the floor, walls and ceilings, that uses a range of warm greys.

“The wooden façade creates an interesting three-dimensionality that accentuates the modular concept without making it banal. The faceting is repeated at ground level and in the eaves, terminating the design in a captivating way. The faceted façade and the glazed glulam trusses give the building two different scales that complement each other,” says Johan Olsson.

An important element of Gibraltar Guesthouse is the common room that the students share, which takes the form of a glazed space on each of the six floors. The open, airy layout creates somewhere for residents to do everyday things like sort laundry, study, play table tennis and socialise. This area serves as an important complement to the efficiently planned student apartments.

Text Katarina Brandt

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