Promising Modernist architecture with a glazed terracotta façade and enganging cylindrical interiors, overlooking the town square of Lindholmsplatsen in Göteborg, Sweden. Expectations are high. First impressions of this sawtooth style building blow your sight away. Κuggen speaks for Chalmers University of Technology. Designed by architect Gert Wingårdh, the construction was finished in March 2011. Since then, Kuggen has won many awards for design innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship.
Kuggen incorporates optimal offices in continuity, joined with a circular staircase (the building has only one elevator) which provides compelling perspectives and geometries from the top of the building.
With 5 floors, a cellar expanded to an area of 5350 sqm, and a round form as evocative as a sprockets’ (kuggen in Swedish means cog), its gives away a jaw-dropping spectacle. Kuggen is planned to hold opportunities for informal meetings between students and visitors. It’s a playful building which, at the same time, runs functionally beneath its design discourse. Against the minimalism of plain colours, Kuggen’s intense red color matches the wharfs and harbor and, from its eight colours, which emerge systematically, it creates a certain warm impact in its psychological impression.
The building expands externally upwards and, the higher you climb, each floor seems deliberately angled to allow the natural light to make stunning shadows. Kuggen is constructed entirely of concrete, although its mechanical systems are hidden. About 192 prefabricated wall elements of terracotta are hung on its walls with stainless steel clips. These elements change the building’s character from one angle to another over the course of the day. The building is also designed for fire protection as well as the way its triangular-shaped windows reduce noise levels, while the carpeting is glued directly to the slab, and thus benefits from its thermal mass. It also features a rotating photovoltaic UV factor screen on the top floor. Because of its being subject to extremes of climate, the architects had to provide Kuggen with a welcoming contrast.
The result is a building with a calculated energy consumption under 55 kWh/m2 annually, including all mechanical systems.
Finally, Kuggen raises issues concerning the importance of the role of the architects in educational buildings that are nevertheless charged with terms related to design fashion and style. In other words, Kuggen winks at its own Swedish references, full of an extraordinary talent for design.
Words: Maria Passarivaki
Architect: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB thru Gert Wingårdh and Jonas Edblad / Client: Chalmersfastigheter AB / Contractor: PEAB / Year of construction: 2010-2011 / The completion date: 2011-09-08