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Behind the facade of the Widerström Building

The Widerström BuildingOn the outside, the office block at the junction of Solnavägen/ Tomtebodavägen cuts a rather discreet figure, with its clean lines and facade of red brick set into light concrete. But don't let appearances deceive. Behind the walls hide surprises aplenty.

"Our commission was to design a multi-purpose office block, and, drawing inspiration from public health work, we chose to use clean, natural, honest materials, like concrete and wood," says Sanna Hederus, part-owner and architect at KOD Architects, who won the contract to design the building that is called the Widerström Building.

Retro design

"The colour scheme we opted for might come as a surprise, with its mixture of calm, discreet elements and real explosions of colour. Our palette is a combination of grey, white, red, blue, turquoise and yellow. We were inspired by the 1960s and 70s in our design", says Sanna.

Getting closer to the city

Helena Wessberg, Åsa Kallstenius och Sanna Hederus, KOD Arkitekter.The Widerström Building comprises two narrow-footprint blocks, one of seven storeys and one of ten, providing office space for about 600 people. It has a spacious entrance and two storeys dedicated to students, with teaching rooms and common rooms. The two bottom floors are largely glazed, giving passers-by a glimpse of goings on within.

"Our intention was to open up both the building and the campus to the city in order to bring the community a little closer to the academy," explains Sanna.

A spacious meeting place

Widerström BuildingOn entering the block, the visitor is greeted by a wide, high-ceilinged foyer decorated in cool tones with a white dappled floor, providing a generous meeting space for teachers, students and researchers.

"The foyer is designed as an open space for people to move freely in," says Sanna. "We want people to get a sense of space, movement and dynamism, to feel that the building is a hive of activity. It's also important for people to have a general grasp of who's coming and going and for there to be good communication between the different storeys."

Room for personal expression

The main design concept for the office levels was to keep the colour spectrum simple and neutral, with a dark grey floor and sober tones, the brighter, more dramatic splashes of colour being reserved for the buildings central core, such as green flooring in some of the meeting rooms.

"Since there'll be many people sitting working here, we decided to keep the colours neutral, which will allow them to make their own personal mark on their office space with a colourful rug or maybe a poster on the wall," says Sanna.

A cascade of colour in the student spaces

View over the foyer from the second floor. In the student areas, however, the architects have really gone to town. Here, there is an explosion of colour.

"The colour spectrum in the student spaces is more indulgent and rich in contrast. The warm tones create a soft, cheerful atmosphere. For example, some of the lecture rooms are light blue, while some of the floors are bright yellow and elsewhere blue or turquoise. Floors are a good way to make use of colour as they give it a presence without it taking over," explains Sanna.

View over the foyer from the second floor. © KOD Architects

Exciting works of art

Other elements that help to tie up the design and give the building a personal identity include textiles, furnishings and lighting. For instance, the interior concepts introduced through the Future learning environments project, which was set up to improve study environments, has been incorporated into the building. It has also been decorated with artworks, including a creation by Kristina Matousch made up of toilet rolls cast into the concrete walls