Our winning proposal for a new sustainable mixed-use project in Sweden - a sculptural wooden crown

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Together with Bisgaard Landscape and Rambøll, Dorte Mandrup has been named winner of the competition to design Gothenburg's new sustainability icon: Kaj 16. The building is based on the ambition of climate neutrality and will house offices, housing, restaurants, and cultural activities.

“I am proud that we have managed to bring a sculptural quality into the large volume and create a sustainable construction that allows flexibility over time. Vasakronan's high ambitions have made it possible to challenge conventions and create a future-proof building, that at the same time holds a high architectural value, ” says Founder and Creative Director, Dorte Mandrup.

Characteristic figure with high sustainability ambition

The 37,500 m2 building consists of an open, transparent base that dynamically connects the different levels of the surrounding urban spaces – the quay, the street, and the bridge. Here a mix of niche shops, co-working spaces, a bike repair shop, restaurants, and maybe even a theatre and a sourdough hotel will create a vibrant atmosphere. Paths and streets go both through and around the building, making sure that the public connections are not blocked even when the building is closed at night.

“The base has a lightweight glass surface that communicates openness and accessibility. It carries a wooden crown with a uniform and refined wooden facade, with glass surfaces creating intriguing shading effects. A distinctive figure with a strong and clear identity,” says Vasakronan's jury about our winning proposal.

On top of the base rests a distinctive wooden crown. The crown will house offices, and a mix of condos, rental apartments, student housing, and co-living apartments. All over the wooden façade are balconies – pockets with integrated plant boxes that function as semi-private, lush outdoor spaces for the residents of Kaj 16. Different Swedish woods, shrubs, and grasses match the different micro-climates occurring between the floors due to the height of the building. Collected rainwater and beehives on the roof are integrated into the lifecycle and contribute to biodiversity.

The winning team has consistently worked with sustainability, and the ambition to achieve LEED Platinum has affected all choices. Concrete from the existing building is crushed on-site and reused in the new building's base, while the recycled glass is given new life as a terrazzo coating on the concrete surface. The remaining building is constructed in wood, with columns and beams made of glulam, and floors and walls of cross-laminated timber (CLT). This makes it possible to use prefabricated elements, creating a flexible building where spaces and functions can be changed over time.