Completion Date: June 2015

 

The Grove House, Sundbyberg, Stockholm, Sweden
Marge Arkitekter

Marge Arkitekter were asked to design a small utility building for an existing children’s pool in a public park called Tornparken in the northwest of Stockholm. The quest was to design a building that would contain all the necessary technical equipment such as tanks, cleaning filters and chemical containers, as well as a wheelchair accessible bathroom for visitors to the park. The organic layout of the park and the feeling of untouched, flourishing pine forest with bare rocks scattered throughout was a unique quality of the site. Rather than contrasting with nature the architects wanted to create a building that blended in with its forest-like surroundings.

The round shape proved to be the most beneficial form to accommodate the bulky technical equipment of the pool and for the bathroom to allow wheelchair accessibility requirements while keeping a small footprint.

As a result, the plan was designed from two differently sized circles, precisely programmed to fit the spatial needs or the two rooms. The circles were placed tangenting each other by a walls distance, with the bigger technical room in the back and the public bathroom in the front, facing the park. Also, a wavy wooden deck was added to the design in order to make space for playing close to the water and to better connect the new building with the existing pool.

On the interior the bathroom has white tiles with grey mortar joints that are vertically oriented with a green painted ceiling above, in reference to a birch grove, crowned by a round skylight that lets in the sunlight and connects to the waving tree tops high above the building.

The edge-less shape of the building meets the bare rocks in a delicate way and allows for the existing trees to remain untouched on site. The rough-cut spruce trunks that wrap around the volume are traditionally used for Swedish fencing. The sturdy heartwood of the spruce trunks comes from growing very slowly over a long time. Highlighting this material tradition, Marge Arkitekter found that spruce is highly suitable for The Grove House, not only because of its rough expression, but also because it amplifies the round shape of the building and the verticality of the slender pine trees around it.

The durability of spruce is ideal for outdoor use. However, despite this it has previously been placed in a low-status category, seen only as a simple fencing material. Modernising the method, traditional bush-knots have been translated into a steel wire that braids around the facade and ties the logs together. In this way the material ties back to the handcraft and the simplicity of the fencing method and at the same time highlights it as a beautiful façade material. With time, the façade will fade into the same grey nuances of the backdrop and start mimicking the roughness of the surrounding tree trunks.

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