Learning curve: first-class new university buildings from Uppsala to Toronto

Learning curve: first-class new university buildings from Uppsala to Toronto

Giving us a lesson in architecture we won't forget, these university buildings deliver a range of functions and interior finishes, and each brings an informed vision for the future of education to the table.

As originally featured in the November 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*224)

Project type: Social hub and management HQ
Name: Segerstedthuset
Location: Uppsala University, Sweden
Architects: 3XN

As the early rays of the sun dance off its limestone façade, the new Segerstedthuset in Uppsala, Sweden takes on a rosy hue – a fitting complement to the nearby castle, a pastel pink structure dating back to 1549. Completed this summer, Segerstedthuset has a distinctively modern form characteristic of its Copenhagen-based architects, 3XN. It consists of two U-shaped, overlapping volumes that abound with sharp angles and floor-to-ceiling glass, tempered with an abundance of horizontal lines and gently sloping roof elements that blend the building into the natural landscape. It’s a sensitive addition to a historic area (also comprising a bastion, a park and a botanical garden) that has seen few changes in recent decades.

Segerstedhuset was commissioned by the Uppsala University – the oldest university in the Nordic region – to provide workspace for its researchers, management and administrative staff, who were previously spread across nine different buildings. More importantly, the new building was conceived as a campus landmark, and a social hub for the university community. The 25,000 sq m campus landmark serves 45,000 students.

Photography: Adam Mørk. Writer: TF Chan

Project type: Social hub and management HQ
Name: Segerstedthuset
Location: Uppsala University, Sweden
Architects: 3XN

Wide walkways, cut through landscaped areas with outdoor seating and lead into entrances on opposite sides of the building. 3XN worked with Statens Konstråd, Sweden’s public art agency, to commission Color Wheel, a set of revolving doors (one at each entrance) with multicolour glass panels by American artist Spencer Finch. As the doors turn, the glass overlaps to create virtually infinite colour combinations. It’s an allusion to the endless quest for knowledge, but also a brilliant lure for the campus community and external visitors alike.

Once in the building, one encounters a full-height atrium, bedecked with large windows through which natural light pours in, and with a sculptural four-part beechwood staircase spiraling through the space. According to Jan Ammundsen, senior partner and head of design at 3XN, ‘the atrium acts as the heart of the building, with the staircase functioning as the main artery. It brings not only warmth to the atrium but animates the entire space’. A separate staircase connects the two lower levels where the entrances are located, allowing easy passage through the building for passers-by. This is lined with a vertical garden, created by Stockholm specialist Green Fortune, further blurring the boundaries of outer and inner space.

Photography: Adam Mørk. Writer: TF Chan

Project type: Social hub and management HQ
Name: Segerstedthuset
Location: Uppsala University, Sweden
Architects: 3XN

The ground floor houses a relaxed restaurant and event space, whereas the upper levels have a combination of traditional offices, meeting rooms and informal gathering spaces (with ‘Attach’ tables by Lammhults and slender ‘Hee’ bar stools by Hay), complete with the fika stations that are so essential to Swedish working culture.

3xn worked with interior architects Indicum to shape the Segerstedthuset's offices, working with the university to rethink the way workspaces, circulation and social hubs were used and arranged. Indicum also designed much of the bespoke furniture. Pieces include custom-designed octagonal sofas-cum-meeting spaces, produced by Facctory, along with bespoke benches, desks and tables. Indicum's geometric prints also appear on the acoustic panelling by Abstracta.

Writer: TF Chan

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