Henning Larsen reveals all-timber design for World og Volvo
With the timber structure already coming up, Henning Larsen is pleased to reveal the design for World of Volvo, a unique experience center and meeting place for the famed Swedish brands, Volvo Cars and Volvo Group in Gothenburg that puts its focus on Scandinavian landscape, environment, and traditions.
After winning the interview competition for World of Volvo in late 2018, Henning Larsen is proud to share the design for the 22,000 sqm experience center as site work begins in Gothenburg. World of Volvo will unite the brands of Volvo Group and Volvo Cars to share the history, tradition, and future of the famed Swedish brand in a single structure. It will be an embodiment of the Volvo brand values and aspirations.
“This project is incredibly special to us,” says Søren Øllgaard, Design Director at Henning Larsen. “With its deep connection to Scandinavia, from its landscapes to its architectural tradition, World of Volvo has given us to the opportunity to explore the profound relationship between architecture and the natural environment.”
“We commit to create a landmark, a new icon and destination in the city centre of Gothenburg. We also commit to gathering people in an inspiring meeting place reflecting Volvo’s human centric approach and perspectives. Our aim with World of Volvo is to deliver a premium experience in a place where we combine entertainment; exhibitions, talks, conferences, and music, as well as food, drinks and shopping says Magnus Wrahme CEO at World of Volvo.
Located in Gothenburg’s Event district (home to many of the city’s museums, parks, and entertainment venues), the project is expected to be completed in late 2023 and open to visitors in 2024.
World of Volvo is designed around the Swedish concept of “Allemansrätten”, denoting the fundamental right that all citizens share to nature: the right to roam freely on any land (public or private), showing consideration for nature and for others. This tenet has become not just a right, but a central part of the Swedish ethos and one that lives in citizens, businesses, and organisations alike – Volvo included.
The circular form of World of Volvo, encompassing both care of nature and consideration for people, encourages visitors to make their own experience both inside and outside, regardless of whether they hold tickets to the exhibitions inside.
“Our goal was to give form to something very essential to the Swedish spirit. World of Volvo’s circular form, the timber materiality, its integration with the landscape, and, fundamentally, its openness – these things are all parts of a core collective identity,” says Martin Stenberg Ringnér, Associate Design Director, Sweden.
World of Volvo’s timber construction is at once the most forward-facing and most traditional element of the project. While Sweden (like many Nordic countries) has a long tradition of timber construction, World of Volvo takes a decidedly modern approach. The beams and columns are built from glulam timber, a wood product that constitutes multiple layers of dimensional lumber bonded by a durable moisture-resistant structural adhesive. Computer-controlled fabrication allows the curved glulam pieces to be cut with a high degree of precision. Rigidity and continuity in the structure is guaranteed with metal connectors that can be hidden inside the wooden members. The floor slabs are made of locally sourced CLT, cross laminated timber.
“Architecture is currently in the midst of a timber renaissance, with new milestones in timber construction being reached at breakneck pace,” explains Filip Francati, Lead Design Architect at Henning Larsen. “But despite strides in structural development, aesthetic expression hasn’t kept pace. World of Volvo has been an exciting opportunity to push the boundaries and we hope that it can set a new standard for the many ways we can use timber in architecture.”
Embracing Swedish Nature
The reference to nature in the arcing “branches” and roof “canopy” is by design, with the concept for the structure centered around the idea of The Mountain (the landscape and building’s base) and The Tree (the building itself.)
The large landscape that surrounds the building brings the nature of Sweden to the center of Gothenburg, covering the area in delicate flowers and native plants that bloom between, rocky outcroppings and meandering paths. And just like in the landscapes across the country, visitors are encouraged to inhabit the landscape however they like, keeping in mind the principle of allemansrätten: leave no trace.
“Our approach brings a native piece of Swedish nature to the middle of the city of Gothenburg,” says Sonja Stockmarr, Global Design Director for Landscape at Henning Larsen. “The landscape, from the Swedish quarries and the wooden structure, built with the pine trees, moss, and shrubs of the Swedish forest, make up the nature surrounding World of Volvo.”
Growing out from the Mountain are three vast “Trees”, their trunks large enough to contain small exhibit spaces, vertical circulation, bran exhibition, and service functions. The open space between the trees is left largely empty, save for sculptural stairs (the fertile Swedish forest floor) that link the level and exhibit items that dot the floor. The interior space blends smoothly with the outdoors, a floor-to-ceiling glass façades creating a seamless transition into the sprawling nature beyond.
A New Icon for Gothenburg
Located along Mölndalsån, the site for World of Volvo links to a promenade that traces the stream’s eastern bank up to Gothenburg’s city center. A number of green and functional cross-links of different types connect both sides of the river, allowing visitors to wind their way towards the site as they choose. While these links promote physical accessibility for walking and cycling, they also restore Mölndalsån’s ecological and visual connectivity.
On the other side of World of Volvo site passes the E6 highway, from which travellers will catch a high-speed glimpse of the project’s tilted roof and exhibitions inside. Whether passing from the east at 80km/h or from the west at 5km/hm the building doesn’t fully reveal all its spaces from within. It is up to the visitors to make their way and determine their own experience.
World of Volvo is expected to reach completion in late 2023, with doors opening to visitors in 2024. More information on the project is available on Henning Larsen’s website, and on https://www.linkedin.com/company/worldofvolvo/ worldofvolvo.com
Project name: World of Volvo
Client: World of Volvo
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Typology: Experience Center and meeting place
Construction Start: 2022
Expected Completion: 2023
Size: 22,000 m2 / 237,000 ft2
Certifications: LEED Gold and WELL Gold
Main contractor: BRA Bygg
Architect: Henning Larsen
Landscape: Henning Larsen
Interior design: Nordström Kelly Arkitekter AB and Henning Larsen
Wood Structure: Engineering and production by Wiehag GmbH
Wood structure: interior claddings, and facade by Lindner Scandinavia AB
Structural engineering: Optima Engineering AB and BRA Teknik
Contractor Landscape: BRA Mark
Facts about Henning Larsen
Henning Larsen is one of Denmark's leading architectural firms and has realized projects all over the world. Founded by architect Henning Larsen in 1959, the company is globally recognized for its aesthetic, sustainable and social architecture. Henning Larsen's many iconic projects include everything from standalone buildings to landscapes to large urban development projects. These include Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Center (2011) in Reykjavik, Iceland, Moesgaard Museum (2013) in Aarhus, Denmark, and the development of Cockle Bay Park, a 73,000 m2 high-rise building in central Sydney, Australia.