Launch Slideshow

the city of tomorrow, malmo, sweden

A former brownfield polluted by a Saab factory is now the site of the most environmentally advanced apartment complex in this Swedish city, a ferry's ride from Copenhagen.

the city of tomorrow, malmo, sweden

A former brownfield polluted by a Saab factory is now the site of the most environmentally advanced apartment complex in this Swedish city, a ferry's ride from Copenhagen.

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    Werner Huthmacher

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    Ole Jais

    Glassy bays in the living room project into the garden and carry light into the kitchen; rolling screens allow for privacy.

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    Perry Nordeng

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    Werner Huthmacher

    The building’s energy-efficient skin includes triple-layer glass, precast concrete, zinc panels, and aluminum. Canals and pollution-absorbing plants help to cleanse the former brownfield site.

moore ruble yudell architects & planners, santa monica, calif.

A former brownfield polluted by a Saab factory is now the site of the most environmentally advanced apartment complex in this Swedish city, a ferry's ride from Copenhagen. Part of an annual government-funded housing exhibition, the building uses experimental technology such as photovoltaic panels, triple-glazed windows filled with argon gas, and sod roof surfaces that restore oxygen to the air. Inside, a cherry-paneled "smart" wall running through all the units supports power and data cabling. Residents can check security or adjust their thermostats from long-distance and analyze their energy use at the end of the month. The goal was to create a "forward-thinking building in terms of sustainability, lifestyle patterns, and integrating new technology," says John Ruble, FAIA.

The architects gave the building's aesthetics the same exacting scrutiny. "We tried to create a sense of movement within a tight, U-shaped block," says project architect James Mary O'Connor. In each unit, the living room is part of a tower that angles outward, borrowing space from the garden. The judges praised the use of color to identify each tower. "It defines ownership while reinforcing public space," they said. O'Connor explains: "It's like a fisherman coming home from the sea--a tradition in Malmo--catching sight of those colorful buildings and saying, 'I live in the red tower.' It's a way of bringing you home."

project architect: James Mary O'Connor, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, with SWECO FFNS Arkitekter AB, Malmo
developer: Lars Birve & Ingvar Carlsson, MKB Fastighets AB, Malmo
general contractor: Lennart Whilborg, Thage Anderssons Byggnads AB, Tollarp, Sweden
landscape architect: Moore Ruble Yudell
interior designer: Tina Beebe and Kaoru Orime, Moore Ruble Yudell
project size: 600 to 1,950 square feet
site size: 1 acre
construction cost: US$150 per square foot
rental price: US$1,500 to US$2,500 per month
units in project: 27
photographers: Werner Huthmacher; Ole Jais; Perry Nordeng