Interaction of art, residents and architecture

Imagine an apartment building that gets its exterior identity from those who live there

Interactive architecture does not have to be digital. Imagine an apartment building that gets its exterior identity from those who live there. And slowly over time, it will change in its expression, when new residents move in and are invited to be co-creators of the architecture.

This could become a reality in Södra Värtan in Stockholm. Fojab Architects and the developer Abacus has been entrusted by the City of Stockholm to proceed with creating housing out of the ordinary, where art and architecture interacts.

The project won an assignment covering half a block in the new district of Södra Värtan, part of the expansion of Norra Djurgårdsstaden in Stockholm. In a tightly controlled space the assignment was to make a living, sustainable urban environment with careful design, opportunities for collaboration and a wealth of impressions.

Residents paint the exterior
The basic concept means that the residents, in a tightly controlled geometric exterior, are invited to paint the facade adjacent to their homes. When moving in, they are supplied with keys, an art manual and tools and paint in the right colors. The manual is indicative of boundaries, color themes and inspirational example.

Jens Larsson is lead architect and responsible for the project at Fojab Architects in Stockholm.

- The assignment from Abacus formulated the desire to involve the residents and inspire them to look at the outside of the apartment as an artist's canvas. In the meeting with the City of Stockholm's requirements on a tight facade architecture, we found a typology and a structure that makes this possible. The façade has a strict exterior, an orderly grid of bricks. On the other side of the building, there are balconies and a façade that residents can influence - a game with clear rules. This is a building that has the potential to become one of Stockholm's future attractions, both for residents and tourists, says Jens Larsson.

Inspiration from Vienna
The team at Fojab Architects, besides Jens Larsson, consists of Mikael Pettersson, Joachim Lundquist and Stefan Johansson. They have used the artist Per Hasselberg as a consultant on the concept. Early on, the developer and architects were inspired by Hundertwasserhaus, one of Vienna's main attractions, where residents have the right to paint the building's facade.

Per Hasselberg argues that Hundertwasserhaus is a good example that artists can not create art without collaborators:

- As art and architecture, Hundertwasserhaus can be seen as banal. But the relationship between the residents and the city shows that artistic, creative thinking is a public utility, a way to get a grip on the world and influence it.

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