Arkiteturtävlingen European Copper in Architecture Awards inträffar vartannat år och hyllar arkitektonisk utformning av byggnader med koppar eller kopparlegering i tak eller andra arkitektoniska element. Expansionen och utvecklingen av de inlämnade bidragen under de senaste två decennierna speglar en fundamental förändring i användningen av koppar på byggnader.
Chris Hodson diskuterar Clarion Post Hotel med professor Magnus Månsson, ägare av arkitektkontoret Semrén & Månsson.
CH: How did you become involved with the Hotel Post project?
MM: I was invited by a developer to find a location for a big hotel here in Gothenburg, near the central station. I was already designing another hotel and was preoccupied with the anatomy of the building typology. The Post Office building was converted into an office building in the late 80's but when I looked at it, I thought: this is not an office, this is a hotel - just by the window arrangement. The developer agreed with my proposal for a spectacular project combining new and old - and that was 8 years ago.
CH: What were the challenges in working on such a prominent, protected building?
MM: of course there was a struggle first of all with the different authorities. The building is protected by the highest classification of protection in Sweden and we were involved with not just the local authorities but also the national organisation in Stockholm, so that was a struggle. Actually you could not change anything on the exterior, that was one of the starting points. The interesting thing is, we found more understanding the higher up the organisation of protection we went. They thought more positively about what was possible to do with the building, to have it open for the public again - and this is a mind-set that I really admire.
CH: How did you set about designing the hotel. Was it a collaborative process within your office or did you develop initial concepts yourself?
MM: I think it goes both ways. But on this project we tried not to just jump into some kind of design process. We took 4 or 5 months just to figure out the logistics, which are critical to the success of a hotel – particularly entrances and internal access.
CH: The main entrance is on the west frontage but you have also included access from the east side. Why is this?
MM: The east entrance in the new building is just for conference guests, avoiding access through the Reception area. But there was also the question of how to take in and out linen, water, food, garbage and so on, which we handled with service entrances there as well. That was the easy part – then you have to distribute services throughout the hotel interior without the hotel guests noticing, so this is what we actually worked on designing for the first 4 months.
CH comment: Having stayed at the hotel, I have to say it's particularly impressive from that point of view. Everything is in the background and almost hidden.
CH: Although you have three other offices, you are a locally based practice in Gothenburg. Do you approach a project on your door-step differently to working elsewhere?
MM: I hope not. But, of course, I pass this building travelling from my home everyday so it is particularly close to me.
CH: From an urban planning point of view, do you see the Post Hotel as having a major civic roll?
MM: Oh yes it has. Gothenburg can be considered a small city of a large size - we still have the old central parts, low in scale and with the atmosphere of the 17th Century. When the Swedish government built the Post Office it actually covered two blocks although it was meant to have a street through. This stopped natural expansion of the city to the east, with just a narrow street busy with trams squeezed next to the building. So, the new copper and slate tower signals the new town to the east, when viewed from the old centre. But it will also act as a focal point closing the avenue to the east and a new square in front, currently being planned.
CH: Were there other reasons for using copper and slate other than simply referencing the original building’s roof?
MM: In the 1920's everything was very local, but it was very natural and we were proud that we had materials like copper. We wanted to develop this heritage with a material language that made the new parts distinctive but with continuity. I see the new building as a young relative with the same DNA. Copper was so important for our design.
CH: I understand that Gothenburg sees itself as a vibrant young city in many ways and the hotel is now a focus for local people.
MM: I agree. From the start, the hotel management said this should be a meeting place - not just for the hotel guests but for Gothenburg – and this was central to the program. This worked well, as we could use the massive, protected areas in the original building for public space.
CH: How involved were you with the interiors and other design aspects?
MM: We had full responsibility for the interiors as well as the traditional architectural work. I like to approach projects from a holistic point of view and within our company of 80 architects there are 7 or 8 dedicated interior designers, so we are quite used to doing things like that.
CH: It's an excellent solution, you move through the building from old to new without noticing the age, just the diversity of spaces.
MM: As though the spaces are intertwining. At the entrance level, there is a more modern feel contrasting with the much taller spaces above. But everything about the hotel’s atmosphere has to reflect Gothenburg’s particular attitude as a ‘second city’ in a country. Here, we are very proud to be a port, open to the world. We do not have a heritage of noble families but rather successful merchants.
CH: As well as running a successful architectural practice with four offices, you also teach. When you have the opportunity, how do you relax?
MM: It's a juggling act and there is not much spare time. But when I can, I draw.Författad av: Chris Hodson
Semrén & Månsson arbetar utifrån den fasta övertygelsen att god arkitektur är lönsam och att moderna hus är tidståliga, hälsosamma och ger betraktaren en känslomässig upplevelse. Med över 40 års erfarenhet av stadsplanering, byggnadsutformning, inrednings- och produktdesign deltar vi i utvecklingen av modern samtidsarkitektur i olika delar av världen.