Söderhavet / Nansen
The two young and fast growing internet companies desperately needed a bigger office and swapped a cramped attic in Old Town of Stockholm for a light and open space on the busiest pedestrian street in Stockholm. Söderhavet is a bureau focused on web design and its sister company Nansen is developing technical solutions for new media. Except for more space they also wanted a totally new environment, communicating their new values and personalities. In competition Elding Oscarson won the commission in 2009.
The office is situated in an early 20th century building. Endless alterations and a major fire have left very little of the original character. The landlord had already set out a strict design concept for the whole building and the possibilities for making exchanges within that concept were very limited. Hence the window-sills, toilets, kitchen, ceilings, glass walls, as well as the technical systems, were fixed. It became a major challenge to push the predetermined generic office concept to a characteristic and specific design. Yet we believe there is no distinct line between architecture and interior and we still wanted it to be genuine, slim and clever; not a false second façade. By adjusting the layout slightly, rearranging a couple of meeting rooms and defining two closed boxes, we straightened out the organization of the space. The space is clearly divided into two zones, internal with workstations and project rooms and external with lobby and meeting rooms. Instead of a traditional reception the big welcoming lobby works as a hub for service, informal meetings and, not least, as breakfast table and temporary workplaces for the employees.
The IT-sector is dominated by technology and the environment most often reflects that focus. Even though our client didn’t want to neglect their core business they wished to emphasize the human perspective. Moreover they wanted the atmosphere to be creative, friendly, young, not too perfect, yet professional and effective. Our interpretation to this was to aim for a balance between industrial perfection and a hand made touch. Natural and simple materials like seaweed carpet, plywood and masonite boards stands in contrast to the anodized aluminum panels, the neon orange table legs and the bright fluorescent lighting. By organizing the workstations in strict lines and creating sightlines through out the whole space the visitors gets the impression of an almost endless capacity. The workstation was made especially for the project, a simple but smart system in plywood and steel, with add-ons such as book support and screen in recycled felt. All made by basic production methods to a low budget.
To add depth to the concept we elaborated with different textures, tone-in-tone shades and similar but not identical materials. Partly we wanted the design to feel almost unfinished, like a prototype in progress.
Project: Söderhavet / Nansen
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Architect: Elding Oscarson
Contractor interior: Storskog Bygg & Montage
Joinery shop: Grötlingbo Möbelfabrik
Floor Area: 545 sqm
Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman