Anna-Lena Bodendörfer spent the past six months in Stockholm being an intern at the architectural office Urban Design. She has visited numerous buildings and written about their architecture. Her last entry at Baumeister is dedicated to a project she herself has been working on: a combined heat and power plant, called the “Värtaverket” project. Located directly at the harbor, it truly is located between land and water – the topic of her article series of the past months.
In my last article for Baumeister, I would like to write about my experiences, but also make a stop on my tour between land and water at a building that has accompanied me in many ways during my internship at Urban Design.
Looking back at sixth month in Stockholm
Looking back, I would like to emphasize that I was extremely lucky to be able to work in a Swedish office during the challenging period of the pandemic. The rules set up by the Swedish authorities have not been quite as strict as in other countries, so I have been able to work in the office during the entire period. Also, particularly at the beginning of my internship, most of my colleagues were still at the office – which has been great since I have come to understand how important direct, continuous exchange is for our profession.
Beyond the many projects I was able to work on and the great insight I gained, especially into very different construction tasks, I must make special mention of the camaraderie I experienced.
The office had breakfast together each Monday to start the new week. We went on bike rides to look at projects in various phases of their construction process. We even had a weekly sports program: “lunch running”. All these little things weld a team together and have also made it easy for me to quickly feel at ease and get along in a foreign country.
The “Värtaverket” project
The building I saved until the end is located in an industrial area at the north-eastern harbor and is Europe’s largest biomass, a combined heat and power plant. Urban Design, in collaboration with Gottlieb Paludan Architects, designed and developed the “Värtaverket” project.
I rode past it every day on my bike, and I think I have now seen it in all possible weather conditions and every time of day. It certainly catches your eye right away.
The unique part of the building is the facade. It divides the large volume of the building, and the vertical terracotta elements give it an even rhythm. The ceramic facade is quite obviously a reference to the existing brick buildings from the early 20th century.
Through this project and another industrial project located in the same area – on which I participated in the initial development phase – I realized for the first time, how important it is to execute each step in the building process with care and attention to detail, even if it is “only” a functional industrial building. Value can be created on different levels and for each person – for the client, for the environment, the urban space, the neighborhood, and of course for the people who walk past it every day.
It is our responsibility as good architects and citizens to always strive to give our environment that quality. That’s what I took with me after six months of working at Urban Design and living in the rapidly developing city of Stockholm.