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Sibelius Quarter, Hestra
Borås, Southern Sweden, 1993

Sibelius Quarter, Hestra

Client: Bygg-Fast i Borås AB
Location: Borås, Southern Sweden
Year of completion: 1993
Gross area: 2 950 m²
Volume: 7 950 m³

Modern living calling for innovative approaches and new types of housing was the theme for the design competition in 1990. Apartment houses are way behind detached one-family homes in this respect. To redress the balance, we should start building more functional flats with better lighting, bigger yards, more balconies and terraces, more spacious stair halls, more striking entrances, and more efficiently planned housing types - with greater distinctiveness of design.

The Sibelius pilothouse is made of to two wedge-like volumes. The yard between them tapers off towards the approach. This yard, reminiscent of a semi-public interior, serves as a common living area for the residents. The yard provides access to each flat, either directly from underground level, via the stair hall and “laubengang”, or up a private stairway to the flats on the first floor. The yard is an urban, communal meeting place, providing a safe environment for children to play. In counterpoint to the busy, socially-oriented yard, the spacious balconies facing away from the yard, the ground level patios and the rooftop terraces offer residents peace, privacy, and communion with nature. The interaction of the buildings and surrounding landscapes and greenery was a primary consideration in the design of the pilot house; the same guiding objective has been applied throughout the region of Hestra.

The double-storey flats on the top floor each have a penthouse terrace and sauna. All 34 flats span the entire length of the frame. The sweeping diagonal views to the yard from the entrance hall through the living room endow the flats with an enhanced sense of spaciousness. The entrance and kitchen are arranged on the side of the court, leaving the more private rooms - the bedrooms and living room - to fringe the outer edges. This arrangement reiterates the private-versus-public contrast of the exterior spaces. The layout was designed to adapt itself to different lifestyles and family circumstances. The building has a steel-reinforced concrete frame; the elevations, floors and ceilings are prefabricated concrete units. The building has a peat roof. The waterproofing is built up with sacks of peat. The joints are filled with soil, and the roofs planted with grass. The peat is 20cm thick. The vertical installations (ventilation, plumbing and electricity) are mounted outside the frame against the elevation facing the yard to facilitate maintenance an alteration.