OMA’s Norra Tornen in Stockholm is a “plattenbau for the rich”

The tallest residential tower of the Swedish capital has opened, the first of two to be built with a modular system of ribbed concrete slabs, paying homage to brutalism.

OMA, Innovationen tower at Norra Tornen, Stockholm, Sweden, 2018. Courtesy OMA and Oscar Properties. Photo Laurian Ghinitoiu

OMA completed Innovationen tower, the first of the two residential towers part of Norra Tornen project. Sitting on two tiny plots of just 660 sqm and 575 sqm, the two buildings have been conceived by a team led by Reinier de Graaf. 

The project was inaugurated on 8 November, together with 79&Park by BIG, created by the same developer, Oscar Properties. It is the first project in Sweden for both firms.  

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In this gallery: photos of the exteriors of the building

Innovationen consists of 182 apartments, with shops and service facilities located on the ground floor. Its height of 125 meters makes it the highest residential building in Stockholm, which facades articulate bay windows and recessed terraces in a composition that de Graaf that referred to as echoing of brutalist architecture.

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In this gallery: interiors of the Innovationen tower and technical drawings of Norra Tornen

The conceptual remains of the unbuilt project by Aleksander Wolodarski, the city architect of Stockholm, have been the starting point for defining the stacked volumes of the towers. Norra Tornen is a gateway to the city: the Innovationen tower awaits for its twin, Helix, which completion is expected at the beginning of 2020.

“We did something that is ambiguous from many, many sides. The twin towers is a monumental typology generally, but I think here there is a certain amount of domesticity. Norra Tornen is an industrial high-rise but it tries to have a human face” stated de Graaf at the inauguration of the building.

A detail of the ribbed colored concrete brushed with exposed multi-colored aggregate pebbles. Courtesy of OMA and Oscar Properties. Photo Ake Eson Lindman.
A detail of the ribbed colored concrete brushed with exposed multi-colored aggregate pebbles. Courtesy of OMA and Oscar Properties. Photo Ake Eson Lindman.

The architects chose to work with prefabricated concrete slabs that were developed with a Swedish manufacturer specifically for this project. The ribbed panels combine coloured concrete and multi-coloured pebbles.

The repetition inherent the choice of materials and construction technique gave the tower its characterising stacked silhouette. Primitive yet sophisticated, Norra Tornen has been described by de Graaf as a “plattenbau for the rich,” it is an ambiguous experiment where prefabrication becomes luxurious, becoming domestic and varied. The building’s constructive process and aesthetic refers to social housing in Modern architecture, leaving the door open to a possible – and perhaps problematic – discussion on the aesthetisation of these models.

Reinier de Graaf at the inauguration of the Innovationen tower at Norra Tornen, Stockholm. Courtesy Oscar Properties. Photo Karl Nordlund
OMA partner Reinier de Graaf at the inauguration of the Innovationen tower at Norra Tornen, Stockholm. Courtesy Oscar Properties. Photo Karl Nordlund
Project:
Innovationen tower, Norra Tornen
Location:
Stockholm, Sweden
Program:
residential tower
Architect:
OMA/ Reinier de Graaf
Partner in charge:
Reinier de Graaf
Concept:
Alex de Jong with Philippe Braun, Diana Cristobal, Roza Matveeva, Edward Nicholson, Peter Rieff, Carolien Schippers
Competition:
Alex de Jong with Alexander Giarlis, Timur Karimullin, Vladimir Konovalov, Edward Nicholson, Victor Nyman, Vitor Oliveira, Cecilia Del Pozo, John Paul Pacelli, Peter Rieff, Carolien Schippers
Design Development:
Alex de Jong, Michel van de Kar with Isa Olson Ehn, Tobias Jewson, Edward Nicholson, Peter Rieff, Silvia Sandor, Lukasz Skalec, Jonathan Telkamp
Structures:
Arup
Mechanical engineering:
Arup
Facade engineer:
Arup Façade Engineering
Local engineer:
Sweco
Fire safety:
Tyréns AB
Acoustics:
ACAD
Code consultants:
Tengbom
Area:
18,000 sqm
Completion:
2018

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