Multifamily / Grand
A former brownfield polluted by a Saab factory is now the site of the most environmentally advanced apartment complex in this Swedish city, a ferry's ride from Copenhagen. Part of an annual government-funded housing exhibition, the building uses experimental technology such as photovoltaic panels, triple-glazed windows filled with argon gas, and sod roof surfaces that restore oxygen to the air. Inside, a cherry-paneled "smart" wall running through all the units supports power and data cabling. Residents can check security or adjust their thermostats from long-distance and analyze their energy use at the end of the month. The goal was to create a "forward-thinking building in terms of sustainability, lifestyle patterns, and integrating new technology," says John Ruble, FAIA.
The architects gave the building's aesthetics the same exacting scrutiny. "We tried to create a sense of movement within a tight, U-shaped block," says project architect James Mary O'Connor. In each unit, the living room is part of a tower that angles outward, borrowing space from the garden. The judges praised the use of color to identify each tower. "It defines ownership while reinforcing public space," they said. O'Connor explains: "It's like a fisherman coming home from the sea--a tradition in Malmo--catching sight of those colorful buildings and saying, 'I live in the red tower.' It's a way of bringing you home."