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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Aula Medica in Solna, Sweden by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

 
December 15th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Strange enough, no large auditorium was built at Karolinska Institutet when its campus was created in the 1940’s. Yes, there were intentions, but the medical university expanded in numbers as well as ranking without any possibility to assemble neither students nor scientists in large numbers. In the beginning of the new millennia, a donation finally made it possible to complete the compound with the venue it needed so long.

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

  • Architects: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB
  • Project: Aula Medica
  • Location: Solna, Sweden
  • Photography: Patrik Lindell
  • Contributors construction documents: Andreas Henriksson (Project Architect), Birgitta Stenvaller, Guisli Benito, Ronja Saxberg, Viktoria Wallin, Johan Wegbrant, Per Odebäck, Kjell Nord, Ingrid Alerås, Nils Korth, Maria Olausson, Anna Palm
  • Contributors schematic design and systems documents: Jannika Wirstad (Project Architect), Josefine Kastberg, Traian, Cimpeanu, Filip Rem,
  • Visualization: Robert Hendberg, Fredrik Gullberg

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

  • Contributors: Foued Hajjam and Björn Nilsson
  • Client: Akademiska Hus AB for Karolinska Institute
  • Contractor form: Cooperative contracting
  • Gross area: 13,700 sq.m.
  • Constructions costs: 500 M SEK
  • Construction period: 2010 – 2013

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

An auditorium at a university, or aula to use the word of the classical languages, goes beyond the task of a lecture hall. Its ceremonial roots in the church and the architectonic heredity in the theatre, makes the aula today’s secular society’s most solemn and ritual space. It is not only a tribute to science and education, but also a site for strong collective experiences.

Image Courtesy © Ola Fogelström

The significance of the aula both for academia and for the society at large, calls for a protrude setting in the city. That is why the project for an aula at Karolinska Institutet moved from a remote site behind existing buildings to the exposed location where it is being built today. Wingårdhs’ involvement began with a proposal in an invited competition in 2001. The entry was selected for further development, and as the site later altered, the client’s choice of architect remained.

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

The new location for the building is congenial with its position in the academic society as well as in the emerging cityscape. The building protrudes over the intersection between Solnavägen, a thoroughfare that is about to be transformed into an urban street, and the pedestrian axis that will connect the university with the extensive hospital currently under construction next by. The proximity to its large complex called for an expressive form, and discussions with the antiquary authorities created a clarifying distinction to a listed building nearby.

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

These geometries – the street 5,5 meter below the crossing pedestrian axis and the V-shaped auditorium – denominated the plan. The urban pattern called for a building that treated the street with the same respect as the main entrance toward the walkway. If Solnavägen shall be a street with a human presence in the future, entrances close to the pavement are of crucial importance.

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

If the relation to the city is guided by a wish to adapt to an urban pattern, the plan of the building is generated by the auditorium. For a large aula of today, where lectures with images and performances on the stage demand good sightlines and acoustics to each and every seat,  the V-shaped seating have proved to be the most efficient. It has not always been like that. The shape of the hall has changed by changing objectives.

Image Courtesy © Patrik Lindell

For KI, we believed that an arrangement where the speaker and the audience could meet on an equal basis, mirrored the academic society of today best. That is also why the level of the auditorium entrance is equal with the stage, as well as with the middle section of the dividable plenum. An auditorium at Nobel Center shall be equally accessible, but differences in size and mood may call for a different plan.  The optimal solution is never static.

Image Courtesy © Tord-Rikard Söderström

Daylight, efficiency and energy consumption (the aula has reached the “silver” level of sustainability) have been some of the key criteria when planning the aula, but the most visual statement will always be the inclined façade.

Image Courtesy © Tord-Rikard Söderström

The twisted elevation is made entirely of flat glass panes; a geometry made possible by the triangular pattern that encloses the entire building. A variation of different panes handles the demands for insulation, transparency as well as shade without compromising the uniform character. In the interior, the wooden framework is as striking as the geometry. An ambition to provide a “Nordic” atmosphere to the setting, have called for an extensive use of fir in structures as well as surfaces.

Image Courtesy © Tord-Rikard Söderström

The 1000-seat auditorium dominates the building that also hosts facilities for administration and a faculty club. These are located on top of the hall, which was made possible thru large trusses. The entire structure stands on three legs, located together with stairs and elevators in each corner. The retracted supports have enabled uninterrupted spaces indoor as well as continuity in the outer form. Variation will arise from shifts in light, as architecture always has.

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

Image Courtesy © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB

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Category: Auditorium

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