Sundsvall, Sweden | 12,000 m2
New Arts Centre and Theatre Building
International competition

Project Information

The new arts centre and theatre building in Sundsvall will occupy a beautiful location between the two hills that enclose the city, facing the Selangeran River. It will create a lively meeting place along the waterfront for residents and visitors, alongside an imposing group of warehouses that are the symbolic remains of a long tradition of shipping and trading.

The new complex has a powerful architectural identity that will give the building a landmark status. A horizontal structural grid in the form of a hexagonal mesh is overlaid on the site, acting both as datum level and as design language. The fluid forms of the three new auditoria are built within the voids of the mesh. It is this mesh that gives an identity to the complex, not only as the principal structural element, but also on a smaller scale, as a brise-soleil to the glazed façades. The existing Kulture Magasinet will be accessed from the new central foyer along its eastern façade. The three new auditoria all connect to the foyer as a ‘string of pearls’. These in turn separate the public spaces from the serviced areas to the east. These ancillary ‘back of house’ spaces are set behind a meandering ‘rock face’, where openings provide access for deliveries and underground parking. The working side of the complex is as important as the public face, and is clearly visible in this prominent location.

To further consolidate the relation between old and new, the orthogonal grid of the Kulture Magasinet glazing is continued and fragmented across the new roofs as openings and photovoltaic panels. This space is naturally lit through roof lights that deflect the light across the space. To the south, facing the old city, is the principal entrance. All spaces are reached from the main foyer and this also connects to the west-facing public terraces that overlook the water. Restaurants and bars are freely organised in the foyer and spill out into the open in good weather. A continuous column-free space-frame roof encloses the central space and can be accessed by the public. This connects with the masonry walls of the Magasinet at high level and allows views across the sculpted roof forms.

Principal materials are sourced locally. Internal surfaces are faced in stone and the same material is carried through to the outside public areas as paving, river walls and benches. The familiar material is used in all civic areas and reinforces the links with the old town. The envelope above is clad in standing seam aluminium sheet that celebrates Sundsvall as the major producer of Swedish aluminium. It acts as an emblem for the modern city. The quality of the material responds to the fluid forms, and laid in a linear pattern it reflects and illuminates the water. Glazed areas are protected from solar gain by the expanded aluminium mesh, acting as a brise soleil that maintains the apparently seamless envelope and replicates the hexagonal structural grid. Generous landscaping provides for a tree planting programme along the waterfront, forming a glade of trees that protects the public open space, and the transformation of the highway into a tree-lined boulevard.

Name: Mesh
Architects: Matteo Cainer Architects
Location: Sundsvall, Sweden
Client: Municipality of Sundsvall, City Planning Offices
Programme: New Arts Centre and Theatre Building
Project size: Project 12,000 m2 / site 25,000 m2
MCA Principal: Matteo Cainer
MCA Team: Avigael Perez, Nina Bobinac

Sundsvall, Sweden | 12,000 m2
New Arts Centre and Theatre Building
International competition