Petersen’s custom bricks unite old and new in a Stockholm project

Danish architects 3XN have successfully combined a fully restored 19th century property and newly constructed office building in a historic Stockholm district.Östermalm district.

Astoriahuset & Nybrogatan 17 re-established this site as a major landmark in Östermalm, and also won 3XN the internationally acclaimed MIPIM Award in the Best Renovated Building category in 2022.

3XN’s design carefully blends old and new through form, material and architectural details.

People in Stockholm are justifiably concerned about new construction projects in the city center – in particular, previous redevelopments from the 1960s have been widely criticized. Therefore, it was essential that the project complement its historical setting,” says Audon Obedal, Senior Partner, 3XN, and Project Partner.

We started by learning the architectural history of both the city as a whole and the neighborhood. We then developed a number of architectural concepts that would unite the old and new buildings and incorporate features from the surrounding area, albeit with a contemporary twist,” continues Obdal.

Astoriahuset & Nybrogatan 17 was completed in 2020, the Astoria House, a multi-story building from 1873, was restored, and a new connected office building constructed. The idea was to combine offices and apartments to create life in the area around Nebrogatan, a street home of classic ornate brick or plaster houses, with pitched roofs facing the streets and gables looking out onto the backyards.

“When you introduce something new to a historic neighborhood, it is important that you add value. It was necessary to bring something back to the city and make Astoriahuset and Nybrogatan 17 attract different kinds of activities and city life,” Opal comments.

Before it closed in 2007, Astoria on Nybrogatan was one of Stockholm’s oldest and most popular movie theaters. The Astoria House, the building that houses the cinema, was originally home to the luxury apartments, with the upper floors later converted into offices.

The preserved part of the complex, including the facade and entrance to the former cinema in Niprogatan, has been sensitively returned to its original residential use. The Astoria House now has a restaurant on the ground floor (Brasserie Astoria) and 18 renovated apartments on five floors. Although extensively renovated, the design of each apartment respectfully maintains historical expression. The iconic canopy of the old cinema has been restored, to represent the entrance to the brasserie. The restaurant spans several floors where the old cinema used to be, in an extension that was torn down to make way for a new element: a state-of-the-art office building.

Nybrogatan 17 complements the architectural style of Ostermalm. The new office building offers the flexibility of traditional office spaces and co-working environments to encourage communication and create space for different ways of working. Inside, a spiral marble staircase runs the full height of the building, encouraging the use of stairs for movement. The staircase ends in a glass atrium that attracts an abundance of natural light.

The surrounding area played an important role in the choice of material palette, inspired by local buildings.

“An important design decision that connects the two buildings visually is the facade, a modern interpretation of the repetitive facade language of 19th century buildings. We like to note how these two buildings relate to form, how they stand out from each other by style and color, and most of all: how they add new and vibrant life life to Östermalm,” 3XN.

In fact, the most striking feature of the 3XN’s design unfolds on the surface. The unique two-story construction forms a new pitched roof over the Astoria House. From here, the roof rises in a twisting motion over the new building and ends at a right angle – a tribute to the adjacent fire walls. The process transforms the two floors within the pitched roof into regular office floors.

For this maneuver to work, the roof and facades of the office building had to be covered with the same material,” explains Oppdal. This naturally led us to brick, which is used in old buildings on the street. It was important to us that the new building looked damaged from the start, as if it had been there for years and years. But we also wanted it to have a contemporary look that fits the era. We felt that the bricks from Petersen could be the element that holds these two together, especially if we go beyond traditional brickwork with joints and come up with a new way of installing brick cladding.”

The architects worked with Petersen Tegl, running various experiments to find just the right bricks and a new approach to installation. The result was a special edition Kolumba, 800 mm long, in a deep rusty red color. To make the most of the brick’s rich play of color and hand-moulded texture – the source of the unique patina – the bricks are installed perpendicular to the facade, with a wide rustic underside facing outward. Naturally, giving this brick a whole new aesthetic.

The horizontal lines of the Astoria House continue to the new construction, the same as the original oneRegularly spaced windows give way to more transparency and an increasingly harmonious rhythm of brick-clad columns and floor-to-ceiling windows. Steel screens in front of the windows give the facade a compact appearance when viewed from an oblique angle, the landscape from the street, and help the building blend in with the closed facades of its historic surroundings.

Steel screens are not only for decoration, they are our modern and functional decoration style. Its lattice structure forms a pattern that mimics the joints we have dispensed with on the brick facade. In this way, the screens refer to and contrast with the handcrafted, live bricks,” Oppdal points out.

“We put a lot of effort into designing the brick facade, steel trim, and roof shape to give Nybrogatan 17 an authentic look and sensibility that creates a thoughtful connection to the neighborhood – not least the neighboring Astoriahuset,” Opal concludes.

Astoriahuset & Nybrogatan 17 is indeed a great result.

“We are very proud of the result where architecture from the late nineteenth century and modern and modern architecture meet in a quiet and open way on an inaccessible square for many years. We received incredibly positive responses after the opening of Astoriahuset & Nybrogatan 17, which we see as evidence that a high level of ambition has been achieved,” says Victor Sandberg, project development manager at Humlegården.

Photos: RasmusHjortshøj, Coast Stuio; Ulf Cylander

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