County Administration Building


Malmö, 1975


This building either illustrates a radical departure from Nyberg’s previous works, or their logical conclusion. Again, it is a structure shaped by program but constrained by clear geometry. More than an object in a cityscape, its original intent was to be tied to its context, bridging and subsequently penetrating the adjacent building to reveal a hidden restaurant and patio in the form of a rotated square in the old building’s courtyard. Adjacent, there is evidence of an underworld; a long ramp that pierces the earth to access a subterranean parking garage. Lewerentz was looking for work at the time and was given the job to design the handrails that flank the ramp, a job he spent considerable time laboring upon.

Its ground floor was to be open and public, radically transparent at the lower level with exquisite details of thin stainless steel profiles allowing the glass to float between the massive concrete piers. These efforts were subverted dur­ing construction, without permission of the architect, as standard aluminum framing was substituted. Even with the building’s link to its surroundings demolished and its ground floor closed off with seemingly impenetrable mirrored glass, it still manages to carry a significant civic weight. Its skin of relentlessly repetitive window framed and ‘dental molding’ re-contextualized in a sliced waffle slab’s edge appear almost decorative, but are merely products of opportunity found in rational construction techniques. The building’s exposed ductwork is often interpreted as an expressive move by the architect when in fact it was a programmatic necessity that then provided a ‘free’ articulation to be taken advantage in both a formal and material fashion.

The building is a technical frame that facilitates both an open and compartmentalized office landscape. The ground floor with its offices open to the public became, for several reasons, programmed as a open office. The upper two office floors on the other hand were programmed as room offices for a future conversion to office landscape or other forms of large rooms. This hybrid wish created in itself special functional requirements with regard to room heights and ventilation systems. After some problems the demands finally created a stainless steel welded ‘costume’ of air-intake tubes on the façade of the building. These tubes also contained central heating pies and electrical cables. The ducts, the edges of the beams, the wall sections below the windows and the projections above the windows give an extra form of articulation.

—Architect’s Description