Main image courtesy of K Vant

At World of Volvo in Gothenburg, Sweden, a new experience centre will unite the Volvo Group and Volvo Cars to share history, traditions and the future of the famed Swedish brand in a single structure entirely build from wood.

Design centred on Swedish ethos

Gothenburg, home to many of the city’s museums, parks and entertainment venues, will house the 22 000m²/236 805ft² building, which is expected to be completed in late 2023, with the timber construction that started in the spring of 2021. 

World of Volvo is designed around the Swedish concept of “allemansrätten”, denoting the fundamental right that all citizens share to nature – the right to roam freely on any land (public or private), showing consideration for nature and for others. This tenet has become not just a right, but a central part of the Swedish ethos and one that lives in citizens, businesses and organisations alike – Volvo included.

Credit: R Hjortshoj

Special circular form

The circular form of World of Volvo, encompassing both the care of nature and consideration for people, encourages visitors to make their own experience both inside and outside, regardless of whether they hold tickets to the exhibitions inside.

Modern approach to timber construction

World of Volvo’s timber construction is the most forward-facing and most traditional element of the project. While Sweden (like many Nordic countries) has a long tradition of timber construction, World of Volvo takes a decidedly modern approach.

The beams and columns are built from glulam timber, a wood product that constitutes multiple layers of dimensional lumber bonded by a durable moisture-resistant structural adhesive.

Credit: R Hjortshoj

Computer-controlled fabrication allows curved glulam pieces to be cut with a high degree of precision.

Rigidity and continuity in the structure are guaranteed with metal connectors that can be hidden inside the wooden members.

The floor slabs are made of locally sourced cross-laminated timber (CLT).

“Our goal was to give form to something very essential to the Swedish spirit. World of Volvo’s circular form, the timber materiality, its integration with the landscape and, fundamentally, its openness – these things are all parts of a core collective identity,” says Martin Stenberg Ringnér, associate design director for Sweden at Henning Larsen.

Referencing and embracing nature

The reference to nature in the arcing “branches” and roof “canopy” is by design, with the concept for the structure centred around the idea of The Mountain (the landscape and building’s base) and The Tree (the building itself).

The large landscape that surrounds the building brings the nature of Sweden to the centre of Gothenburg, covering the area in delicate flowers and native plants that bloom between rocky outcroppings and meandering paths.

Just like in the landscapes across the country, visitors are encouraged to inhabit the landscape, keeping in mind the principle of “allemansrätten” – leave no trace.

Growing out from The Mountain are three vast “Trees”, their trunks large enough to contain small exhibit spaces, vertical circulation, bran exhibition and service functions. The open space between the trees is left largely empty for sculptural stairs (the fertile Swedish forest floor) that link the level and exhibit items that dot the floor.

Credit: K Vant

The interior space blends smoothly with the outdoors, floor-to-ceiling glass facades creating a seamless transition into the sprawling nature beyond.

The construction site

Located along Mölndalsån, the site for World of Volvo links to a promenade that traces the stream’s eastern bank up to Gothenburg’s city centre. Several green and functional cross-links of different types connect both sides of the river, allowing visitors to wind their way towards the site as they choose. While these links promote physical accessibility for walking and cycling, they also restore Mölndalsån’s ecological and visual connectivity.

The E6 highway passes the other side of World of Volvo, from which travellers will catch a high-speed glimpse of the project’s tilted roof and exhibitions inside.

World of Volvo is expected to reach completion in late 2023, with the doors opening to visitors in 2024.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to https://henninglarsen.com/en/projects/featured/1821-wov for the information in this editorial.

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