August 10, 2007

Malmo (Sweden)

The Oresund Bridge (built in 2000) connects Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmo. At more than 7,800 metres in length, the combined two-track rail and four-lane road is the longest of its kind in Europe. Crossing by car isn't cheap (290 Swedish Kroners, or $43 dollars), but a train ticket is more affordable ($13). We spent only a day in Malmo, not nearly enough.

There's something about the Turning Torso that is very alluring... it continues to capture your eye from all angles. The overall form is very graceful, gently rotating as it reaches into the sky. The 54-floor skyscraper (second highest apartment building in Europe) was designed by Santiago Calatrava, construction was completed in 2005. It was reminisent of the Lyon-Santolas Aeroport Railway Station in the way it draws attention as a free-standing sculptural element. Strangely kinetic and emotionally engaging. Being the only tower in the context here, it works really well, setting the tone for Malmo. The building was inspired by Calatrava's 1999 white marble sclulpture, Twisting Torso. (sketch here) The tower rotates a full 90-degrees as it climbs upwards over nine blocks of 'cubes,' each containing 5 floors. The facade of the tower is made of curved aluminum panels. Following the concrete perimeter column is a steel spine that provides attachment for horizontal and inclined tapered steel tubes that reach back to steel anchors embedded in shear walls. This exoskeleton of steel provides wind resistance and dampens building vibrations, while the concrete perimeter column resists vertical loads. Contrary to popular belief, the tower does not have twisting elevator shafts.

No word on what the spaces within are like, the tower is locked-down at the base, surrounded by a 'moat' filled with water and accessible only through a walkway that leads to a glass vestibule. Adjacent to the tower was the Turning Torso "Experience Center," where for 30 swedish Kroner you can view styrofoam models and watch a "making of" video on a flatscreen. (We declined, having already seen the "Extreme Engineering" Discovery Channel special). There were also several galleries in the complex showcasing Turning Torso inspired art. (Hmmn.)

Adjacent to the tower in Malmo's newest district, "The Western Harbor," was an open promenade with inspiring views of the Oresund Sound. The sky cleared up and the weather was perfect... we sat in the sun for the afternoon and took it all in. The area was built for the Bo01 "City of Tomorrow" (link here) expo in 2001, and development appeared to be expanding, with several interesting case-study houses and apartment complexes under construction.

On the walk back towards the train station, we went in the direction of some live music we heard playing earlier and came into a concrete skate park, the Stapelbaddsparken, filled mostly with kids. We were impressed with their skating tricks... and the fact that many of them seemed less than 10 years old!
There were many industrial buildings and remnants scattered around Vastra Hamnen and next to the more recent developments, echoing Malmo's roots in shipbuilding.

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