A wooden experience centre inspired by the right to roam

Danish architectural firm Henning Larsen designed a circular wooden experience centre for Swedish brands Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, inspired by the Scandinavian landscape and ‘the right to roam’.

Called World of Volvo, the 22,000 sqm (237,000 ft2) experience centre and meeting place will be located in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is expected to be completed in 2023.

The centre 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.

While Sweden, like many Nordic countries, has a long tradition of timber construction, the centre is made with a modern twist. The beams and columns are made of glulam timber, a wood product that constitutes multiple layers of dimensional lumber bonded by a durable moisture-resistant structural adhesive. Computer-controlled fabrication allows the curved glulam pieces to be cut with a high degree of precision. Rigidity and continuity in the structure is guaranteed with metal connectors that can be hidden inside the wooden members. The floor slabs are made of locally sourced CLT, cross laminated timber.

The reference to nature in the arcing “branches” and roof “canopy” is by design, with the concept for the structure centered around the idea of The Mountain (the landscape and building’s base) and The Tree (the building itself.) 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, save for sculptural stairs (the fertile Swedish forest floor) that link the level and exhibit items that dot the floor. The interior space blends smoothly with the outdoors, a floor-to-ceiling glass façades creating a seamless transition into the sprawling nature beyond.

Images: Henning Larsen / KVANT