The original building was designed between 1918 and 1925 by Gothenburg architect Ernst Torulf in a mannerist classical style using brick with stone embellishments, and slate Mansard roofs with copper detailing, now patinated green with time. The Post Office is now a listed national monument. Architects Semrén & Månsson's deceptively simple strategy was to close-up the gap in the original horseshoe-shaped plan with a new addition, returning inwards to occupy the old Post Office loading yard. The existing building was restored and adapted to suit its new use while respecting its original character, detailing and protected status. The remainder of the yard was also infilled with new accommodation at lower levels and a glazed roof floods public areas with light.
A New Landmark for the City
The intervention closing off the yard creates a new, open public front to the building's east side facing onto Åkareplatsen and Odinsgatan. The infill proceeds from either side – one wing clad with copper, the other slate, the same materials used on the old Post Office – and aligns with the original eaves level. Where the wings meet, they rise up together as a pair of monolithic forms separated by a vertical sliver of glass. The resulting 13-storey tower creates a new landmark for the city and also signals a subsidiary entrance to the hotel: the main entrance, announced by its opulent gold mosaic, is retained on the west frontage of the existing building serving Drottningtorget, a public square.
The new additions respect and reflect the horizontal grid of the old fenestration but break up the simple vertical alignment of openings. New facades are conceived as square panels each with horizontal bands of copper or slate and seamless flush glazing, apparently set at random. According to the architects, this crisp, flat striated surface was partly inspired by the Lajasalo church in Finland, with its horizontal strips of pre-patinated copper.
But here, verticality is re-introduced by the panel junctions, highlighted by the changes in colour of meeting horizontal bands of copper. Corners are expressed with a modern take on traditional vertical 'quoins' (seen on the original building) expressed as a thin strip – the 'thickness' of the panels – sometimes incorporating flush glazing amongst the copper. The façade grid remains uninterrupted throughout despite a rooftop sun terrace and open pool overlooking Gothenburg.
Rich Living Copper Surfaces
From the start, the architects anticipated the new facades as thin construction, sheet cladding. The solution involved discrete panels, each prefabricated in the factory then installed complete on site to form a 'curtain wall' external skin, independent of the structural floors. This enabled close control of the complexities of the design of individual panels within the overall façade layout, with different sizes of flush glazing and a varied, striated copper surface. This was made up of copper in three strip heights – 200, 250 and 300 mm – and three different intensities of pre-patinated copper, by varying the amount of green over the dark brown background. The combination of these elements enabled the creation of rich, 'living' copper surfaces.
The Clarion Hotel Post site enjoys a pivotal location at the very centre of Gothenburg, next to the central station and the major Nordstaden shopping centre. The new tower responds with a civic role as an iconic urban focal point, tying together axes across the city that have long been disjointed. Most obviously it aligns with Odinsgatan, closing off views down that straight avenue. It also rises above the old Post Office when viewed from the public square and other key locations in the centre.