Mobilia - a shopping center becomes a neighborhood

Four questions to Per Aage Nilsson, contract manager for the Mobilia project at FOJAB arkitekter.

Mobilia is buzzing with activity - what's going on behind the walls?
- We are in full swing with the third phase. It means nothing less than the emergence of a whole new neighborhood. There will be housing, commerce, culture, healthcare, fitness and parking. This stage covers about 66,000 square meters in the central part of Mobilia. Now there will be a structure like a city with streets, pedestrian streets, places and blocks. Here, as well as towards Per Albin Hanssons väg, the buildings open up with entrances to streets and alleys, just like in the traditional inner city environment. Across this, the new coherent bicycle path runs in an east-west direction and on the surrounding streets there will be bus stops for both regional and local buses, perhaps trams," says Per-Aage Nilsson, project manager for the project at FOJAB.

This is the site of a piece of Malmö history. How does that affect the design?
- Yes, it's really exciting. Here was one of Malmö's largest female workplaces, MAB, Manufaktur AB, with more employees than Kockums. The facades at that time, at the turn of the last century, were designed and built as beautiful brick architecture. The entire interior was ordered as a prefabricated structure with steel columns and wooden trusses in sawtooth form to bring in daylight. Much is preserved under layers of superstructure, so a lot of the work involves picking out and renovating the masonry. Some is supported while waiting for a new interior, while other parts are demolished and rebuilt. "We not only preserve but strengthen the industrial character and are happy to tell Mobilia's story. For example, we have made three meter high caryatids in graphic concrete. The motifs are three different fashion photographs from the 1950s, two of which were taken by Karin Olofsdotter, a female pioneer in fashion photography.

Further expansion of shopping centers in Malmö - how will Mobilia compete?
- From being a textile metropolis around 1900, the situation for Malmö changed. Competition from other countries led to the closure of production at Mobilia in 1967. Instead, a shopping center emerged, and it is safe to say that Mobilia is well-established and successful as a commercial location. As well as adding more shops, the area is becoming part of city life in a wider sense. Housing, together with restaurants, cafés, fitness and cultural facilities that have different opening hours than the shops, will lead to life and movement both in and to and from the area almost around the clock.

How do you feel about working on the project?
- This has been going on for a few years now. Our partner Jais-Nielsen White Arkitekter won the competition for the design of the entire Mobilia area back in 2008. The year before, Atrium Ljungberg had acquired everything except the housing in the north. "In order to keep the business going, we have worked with a phased approach and are designing while building is going on. It is an extremely exciting process where everyone works together to achieve the goals. The City of Malmö is on board - they are working to ensure that the surrounding streets are not thoroughfares, but have the character of city streets with good crossings for pedestrians and cyclists. "Our client, Atrium Ljungberg, builds to own and chooses good quality solutions and materials. I personally enjoy working on projects that contain everything. All the elements that create a good, safe and stimulating city life. I am absolutely convinced that this is what we will see when everything is completed in 2013.