"Something out of the ordinary"

Three questions to Joachim Lundquist of FOJAB arkitekter, who designed the housing block in the northern part of the Folkets Park area in Linköping.

It's an exciting proposal for a residential neighborhood that you have developed, and I know that you have worked intensively and enthusiastically on it. If you were to pick out the three most important qualities of the project, what would they be?
- The first thing I think about is the identity of the building. When you come home to your house, you want to feel pride and well-being - "this is my house, this is where I live!". Many older houses, for example from the turn of the century, have this quality and are popular to live in. Often this is linked to a level of craftsmanship and detailing that is difficult to recreate today. But even with modern architecture you can create a strong and positive character, and I think we have succeeded in doing that.

The building has a strong form and a clear idea, and you are greeted by a glazed, welcoming entrance portico. The balconies with their recessed plant beds, the triangular penthouses on the roof and the dark brick with its pine trunk colored windows give the exterior structure and character.

Another important aspect is the layout of the apartments. They are based on an idea with a large continuous room for socializing and a more private part that can be screened off. There is a circulation in the apartment, a quality that is not so common nowadays. This, combined with generous room sizes, allows you to design your home in many different ways.

The living room, with wonderful light from two directions, has a large kitchen island designed for cooking together. From here you can get out onto the balcony with its grow boxes and bring in herbs and put them straight into the pots. I think this is very nice, but there is also the possibility of shielding if you prefer a more traditional kitchen.

The third quality is that greenery is always present. Being able to look out at the swaying tree tops is something that we know is good for people. Residential complements, such as the environmental station, bicycle storage and garage access are bright and attractive on the ground floor behind semi-transparent glass panels. You can't clearly see inside, but you can feel the light and greenery outside. The balconies' and terraces' possibilities for cultivation also contribute to the feeling of greenery and life.

Futurologists predict that the upcoming generation will be more stationary in their homes. How do you see the project from this perspective?
- The generality of the apartments has so much potential to accompany you through life. The dimensions of the rooms make them ideal for many different functions. Couples' bedrooms, sleeping and play rooms, dining rooms, study rooms, residents' rooms - the only limit is your imagination. As all rooms have at least two entrances, you can combine them as you wish.

The house as a whole is accessible and practical. You drive your car down to the garage and take the elevator up from there with grocery bags, stroller, wheelchair and other things that life can bring.

Finally, do you have a favorite apartment in the house?
- I like them all, but if I had to choose one, it would be the most original. It is a four-room corner apartment and it surrounds an inner atrium courtyard that runs the full height of the house. The fourth wall of the courtyard is a plant wall. This is an uncommon solution in Sweden but is common on the continent. In this case, it arose from the need to create a quiet side of an apartment as it faces the road. The greenery, peace and the possibility to see from one side of the apartment to the other via the courtyard make this apartment extraordinary.

I think that's something you can say about the whole project - it's something out of the ordinary.