Sweden's most social student housing opens

Not a student corridor and not private apartments, but something in between. The Villa at Helsingkrona nation in Lund is now being inaugurated with 65 new student apartments, according to a concept developed jointly by FOJAB and the nation.

Helsingkrona already has traditional corridor rooms with shared kitchens in the "Huset" from 1958 and proper student apartments in the newer "Tornet", designed by FOJAB and completed in 2015. Recently, however, there has been a growing desire for a different type of accommodation. After the pandemic, there was also a pent-up need for social interaction.

- Collective housing was what most people wanted. Therefore, together with FOJAB, we wanted to develop an environmentally and economically sustainable accommodation, which could serve as a complement to our immensely popular corridor rooms, says Sigge Meurling, curator at Helsingkrona nation.

New concept
This led to the new concept home 'Friends for Life'. The form of housing is most similar to large apartments with a modern mix of private and shared spaces. The typology is new in Lund and the only built example in Sweden is in Vallastaden in Linköping.

The villa at Helsingkrona Nation is an eight-storey building with a ten-room apartment on each floor. On the top floor there is a smaller version of the large apartment with five rooms. Each student has their own bedroom, toilet and shower, but shares the kitchen, dining area and living room. The generous common areas with spectacular ceiling heights are integrated into the layout in a completely different way to the traditional student corridor. There are balconies with growing spaces and a communal rooftop terrace with views for miles. On the ground floor, a restaurant serves as a soft interface between the students and the rest of the city.

Reduced use of materials
The design of the Villa encourages meetings and interaction. But just as important as social sustainability is economic and ecological sustainability.

- The large apartments are extremely compact and weighted in favor of the common areas. In this way, we can minimize the building's footprint and material consumption and thus construction costs and rent. We believe that students today prefer to pay for high-quality, efficient space with smart solutions and solid materials that last over time," says architect Mats Norrlid of FOJAB.

Cool features
The Villa has several clever features such as site-built furniture, recessed lighting and smart storage to minimize wear and tear when moving in and out, requiring less new purchases for new students.

- We have always felt that FOJAB has been good at realizing the special conditions and requirements of student housing. This applies to everything from the choice of materials to unique solutions that cannot be found in ordinary residential buildings. The architects absorbed our experience and had many ideas themselves, as they had worked with student housing before," says Philip Ohlin, construction foreman at Helsingkrona nation.

From idea to final inspection
FOJAB acted as general consultant and responsible architect for Helsingkrona nation throughout the project and was responsible for keeping the consultant group together, from the detailed plan to the procurement of the construction contractor. Then as a design responsible architect all the way to the final inspection.

- "We would never have gotten this far with the project if we hadn't been able to combine a fantastic collaboration with Helsingkrona with the confidence to keep the project together from start to finish," says architect and general consultant Mattias Hedberg Ek at FOJAB.

Upgraded technology
The construction of the Villa was accompanied by an extensive overhaul of the existing 1950s house designed by Sten Samuelsson. Technical installations were replaced and the two buildings were technically integrated to meet modern operational and energy requirements. In this way, Helsingkrona Nation can further reduce its climate footprint.


Facts and figures
Area: Approximately 2500 m² BTA
Number of residents: 59-65 students
Helsingkrona's Head of Mission: Peter Runnerström
Responsible architect and general consultant: Mattias Hedberg Ek, FOJAB
Assistant responsible architect: Mats Norrlid, FOJAB
General contractor: Thages