Designing Folkets House: An Inclusive Space for Refugees
Architects and designers Rik Ekström of ARExA, Gustav Fagerström of Walter P Moore, Milad Barosen of the Milou Group and Nathan King of the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design teamed up to design Folkets House pavilion // Photo by Werner Nystrand
Nestled in Malmö, Sweden — a cultural melting pot — the Opportunity Space Festival witnessed the winning proposal for the design competition organized by the Van Alen Institute, the City of Malmö, White Arkitekter, Skanska, Individuell Människohjälp, and Architects Sweden. The pavilion named Folkets House, or "People's House," bore from the desire to create an inclusive space where refugees and longtime residents of Sweden could gather to learn new skills, find jobs, and in general make valuable connections to further their economic process.
The palm-shaped, pop-up structure was established in Enskifteshagen Park and shaped by curved wooden beams that radiated from its center. The elaborate, umbrella-like structure was not only affordable and easy to work with, but durable as well. The chosen material for the canopy — Dartex — is typically used for hospital bed coverings and is known for its elasticity and water resistance. British specialty contractor Architen Landrell was a pivotal project partner in this regard, assisting in the final engineering, fabrication planning, and assembly of the fabric membrane.
Through ingenuity, careful design, and strategic use of new and unfamiliar materials, the team was able to bring their philanthropic vision to life.
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