Stormathon: Revitalising Malmö's industrial buildings

Students from Malmö University recently participated in a Stormathon together with the property company Trianon, the architectural firm FOJAB and culture pilots from the City of Malmö. The challenge: To give historic cultural buildings a new life that can enrich Malmö's city life.

The Stormathon was organised in collaboration with Lodz University in Poland as part of the work of the University Network of Post-industrial Cities alliance (UNIC), which Malmö University is a member of. The focus of the idea generation day was Spiralen 10, an industrial area at Sorgenfri, in Malmö, rich in history and culture that represents an important part of Malmö's industrial heritage.

The participating students from the Department of Urban Studies and design students from the School of Arts and Communication worked for 12 hours to come up with ideas to answer the questions:

  • How can we reuse historic buildings to meet modern-day requirements?
  • How can these buildings contribute meaningfully to our cityscape?

The day started with presentations from Trianon's CEO Olof Andersson, architect Tobias Henriks from Fojab and Amir Ghotaslou, Cultural Liaison Officer at the City of Malmö. Followed by a tour of the many artist collectives in the building, it was time for the students to start thinking about sustainable and creative solutions, supported by Jenny Levhag and Pablo Vilches from MaU Innovation.

Balancing different interests

This was no easy challenge that was presented to the students. Many of the buildings in the area are in poor condition and need a lot of maintenance, but Trianon, which owns and manages the area, is striving to create a balance between conservation and development.

The architectural firm Fojab is working on a new detailed plan on behalf of Trianon in dialogue with the municipality. Tobias Henriks explains how these types of collaborative development projects are becoming increasingly common.

“These types of projects, where we don't start from an empty lot but work with existing buildings, trying to preserve what can be preserved, will become increasingly common. It requires close collaboration and a high willingness from several actors to work together to move forward,” he says.

The area is currently home to many artists and creative professionals. There is a strong desire to preserve these spaces for artists, whilst considering the needs of other tenants and opening up new areas for development.

Artist Maria E. Harrysson, from the artist collective Sulfur, says she is worried that Malmö will go the way of many other cities, where industrial areas that are home to many different cultural actors are renovated with sharp rent increases or demolished and turned into residential areas. When asked why she chose to work in Malmö, she answers: “I love being in Malmö — the artist community and collective are really close and the atmosphere and culture of Malmö is interesting for me as an artist.”

Caroline Wigren-Kristoferson, professor at the Department of Urban Studies, explains how she has been collaborating with the City of Malmö over the past year on issues related to different space needs, including spaces for artists:

“Organising a Stormathon was a creative and active way to collaborate with the city, a real estate company and the students. The lectures during the day were enriching for our research and the process is also interesting from a research perspective. Through this Stormathon, we have been actively working on collaboration through education and research, which is great. The activity is also part of UNIC where our colleagues in Poland are implementing similar initiatives. We look forward to learning from each other and hopefully implementing it virtually next year!”

At the end of the Stormathon, the student groups presented their design proposals to a jury with representatives from the City of Malmö, Trianon, CSAM (Centre for Studies of Land Use), Form/Design Centre and the Sulfur Studio Association.

What is Stormathon?

Stormathon is an innovation development activity, developed at Malmö University, which gives students the opportunity to develop skills in creativity, problem-solving and entrepreneurship in collaboration with business, public and non-profit sectors.

Cover Image by Jenny Levhag.

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