Client: Gällivare Municipality, Samhällsbyggnads- och teknikförvaltningen (SAMT)
Year: 2020
BTA: 23 000 sqm
Collaborators: Liljewall Architects
Assignment: Program design, systems management, final collaborative project design
Awards: Swedish Design Award by Rum 2021 and Guldstolen

Gällivare is growing and evolving. The new Kunskapshuset is home to the municipality’s upper-secondary school and an adult learning center. Together with Liljewall Architects, we have designed a flexible and beautiful educational setting that is ready for future needs for change and development.

Photographer: Anders Bobert

Kunskapshuset is replacing the existing upper secondary school in Malmberget, which will be closed due to expanding mining operations. This is an important part of the societal transformation presented under the vision: “A small Arctic town of world renown.” We wanted Kunskapshuset to give a nod to the soul of the area and contribute to an attractive downtown.

“Some major challenge with this project included how to reduce the current school’s overall size while improving the quality of the premises,” says Mats Jakobsson, lead architect for the assignment. “How would we incorporate the adult high school, and what opportunities were there for shared use? How would we handle a voluminous building in a small-scale context?”

Photographer: Anders Bobert
Photographer: Anders Bobert

Mining for inspiration

The finished building clearly reveals how nature and the mine inspired the design. The asymmetrical lines continuously redraw new proportions that change the overall impression as you move through the building. The building has both an urban feel and a mystical, natural quality that is connected to the mountains.

“It was important for us to consider the building’s structure based on the different circumstances of each side,” says Mats Jakobsson. “For example: the front façade, which faces what will be the new square; the small scale facing Storgatan; showing respect on the church side; and the dominance of the municipal administration building.”

Other aspects requiring consideration included how to build in a way that would give space to other future functions, such as the square and the multi-activity center, as well as how the building would contribute to commercial activities on Storgatan. Through close dialogue with educators from the high school and Lappland’s adult education centers, we decided on the new Kunskapshuset. The hope is that future students will find the setting both stimulating and well-planned.

Photographer: Anders Bobert

Gathering around the campfire

Photographer: Anders Bobert

The central staircase plays an important role inside, both as an element rooted in history and as a status-enhancing symbol. Impressive spaciousness and intricate architecture convey the importance of the school and its students, and the pride and hope of the community. The Dagbrottet staircase concludes with riser-style seating. Here, students and staff can gather around an open fireplace for discussions or lectures.

Materials and colors include wood, metal, concrete and sedum. The soothing palette creates a sense of balance in contrast to the red façade, glass panels and brass details of the building. The wood exterior is constructed with vertical wooden columns in patterns inspired by the local area. While the exterior shines in bright red, the soothing palette inside provides a sense of calm.

Photographer: Anders Bobert

Award-winning building

Kunskapshuset has received numerous awards and prestigious nominations. It was nominated for the 2020 Kasper Salin Prize, WAF 2021, INSIDE Awards 2021 and EUMies Awards 2022, and it won the Swedish Design Award by Rum 2021 and Guldstolen.

Photographer: Anders Bobert

The team behind this project


Jonas Jakobsson