HSB Turning Torso

Malmö, Sweden
Santiago Calatrava, FAIA

An architect's sculpture becomes inspiration for a sculptural residential tower.

In 1999, Santiago Calatrava was invited to design a mixed-use residential tower for a prominent site in Malmö’s Western Harbor area. The project was envisioned as an important part of the transformation of this area, located near the Öresund Bridge, which connects Sweden and Denmark. Once a decaying industrial area, the Western Harbor is rapidly becoming a mixed-use residential district and today features housing, restaurants, shops and businesses, a marina, and Malmö University.

HSB Turning Torso
Photo © Palladium Photodesign
HSB Turning Torso

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Calatrava based the tower’s form on one of his sculptures, Turning Torso, in which he abstracted the human form in movement as a stack of cubes elegantly positioned around a core. In HSB Turning Torso, the form is composed of nine box units, shaped like cubes with triangular tips.  These units, each of which houses five floors, are in effect sub-buildings of about 21,500 square feet each. The space between the units is used as technical space for facade maintenance.
The main load-bearing structure is a circular reinforced concrete core, whose center corresponds exactly to the rotation center of the floors. The core’s inner diameter is 34.8 feet and is constant. The thickness of the concrete is 8.2 feet at the bottom and gradually tapers to 1.3 feet at the top. Inside the core is the elevator and the staircase core, which is a secondary structural element.

Strengthening and stiffening the core is an exterior truss: a painted steel column, which stands apart from the main body of the building like an external spine. This spine is attached to each unit by large diagonal and horizontal steel struts. These elements connect the spine to a structural wall at the top of the unit, transferring shearing forces to the concrete core.  The spine itself is stabilized by pairs of smaller struts, which connect it to each floor of the unit.

The facade is made of approximately 2,800 curved aluminum panels and 2,250 flat glass windows.  There are some 300 panels in each unit.

Formal name of project: HSB Turning Torso

Location: Malmö, Sweden

Completion Date:
August 2005

Gross square footage: 18,000 m2 (193,500 sq.ft)

Owner: HSB Malmö

Santiago Calatrava, FAIA
713 Park Avenue
New York, NY  10021


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