The visitor centre stands by the water’s edge on filled and reclaimed ground. Care was taken to not disrupt the existing quayside, meaning that foundations were pile-driven to solid rock. The building’s irregular shape was determined by site constraints, but also gave rise to the sculptural nature of the building. By arranging six gables seawards and five facing inland, the irregular zig-zag of the rooflines becomes a contemporary interpretation of the region’s boathouses. Smooth timber-panels dyed Falun red clads the façades and roof, giving the visitor centre a uniform volume and its own personality in contrast with the older buildings of the archipelago.
An environmental gold standard
Kosterhavet visitor centre meets high demands relating to energy consumption, indoor environment and healthy construction materials. Constructed mainly from forestry-certified wood and running solely on renewable energy, the building embodies exceptionally low carbon. Water is supplied from a nearby osmosis unit, ventilation is climate-responsive, and geothermal heating is employed throughout. All these factors contributed to the building being awarded the Miljöbyggnad Guld standard.
The pleated roof form also shapes the interiors. Inside, the geometric contours are clad with pale white timber; maximising daylight and creating exhibition spaces where the elusive world beneath the surface of the water can be interpreted and explored by all.
Kosterhavet visitor centre is not just a tourist attraction, but a civic focal point; it was essential that the local community took ownership of the project as it developed. An efficient, creative co-design process was implemented, giving residents and local authorities an opportunity for direct involvement that cultivated a feeling of close connection to their new visitor centre.