The 2016 World Architecture News Awards (WAN Awards) in the category of “Adaptive Reuse, Residential & Mixed Use” went to Bornstein Lyckefors Architects. In the deep forests of Värmland, the Swedish office transformed an unaspiring former school building into an architectural highlight, simply by fixing raw logs to the façade.
The Torsby Finnskog Centrum
In 2013, the Värmland’s Museum decided to build a new exhibition room to explain the history of the so-called Forest Finns, who settled in the forests of Middle Sweden in the early 17th century. In times of global migration, the museum saw an increased relevance to tell the story of this culture. Previously, the Finnskogcentrum, which is a branch of the Värmland’s Museum, had to share facilities with other institutions. Therefore, the jury of the WAN Awards asks for a recognisable place for temporarily as well as permanent exhibitions, situated in Lekvattnet, the original settlement area of the Finns. The chosen building of a primary school had some public places in its central positioning but clearly not adequate to serve as a museum.
“Incredibly Simple but Strong Concept”
One thing Bornstein Lyckefors Architects did, was to redesign the spatial configuration of the former school by creating larger spaces inside. The former classrooms were integrated into larger, but still separated, show rooms, while other interventions to the building’s structure were minimized. But the more notable transformation took place outside: Raw logs from the local forest are fixed to the façade, giving it a recognisable and exciting look. The used materials should refer to the Finn culture, which cultivated the area by slash-and-burn agriculture. The jury was impressed by the “incredibly simple and strong concept” to change the building’s appearance. With a very low cost and innovative approach, the former school was transformed into a notable museum, which also combines old and new styles.