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Brick House, Sweden : Gothenburg Property

Swedish residential building – design by Unit Arkitektur AB

24 Nov 2010

Brick House Gothenburg

Location: Göteborg, Sweden

Architects: Unit Arkitektur AB

Brick House, Göteborg, Sweden
photograph : Krister Engström

In this part of Gothenburg, a lot of exclusive villas were built in the mid 20th century. Today, when people with money prefer to build closer to the coast, there is an aura of “old money” in the area. In this area the nationally- famous Architect Jan Wallinder (JW) bought a plot and built a house to himself and his family at the end of the 1950s.

The result was a house firmly rooted in a Scandinavian modernist building tradition. A brick wall on the outside of the L-shaped building encloses a atrium with dark wooden paneling and generous wood frame glazing on the inside. At Jan Wallinders death a few years ago, the house got new proprietors, who felt the need to add another 60 square meters to the building.

Brick House Göteborg Swedish Brick House Brick House Gothenburg
photos : Krister Engström

The house is as carefully planned as the rest of JW:s production. When Unit Arkitektur AB got the commission the originally almost rural courtyard had been slightly altered with an added wooden decking and white awnings to compensate a birch that had been cut down.

Unit Arkitektur AB felt obliged to ask us the question if JW would have altered the building if the need would have occurred during his lifetime, and how he then would have done it. During a interview in 1998 * that dealt with preservation issues he expresses a rather pragmatic attitude: “I havn´t thought about where to draw the line, it´s a difficult issue. You shall not distrust the possibilities of your own generation or your own time.

If one dares not replace old structures this preservation leads to an absurd situation.” Unit Arkitektur AB thought that the key was to implement the change with the same care as the original building bear evidence of.

Brick House Sweden Brick House Göteborg Swedish Brick House
photos : Unit Arkitektur

Unit Arkitektur AB decided to follow the existing color palette, but to benefit from the achievements being done in material and production technologies during the past 50 years.

The outer protective brick wall continues on the exterior of the extension. To make a clear distinction between the old and the new brick wall, the bricklayers built the wall with the same masonry bond but with a relief. This gives the often too perfect new bricks a “dirtiness” due to the shadows.

The new facade towards the courtyard consists of a multi layered wall consisting of a textile curtain followed by a 23 square meters large sliding glass partition, a wrought iron railing and a system of CNC-drilled folding doors in compact laminated panels on the outside.

The existing roof underneath the extension could neither be used statically as a floor slab and nor be taken away since it was “integrated” in the interior fittings. Therefore an additional layer of steel beams was integrated in the roof construction to handle the new loads.

All existing wooden windows have been renovated by a separate contractor.

Two brick walls have been dismantled and rebuilt with the same stones because there was no ventilation slit in the existing construction.

* ”Arkitekter berättar” av Mats Enander och Christian Johansson s. 68

Brick House Göteborg Swedish Brick House Brick House Gothenburg
photos : Unit Arkitektur


The brick as a building material has undergone few changes during the thousands of years it has been used. In the 50’s the Danish brick format of 228x108x54 – which JW used in this particular building – was unusual in Sweden and it was a statement to choose it. Today, when there is only one brickyard left in Sweden, ironically the Danish format is mainstream.

The existing facades consist of non load bearing brick walls but with a detailing that gives the impression of a massive brick building. The new walls have stayed true to this illusion with deep window-recesses. In accordance with his low key architecture JW has used the most generic of all masonry bonds – the running bond.

This is the Swedish builders’ favorite bond! Humble as they are, Unit Arkitektur AB used the same bond but with some distortion to give it more structure and depth. The distortion was to recess some of the stones to give the surface a relief. After several tests a recession of 10 mm in a given pattern gave the effect we were looking for.


The outer layer in the multi layered wall facing the private inner yard, consists of 24 folding doors. The doors were originally planned to be constructed out of wood but durability and maintenance concerns made us chose compact laminate boards instead. However, the typical slit in wooden shutters defined the basic module in the new pattern.

The outer layer protect against the sun and possible curious neighbours. The degree of transparency i.e. the widths of the slits vary according to the degree of privacy needed. In the master bedroom were a high degree of privacy was requested, the the slits are very narrow. And accordingly, the facade outside the TV-room has wider slits.

The pattern has been developed in a parametric design process with the program Rhino plus the plug-in Grasshopper. All doors have individual patterns and together they create a macro pattern that reflects the different degrees of privacy in the rooms behind the folding doors.

The folding doors have been fabricated by means of CNC-milling. The producer used an 8 mm milling tool to mill the 10 mm thick white compact laminate boards.

Brick House Göteborg Sweden

Brick House Sweden – Building Information

Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Client: Kristina och Jonas
Architects: Unit Arkitektur AB (
Design Principal: Mikael Frej + Klas Moberg
Project Architects: Frans Magnusson
Floor area: 60 sqm (extension)
Project year: 2009-10
Schüco systems: Doors/windows AWS/ADS 70 HI ; Sliding doors ASS 50
Fabricator: Västkustfasader

Photographs: Krister Engström / Unit Arkitektur

Brick House Sweden images / information from Unit Arkitektur

Location: Göteborg, Sweden

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