The pride of Gärsnäs gets a makeover
Meet the architects behind the Gärsnäs refurbishment.
In the village of Gärsnäs, the furniture factory that’s so rich in tradition has undergone a refurbishment and major facelift. Dive Architects are behind the changes, with founders Ia Hjärre and Andy Nettleton transforming Gärsnäs into a closely connected, functional and inviting facility.
What was your plan for the Gärsnäs refurbishment in Österlen?
It has been a very thorough process that began by assessing what the needs actually were. Now that it’s done, everything seems so clear and easy. In dialogue with the management and staff of Gärsnäs, we wrote a brief that clarified what was important and the things that needed to change. Gärsnäs represents something unique in Swedish manufacturing and it’s important to reflect this in its headquarters and factory.
What needed to be done?
It was a variety of things. Create a distinct identity on the site for those working at Gärsnäs. Present the company to visitors in a clear and welcoming manner. Create pleasant and functional spaces for social activities and practical work. And last but not least, make the premises more aesthetically appealing.
What is the first and most tangible difference that a visitor will see?
The main body of the buildings has been given a new, dignified, coherent silhouette in white against plastered walls and wooden panels painted black. Great emphasis was placed on making a first impression that was welcoming. The entrance, which is marked by a portal, has moved to the building’s shorter side, which in turn is surrounded by a three-dimensional outdoor space. It is partly formed by graduated steps that lead visitors inside and offer places to sit. You might call it a small piazza, which also connects the showroom and the new gallery.
How would you describe the essence of your work?
Refinement and replenishment. Through the entire process, we have tried to use what was already there regarding the materials and resources that the building and premises had to offer. With respect to the company’s environmental awareness and core values, it felt absolutely crucial not to lose this.
Did you try to include local craftsmanship?
It has been extremely satisfying to engage local craftsmen and add to the project the excellent skills that are available in the district. For example, the enormous window looking over the fields, as well as the giant mirror wall, come from the local glazier’s workshop. All the wrought-iron was made by the smith in Simrishamn and the wood comes from the workshop in the factory itself.
Tell me more about the mirror wall!
The mirror wall is more than 10 metres in length and acts as a transition between the showroom and the new gallery, in addition to formalising the setting. It also reflects the light, the sky and the surrounding countryside.
How will the new gallery be put to use and how would you describe it?
The gallery is a multifunctional building for exhibitions, sales and social activities. The character of the large room is light, spacious and calming with a cast concrete floor which lends a pleasant coolness. Light enters through the large window with its raised structure that offers a beautiful view over the sweeping fields. In the middle of the space is a small room, a box, which contains both a kitchen and a toilet. The structure of the roof is deliberately left visible and has the same light-taupe colour as the walls of the box. The exterior of the gallery has wooden panelling coated in black Falun paint. The gallery is a sober, beautiful place that aims to be equally pleasant when mingling at an opening or just sitting in a Gärsnäs chair and drinking coffee.
Why the black Falun paint in Skåne?
Natural Falun paint provides a warmer profile than any other paint. Furthermore, it’s a living calcimine that allows the wood to breathe regardless of the weather. Falun paint stands for tradition and it felt completely in line with the Gärsnäs philosophy regarding environmental and quality.
How else will the changes be apparent?
Accessibility has improved, and the car park, which has new lighting, has moved from the other side of the Malmö road to adjacent the gallery. In general, the flow is better and the passageways are more effective, which has made the interesting chain of production easier to reveal. The refurbishment of the buildings also contributes to increased well-being and pride in the workplace.