Go back

Named Väven, Swedish for ‘weave’, this mixed-use 25,000 square meter building was jointly commissioned by the Municipality of Umeå and developer Balticgruppen AB, and forms a block that sits on the city centre grid and also by a newer, quayside development.

The building’s concept was shaped in conjunction with Umeå’s residents who didn’t just want to consume culture they wanted to create it too – requesting a centre that would allow them to participate in both spontaneous and planned activities. This concept of weaving is not only present in the cultural aspects of the building, but also in its many different functions; hotel, conference center, black-box theatre, museum, library, and many others.

The design takes its cue from this mesh of cultural activities and functions, wrapping them up together in one large, unifying gesture through the building’s façade: a series of reflective glass ribbons woven together to form the building’s envelope. The façade is inspired by the city’s signature Birch trees – the white bark resembling the opaque cladding during the daytime hours, while at night the warm interior light gives off the same illusion. The darker bands meanwhile, are symbolized in the envelope’s glazing. The concept of weaving also influenced the building’s access points – there are no grand entrance or exit points but six carefully placed ones, accessible from three different levels that do not break up the continuity of building’s seemingly never-ending array of experiences.

The culture house will undergo constant change and development in terms of the activities it offers, through continuous dialogue with its stakeholders. For this reason spaces are deliberately loose, playful and flexible, using as few materials as possible: wooden floors, ridged wood ceilings and columns of plain concrete.

Väven forms part of a larger masterplan, the City between the Bridges, which aims to create a cultural area along the river Ume. White has been entrusted with this masterplan for over a decade now, and creating Sweden’s second largest cultural centre, in collaboration with Snøhetta, the client, local businesses and the people of the city, has been the jewel in its crown.


  • Client: Umeå kommun and Balticgruppen AB
  • Project Start/End: 2011-2014
  • Completed: 2014
  • Area/Size: 25 000 m²
  • City: Umeå
  • Photographer/Illustrator: Åke E:son Lindman/White
  • Film: Mattias Andersson



  • Kasper Salin Prize 2014


  • Maria Olsson
  • Lennart Sjögren
  • Åsa Haremst
  • Marianne Rutberg
  • Agne Revellé
  • Mirja Westling
  • August Edwards
  • Marie-France Stendahl
  • Malin Ericson
  • Maeva Chardon
  • Albin Holmgren
  • Jonas Westman
  • Anna-Carin Dahlberg
  • Katarina Rasmusson
  • Johanna Larsson
  • Anna von Gegerfelt
  • Pernilla Engberg
  • Mats Holmberg
  • Katharina Björlin Wiklund
  • Jan Anundi
  • Gunnar Stomrud

Building Type

Similar Projects