About a decade has passed since Jarlahuset was completed. It is a unique ROT project that is particularly close to our heart. It was completely renovated during the period 2010–2012 into a modern, flexible office building with a spectacular, well-hidden courtyard. Creating something entirely new with such amazing results was an exciting challenge for Probitas.
The goal was to create a modern, attractive office environment and transform it from a government to media building, without altering its original character. Jarlahuset was an outdated 1970s building, with low ceilings and a horribly dreary inner courtyard. It was certainly not meeting the standard of a modern, space-efficient office building. It is a cultural landmark, with a brick facade representative of its era, designed by Architect Sture Frölén.
The starting point was unique too. Samuel Borg had only recently taken over as CEO of Probitas, in the wake of the financial crisis to find himself suddenly encumbered with a vacant 1970s building in major need of maintenance and restoration. Rental income from tenants was the main source of income, so the pace of the entire process had to be quick. “Basically, it was all about daring to take action and invest,” says Samuel, elaborating on what a large investment it was for such a small property owner and parish.
The solution they landed on was a “built-in glass funnel”, with one side leaning in order to create another 800 sq. m. of leasable space. The facade is constructed of prefabricated glued floor-high glass, without any visible profiles. It lets in light and disguises the low ceiling height, thereby creating a pleasant environment. Each floor is around 2,000 sq. m. and the funnel serves as a natural hub.
Because the facade swings and tilts, it was rather a puzzle to pull it all together and each pane of glass is unique. “There is a saying that at church, you have to dare to believe. That’s how it was for us too, even though there was a bit of math involved. Lars and his colleagues helped with that, making it possible to realize the glass chapel,” says Samuel.
“It’s been a journey of a lifetime, basically having a knife at your throat and wondering if it all might end like the Hindenburg. But not so! It has been wildly successful, surpassing all our expectations.”
The goal was to transform an outdated, brown-and-beige government building into a modern media house, giving the entire neighbourhood the boost it needed out of anonymity. And what a success it was! The tenant leasing the most space, 11,000 sq. m. is Spotify, which runs its core business here.
Samuel says that the “Glass funnel” (Glastratten, in Swedish) is the result of a very successful team effort, where people like Lasse Bengtsson from Fasadglas, Johan from Astadien, Viktor from Sweco and others demonstrated a lot of bravery in daring to try something new.
The project was awarded the prestigious 2013 ROT prize and it won Glaspriset (Sweden’s best glass building project) in 2014.
Samuel Borg is CEO of Probitas AB, a company that owns and manages properties in central Stockholm. It is part of a group of six companies working in the property, hotel, securities and healthcare industries. Probitas is owned by Immanuelskyrkan Parish.