Lundberg Design - Design Bureau

Lundberg Design

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

How do architects create innovative buildings that push past basic four wall construction?

By designing spaces that don’t involve a ‘building’ at all. According to Olle Lundberg, his firm tends to create the “pretty private homes that nobody sees.” Although the CEO and founder of Lundberg Design says he has enjoyed creating unique living spaces for his clients, he also wanted to take Lundberg’s designs to a more challenging place, and devised plans for two clients that didn’t require a ‘building’ at all.

The Lundberg team put its ‘non-building’ based architecture plan to the test when they were approached to design Hourglass Winery in Calistoga, CA. “This was an interesting project because we talked the client out of doing a building,” says Lundberg. After investigating the site, creating a traditional building didn’t seem to fit the space and the client didn’t want to risk losing valuable land for vines. So, rather than build up, Lundberg’s team decided to dig into the hillside, creating a carved out space they then encased with stainless steel—a much more cost effective solution than regular building projects. By forgoing an above ground building and making use of the land and its resources, Lundberg was able to save valuable land and the client’s money. “By changing the program we were able to do something beautiful,” he says. “Because we were imaginative, the solution we came up with was driven by low budget, making it much more interesting,” he says.

It is important the uniqueness not just be arbitrary, but has to do with the specific project. At the end of the day, we want it to be functional and clear.

Lundberg Design’s other recent ‘non-building’ construct provided them with the opportunity to have the city of San Francisco as its client. Nearing the end of its 20-year contract with the city, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was looking to add interest and efficiency to its public bus shelters with an updated design. They felt the existing shelters were too cramped and unappealing, so they asked several Bay Area architects to compete in a shelter design competition, with each participant creating nine options for judges to pick from. “I never like providing lots of options, because at the end of the day, we know which one we like and which one is the strongest design,” says Lundberg. So, despite competition requirements, Lundberg only submitted one design for consideration—a gamble that paid off with Lundberg’s design winning the bid. “The public had the most positive and the most negative feedback. But at least we made them have an opinion.”

Lundberg’s new bus shelter design features a larger, more modern aesthetic with sustainable features, including an undulating solar film roof (developed especially for this project) and a solar powered LED display and a push-to-talk button to assist the visually impaired in bus display information. The “seismic wave”, as Lundberg refers to the solar film roof, was created as an homage to the city. Although it has no specific meaning, the people of San Francisco have interpreted it in different ways, which the Lundberg team encourages. “We wanted the shelter to only work in the context of San Francisco.” Other elements in his design are meant to represent iconic San Francisco landmark, The Golden Gate Bridge.

Paul Martin, director of engineering for Zahner, explains “Lundberg Designs has a great aesthetic, great use of materials, creativity, but their defining characteristic for me is that they are really open minded and flexible. That is not how most projects are handled, and there is a lot of benefits to being so open.” Knowing how to work with the client, the site, and the budget in creative and fresh ways is how Lundberg continues to keep its body of work diverse and interesting. “It is important the uniqueness not just be arbitrary, but has to do with the specific project. At the end of the day, we want it to be functional and clear,” he says. And being passionate about design helps, too. “Architecture and design is a profession that’s driven by passion, and if you love doing it, you’ll find a way to get around the economic hurdles.” With the innovative designs that Lundberg has created, their work should be around for generations to come.

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