Copenhagen Gallery

Turning Torso

Turning Torso has since its inauguration in autumn 2005 symbolized Malmö’s transformation from a Swedish industrial society to an international knowledge society.

When the 140 metre high Kockum shipyard crane was dismantled some years back, Malmö lost what had been the symbol of the Swedish industrial port since 1974. The city therefore found itself in need of a new hallmark. The result was the Turning Torso, which since its inauguration in autumn 2005 has symbolized Malmö's transformation from Swedish industrial society to an international knowledge-based society.

The eye-catching tower comprises nine five-storey cubes and at 190 metres high is provisionally the tallest residential construction in Northern Europe. The bottom two cubes of the building house offices, while the top seven cubes contain 147 apartments. Here tenants can live in everything from 45 sq.m studio apartments to 190 sq.m five-room apartments.

From sculpture to high-rise

The Turning Torso came about rather by accident. The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava-world famous for his bridges, amongt other creations-entered his proposal for the architectural competition for the Øresund Bridge in 1999. His suggestion was not chosen, but his accompanying presentation brochure did attract attention. The brochure showed Calatrava's sculpture, the Twisting Torso, turning 90 degrees about its own axis.

A short while after, the then director of Malmö's cooperatively owned housing company HSB travelled to Zürich and asked the Spanish architect if he could transform the sculpture into an apartment building. In that sense, the Turning Torso is a typical example of Calatrava's working methods. For with an extensive output of sculptures to his credit, and having trained as architect and engineer, his works marry playfully aesthetic styling with ingenious principles of design.

Tricky construction

It's not often that building work is modelled on sculpture. For that reason, the building process was a long and difficult one, and the original budget of DKK 620 million was overstepped by no less than half a billion kroner. Since the sculpture derives its inspiration from a twisted human body, each floor of the building has been dislocated 1½ storeys in order to achieve the building's 90 degree torsion. Furthermore, the building's exterior steel structure imitates a backbone, its 38 horizontal and diagonal 'ribs' taking the strain off the inner core of reinforced concrete. It is precisely the heavy concrete core that prevents the building from budging noticeably-even in hurricane-strength winds. That was not the case with the two cranes on the building site, however, which could only be used for erection work in windspeeds of less than 20 metres a second. That meant that the weather alone delayed construction by more than two months.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014