Umeå University School of Architecture

Umeå School of Architecture has a unique location by Umeå River. With its interior landscape of open floor levels and sculpturally shaped stairs, the building resonates with creativity and artistic experimenting.

As a growth centre for the architecture of the future, Umeå School of Architecture will provide the framework for inspiration and innovation. From the outside, the building has a cubic expression with its larch facades and square windows placed in a vibrant, rhythmic sequence on all sides. The interior space of the building is designed as a dynamic sequence of stairs and split, open floor levels where abstract, white boxes hang freely from the ceiling filtering the light coming in through the high skylights.

One of the key objectives has been to create a bright and open study environment where everyone is part of the same room – only separated by the split levels and glass walls of the teaching rooms. The design supports the opportunity for mutual inspiration and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and ideas between the students.

In contrast to the dynamic atrium, the drawing rooms placed along the facades of the building in a strict and regular sequence of columns and beams have a simple and rational design. The varied pattern of windows not only creates a strong visual effect – it also generously lets the light flow into the building and offers a breathtaking view of the river.

The School of Architecture will form part of the new Arts Campus at Umeå University, which will also comprise the new Academy of Fine Arts and Art Museum – both designed by Henning Larsen Architects.

Sustainability and Materials

Local, sustainable materials have been used for the School of Achitecture. The exterior facing is larch wood and, on the inside, local birch wood creates a contrast to the light walls and contributes to achieving good acoustics. The concrete floor gives an industrial and robust expression.

Early on in the design process, energy calculations and daylight simulations helped to establish that the facade should consist of wood with window holes instead of only glass. This has been a key parameter in achieving an energy reduction of 50 %.

Ventilation, lighting and heating functions are ingeniously integrated in the bearing structure. The air comes in under the floor and is transported to the roof of the building via the columns and beams where it is circulated round the building via perforated pipes.


Project Type


Umeå, Sweden

Related links


  • Henning Larsen Architects
  • Åke E:son Lindman