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Four-leaf clover buildings

The end of an era heralds new, sustainable times

When Kämnärsrätten was built in the 1960s, Hans Westman’s innovative “four-leaf clover” buildings had an important role, and in total provided accommodation for 1 000 students. Many students have good memories from these special small buildings, which, apart from in the quarter at Gylleholm, are now a thing of the past. AF Bostäder has been demolishing four-leaf clover buildings since 2016 and has started one of Sweden’s biggest investments in long-term sustainable student housing.

In the 1950s and 1960s, students were streaming to Swedish universities, and Lund University was dealing with explosive growth. To address the escalating housing shortage, AF Bostäder built new student housing areas and Lund architect Hans Westman was behind seven of them: Tomegapsgården, Studentlyckan, Ulrikedal, Parentesen, Gylleholm, Delphi and Kämnärsrätten.

“At that time, Westman had an idea for a new sort of student housing,” says Martin Jacobsson, Property Development Manager at AF Bostäder. “Around a prefabricated concrete core with four bathrooms and kitchenettes, he placed four simple student apartments in the shape of a Greek cross – or a four-leaf clover. With simple foundations and external stairs, four-leaf clover buildings were intended to be built, disassembled and moved rapidly and cheaply, according to market fluctuations. Westman gained acceptance for his idea and AF Bostäder built housing for 1 000 students based on the four-leaf clover model at Gylleholm, Delphi and Kämnärsrätten.”

Four-leaf clover buildings were an ingenious solution to what was deemed to be a temporary housing shortage, but the need became permanent, and the buildings stayed in place. However, they were not built for long-term management, and over time problems arose including leaks and damp. The design, with small kitchenettes, was soon considered outdated and energy consumption was more than double that of today’s newly constructed buildings.

The four-leaf clover buildings at Delphi were demolished in the 1990s, whereas the buildings at Gylleholm – which were the most durable – were preserved as listed buildings,” says Martin Jacobsson. “A review in 2010 deemed that the remaining housing for 711 students at Kämnärsrätten was far too expensive to maintain. We therefore decided to demolish them and provide space for a city district with modern and sustainable student housing.”

Since the local plan was finalised in 2016, AF Bostäder has demolished and built in stages, and now all the four-leaf clover buildings at Kämnärsrätten are gone. Due to the building’s design, the demolition work has been smooth. A large part of the material has been saved for future use e.g. for ongoing maintenance and for an orangery in one of the new quarters. Tenants in the four-leaf clover buildings were given plenty of time to find other AF Bostäder housing.

“It is, of course, challenging to have large direct write-offs and periods of reduced rental income, but AF Bostäder has solid finances, we were well prepared, and we have carried out demolition work in favourable years,” says Martin Jacobsson. “Now, highly sought-after student housing for twice the number of students is taking shape – with half the energy consumption”.

The new Kämnärsrätten will be a pleasant and long-term sustainable city district with seven varied quarters, all located along a verdant throughfare for activities designed for outdoor life and socialising. The expansion takes into account the current cityscape, trees and vegetation, energy consumption, water runoff management, waste management and waste sorting, biodiversity and above all – wellbeing and togetherness.

“We have used, among other things, climate impact calculations, set high climate targets and had the aim that each new quarter is to be more sustainable than the previous one. Bokompakt, Proto, Sagoeken and Hippocampus has been completed, Pireus is nearing the inauguration stage, Rhodos has been started and in 2023 we will start construction of Troja,” says Martin Jacobsson.

Latest update June 12, 2023
Martin Jacobsson
Martin Jacobsson
Property Development Manager
046 -19 14 62

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