At Six

Universal Design Studio transforms a Brutalist bank building in Stockholm into a warm, inviting hotel, in turn reinvigorating a city square. Photograph by Andy Liffner

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The Brutalist exterior of the At Six hotel in Stockholm belies its welcoming interior, which was recently reimagined by London-based Universal Design Studio. Throughout the 10-story hotel, a palette of monochromatic, textured materials tastefully combines with soft lighting, sumptuous upholstery, and an impressive art collection to create a cozy and sophisticated ambience that breathes new life into a city district formerly known as a center for finance.

Originally a hotel when built in 1977 during a controversial government initiative that saw much of the city center’s Belle Époque architecture replaced with modern structures, this is one of four Brutalist giants that flank Stockholm’s Brunkebergstorg Square. Once a social hub within the city, the square was overtaken by banks and offices—this building became the Swedbank headquarters—and lost its appeal to locals. That began to change, though, in 2014, when Norwegian hotel magnate Petter Stordalen, the owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, purchased this 323,000-square-foot building occupying the eastern side of the square and tasked Universal Design Studio with transforming it into the 343-room At Six hotel.

“We came on board at a point when the building had been entirely stripped out and was a blank canvas,” says Hannah Carter Owers, director at Universal Design Studio. “The building was originally designed as a hotel, so the layout was pretty logical in terms of guestrooms on the upper floors.”

Art unites interiors
The designers initially focused their attention on the layout of public spaces on the first two floors. Working with White—the Swedish architecture firm that was commissioned for the hotel’s exterior renovation and rooftop addition—Universal Design Studio developed a new two-story glazed entrance that increased the size of the ground-floor reception.

Public floors were conceived as a series of proportional, intimate spaces. At Six hired art curator Sune Nordgren to create one of Europe’s most significant hotel art collections, including works by Sol Le Witt, Olafur Eliasson, and Tacita Dean. Taking center stage in the lobby is an 8-foot-tall marble sculpture by Jaume Plensa, which is wrapped by a grand white granite staircase. The stair leads to a 100-seat restaurant and a “slow-listening lounge” —a living-room-like space with a premier sound system that invites guests to discover new artists.

A palette of sawn stone, blackened steel, fine timber, and polished granite contributes to the warm atmosphere. Universal Design Studio worked with Swedish lighting designer Rubn to produce a number of bespoke fixtures, as well as London-based Atelier Areti for larger feature lights. Other one-of-a-kind pieces by local craftspeople range from the quintessentially Swedish leather-wrapped handrails of the lobby stair—made by a saddle maker— to the wine bar’s show-stopping communal table, which was carved by artist Lies-Marie Hoffmann from a single Swedish elm trunk.

Texture, depth, and layers
“Although we used a lot of monochromatic materials, they have texture and depth to them,” explains Carter Owers. “For example, we used a stone with a vein through it, or treated metals that change appearance based upon the lighting. We also worked with layers of upholstery—natural leathers and velvets in deep tones.”

Touches of Belle Époque grandeur were added to the guestrooms in the form of tactile timber wall paneling and decadent marble credenzas that run the full length of the rooms. “We really enjoyed the contrast between this oppressive sleeping giant of a Brutalist building and what we knew about the square’s history as a vibrant Belle Époque hub for Stockholm,” says Carter Owers. “We kept both of those things in mind as we created the hotel interior and tried to find a happy medium.”

In the spirit of reinvigorating the square as a social hub, the hotel attracts passersby to its outdoor cafe and intimate wine bar. “Brunkebergstorg is much more vibrant and alive now,” reflects At Six CEO Jennie Hahmann Håkanson. “The whole square is undergoing a complete refurbishment, and we will see this development continue over the coming years. People are truly rediscovering this area.”

who Architect and interior designer: Universal Design Studio. Project team: Agnieszka Swietlik; Anya Martsenko; Alexey Kostikov; Aurore Baulier; Bori Kovacs; David Vine; Hannah Carter Owers; Ieva Kristapaviciute; Irenie Cossey; Mischa Leibovich; Phoebe Baker Gabb; Richard McConkey; Sonia Tomic; Stuart Mauger. Associate designer: White. Lighting: Node Lighting Design. Kitchen: Kokspennan. Graphics: Identity Works. Curator: Sune Nordgren. Custom furniture and fixture design: Atelier Areti; Troesl Felnsted; Fredrik Paulsen. Artists: Jaume Plensa; Richard Long; Carina Seth Anderson; Tacita Dean; Spencer Finch; Dawid.
what Flooring: Dinesen. Carpet/carpet tile: Kasthall; Christopher Farr. Lighting: Atelier Areti; Rubn; Charlotte Perriand; Apparatus. Outdoor furniture: Dedon. Seating: Neo Living; Franco Albini; Borge Morgensen; Jonas Lindvall; Skultuna; SvenksTenn; Tobia Scarpa; Molteni&C; Charlotte Perriand; Piero Lissoni; Jorgen Kastholm; Preben Fabricus; Luca Nichetto; Mats Theselius; Cini Boeri; Poul Kjaerholm; Fredrik Paulsen; Eikund; Torbjørn Bekken; Knoll; Piero Lissoni; Jacksons. Upholstery: Astrid; Kvadrat; Dedar; Tarnsjo; Raf Simons. Tables: Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby; Lies Marie Hoffmann; Troels Flensted. Other furniture/ fixtures: Rodolfo Dordoni; Niels Otto Moller; Le Corbusier; Patricia Urquiola; Arno Votteler; Arne Jacobsen; Poul Kjaerholm; Molteni; B&B Italia; Living Divani; Fogia; Cassina; Fritz Hansen; Asplund; Frederica; Cappellini; Arflex; Minotti. Plumbing fixtures/ fittings: Axor.

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