Ekonomikum, Uppsala, Sweden

Peaceful darkness creates a tranquil study space at Uppsala University

In what was previously a bomb shelter in Ekonomikum at Uppsala University, students are now offered a unique and peaceful environment with the best conditions for both analogue and digital studies, individually or in groups. They can study around a camp fire, beneath the heavens, on a collective sofa or in cubicles.


Ekonomikum is one of Uppsala University's largest departmental buildings. An old bomb shelter has been converted into two study halls, offering a flexible environment for a range of needs and available for everyone. The two rooms, Insikten (Insight) and Utsikten (Outlook), are designed with different characteristics in order to be suitable for all the study situations.

Modern studying requires instantaneous switches between digital and analogue tools. This places specific requirements on the physical environment with individual adaptation of ergonomics, lighting and acoustics. The same applies to collaborative work and social interaction, which is at least as important for studying. Utsikten, which is designed for association has glazed group rooms of differing sizes, a café section and a ”collective sofa” which accommodates up to 20 people. In contrast, the inner hall, Insikten, is a room without windows, which signals silence and individual work. The starting point was the calm that darkness produces and each study place is designed so that the student can personally adjust the light. This creates a small room within the room, screened from visual impressions but with no physical barriers. The room has been constructed in several levels so that everybody has a clear view of the fire, the room's centre with five different types of seating. The inner circle is designed for quality conversations where everybody can see and hear each other.

The commission is a pilot project for what the university's future learning environments might look like and was executed in close collaboration between client, architect, developer and contractors in an iterative process which facilitated testing and evaluation of different solutions to ascertain what would function best. The study halls' popularity since opening in February 2019 is proof of the project's success from the client's and the students' perspective.

The project received the 2019 Swedish Lighting Award, was long listed for the Dezeen Awards in the same year and has been published in a number of Swedish and international trade journals and architecture magazines.






Completed 2019


Architecture, interior design, lighting design

Point of contact

Jonas Kjellander

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