The old Bungenäs military area at Fårösund on the island of Gotland has been reborn as a pedestrian precinct with housing, a general store, restaurants and an art gallery. Udden 6-7 are among the private homes built with a sympathetic eye to tie modern architecture in with the landscape and history.

  • “We wanted to create an area that showed respect for both nature and history. Our detailed development plan stipulated materials that harmonized with the location such as wood, Corten steel and concrete in all its forms. By using terrazzo, we were able to bring stone and concrete indoors to beautiful, striking effect,” says Erik Gardell, Architect SAR/MSA at Skälsö Arkitekter.

Out of bounds became public
Bungenäs is a peninsula of a little over 160 hectares located at Fårösund on north-eastern Gotland. The area’s 20th century history includes limestone quarrying and military exercises. For a long time the area was out of bounds, unlike other parts of the island, which were generally open to the public. The Swedish Armed Forces vacated Bungenäs almost 20 years ago under that period’s disarmament policy.

  • “When I was looking for good places to surf as a teenager, I came to the main gate at Bungenäs and was naturally curious to know what was on the other side,” says Erik Gardell.

The answer came around 10 years later when Erik had the opportunity to do restoration work and new construction on Bungenäs. He discovered surroundings that were appealing yet scarred from limestone quarrying and military exercises. And great surfing.

  • “We started literally from scratch and helped draw up a detailed development plan for the area. We met with the county administrative board, architectural conservators, local inhabitants and various artists. While it was a difficult, challenging assignment, it was also greatly rewarding.”

From door handles to an entire community
The area was home to several impressive buildings that were listed and lovingly and carefully restored. The old limestone storage barn and the high masonry kilns became an art gallery and restaurant. The dining room, where limestone works employees once ate, also received a new lease of life as a restaurant. An underground military bunker became a private home and the general store was restored to life. Nature was also shown respect, and since 2006 parts of Bungenäs are now a nature reserve.

  • “I see art and architecture as a way of calling things into question and asking how we should proceed. We may not always be right, but we can work on many levels to look beyond the present and find the heart of what we want to achieve. Art is not just for artists nor architecture only for architects. We create surroundings that people live in and use. It can involve everything from door handles to an entire community.”

While the new homes are built using modern architecture, they still relate to the location’s nature, history and culture. Bungenäs is also a pedestrian precinct where visitors must leave their vehicles in a car park and then walk or take a loaner bike.

  • “Many people appreciate how quiet it is; their mood is completely transformed here.”

Prizes and international recognition
For their work with Bungenäs, Erik and his colleagues at Skälsö Arkitekter were awarded prestigious prizes such as the 2017 Young Swedish Architecture and the 2017 Villa Prize. They receive the latter for Building 104 – the converted bunker. The competition judges wrote as follows: “It’s cocksure and cautious in equal measure and puts Bungenäs and the island of Gotland on the map of world-class architectural reuse and new construction.” The project has also been recognised internationally, and newspapers including the New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine paid visits and reported on the fascinating transformation.

Bungenäs has become a popular destination and many famous Swedish performers have held concerts here. Our four-legged friends also love the area and free-roaming sheep not only add a rustic touch, they also have a job to do – keeping the landscape open.

Terrazzo in harmony with the surroundings
According to the Bungenäs detailed development plan, materials that harmonize with the location such as wood, Corten steel and concrete in all its forms, must be used.

  • “There is gravel outdoors, and by using terrazzo we were able to take stone and concrete indoors to beautiful, striking effect.”

Erik has worked with terrazzo before in other projects where the material was used both for flooring and furnishings such as worktops.

  • “Terrazzo has been around a long while and has become trendy again. As a material, it’s fun and rewarding to work with as there are so many different choices. We work on many projects from private clients, both with houses and holiday homes, and often use terrazzo in one way or another.”

In the private home at Udden 6-7, we engaged Herrljunga Terrazzo to cast floors in situ and lay tiles in the stairs.

  • “They are major, professional suppliers with whom we enjoy excellent cooperation. I was often on site during the construction period and saw how they installed the terrazzo floors and stairs with great care and precision. The result was superb, and their excellent handicraft is an important part of it.”