The “floating” solar roof in Sweden’s Västerås Travel Center may be just an illusion, but the power it generates is entirely real. The design for the new transportation hub will include several other sustainability features, including rainwater recycling, and allow for better access to the city’s public transit stations.

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glass building with sloping roof

More than just a landmark, the travel center will serve as an important connection between neighborhoods, becoming a link over the railroad and uniting transportation functions. There are terraces surrounding the main building that connect to Vasaparken and Hamnparken parks as well as meeting spaces, lookout points, Wi-Fi zones and seating.

Related: MAD unveils solar-powered “Train Station in the Forest”

entrance to glass transportation hub building
metro train next to building

“Västerås travel center is designed based on flow,” said David Zahle, architect and partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). “Flow for public transportation and for the traveler, but also for the as shortcuts for the citizens of Vesterås. The travel center connects the city side with Mälarporten and Mälaren by lifting the city floor over the railway tracks. Vasaparken’s green urban space is expanded and leads pedestrian and bicycle lanes up and over the tracks and connects the center with Hamnparken and Mälaren.”

green-roofed cafe building
covered patio area next to transit station

For the “floating” rooftop, designers placed the lowest point of the roof in the middle of the building to create a sweeping motion toward the city center and nearby Lake Mälaren. The roof also serves as a protective barrier for travelers in the event of poor weather as they wait or walk to their train. The ceiling has been separated with a zigzag line from each side as an additional load-bearing element that extends the roof between the perimeter of the facade without the use of pillars. Separate pedestrian and bicycle passages make the area safe and open to everyone.

room with curved wood ceilings and glass walls
trees inside building with glass walls and curving wood ceiling

Integrating a solar cell system on the roof surface helps cover almost 70% of the entire project’s energy usage, while the internal temperatures are additionally managed through natural ventilation. The building utilizes ground heating and lighting for colder seasons and in the evenings.

person reading book at counter overlooking public space with glass walls
glass building with sloping roof near a bike path

The final design plan for the building was revealed only recently, with plans to begin construction in 2022 and completion posed for 2025.

+ Bjarke Ingels Group

Images via Bjarke Ingels Group and Playtime