Text description provided by the architects. Naturums, Swedish Visitor Centres, are information and exhibition locales in national parks, nature reserves, biosphere districts and at world heritage sites in Sweden. The construction of naturums represents one of the largest architectural ventures undertaken by the Swedish state in modern times. Naturum Kosterhavet stands on the island of Sydkoster, Sweden’s most westerly outpost.
The building’s irregular shape is determined by the site’s available permitted construction area. The long sides consist of repeated gables, six facing the sea and five towards land. These are linked by diagonal roof-trees which together create the roof’s zigzag pattern. Instead of taking the form of a traditional row of boathouses the naturum is a unified structure, differing in this respect from its neighbours. It resembles them but is nevertheless distinct. The roof’s complex three-dimensional puzzle can be inferred from the exterior but is at its clearest inside the building.
The naturum contains exhibition spaces, lecture hall and offices for the park’s administrative staff. There is also a library, a hands-on aquarium and a water laboratory where visitors can make their own discoveries. The building stands just by the water’s edge on filled and reclaimed ground, pile-driven to solid rock so as not to affect the existing quayside construction. The frame of the building consists of columns and main beams of laminated wood. Kosterhavet has been designed for minimal environmental effect and meets high demands relating to energy consumption, indoor environment and healthy construction materials. The building has been tested and classified in accordance with the Swedish ‘Miljöbyggnad’ system and awarded the level Gold.
The building has low energy requirements (calculated at 40 kWh/m2). It uses geothermal heating and consumes exclusively renewable, environmentally friendly electricity. The intake ventilation supply adjusts to ensure year-round minimal energy consumption. The water supply is from an osmosis unit sited on the island. The Naturum has a low carbon dioxide footprint, being supplied with renewable energy and most of the construction being in wood. All materials have been examined and documented free from environmentally dangerous elements. All the wood comes from certified forestry.