Sky Hotel Apartments

Tornet turns 10 – meet the man behind the idea

Sky Hotel Apartments was founded 10 years ago, here at Tornet (“the Tower”) in Linköping. The idea for the company name came from the height of the building, and the logo has its origins in the shape of the building where everything started. Property developer Gunnar Sundbaum is the man behind Tornet. The visions he had in the 1990s became reality, and in 2009 Tornet was completed, next to the road ‘Tornbyvägen’. In Part 5 of our series of articles, we learn more about how Tornet came to be the landmark it is today, and Gunnar shares his tips for other who have ambitious ideas and want to realize them.

Where did the idea of Tornet come from?

All that was here was a big grassy area, it was flat and dull. I thought the area needed revitalization, and the idea of a skyscraper was born. I already owned the old slaughterhouse area next to it, and was in the process of developing it into a cultural centre. I was inspired by Norrköping and the industrial precinct there, and wanted to create something similar in Linköping. My vision was of a vibrant cultural zone, and during the years I managed the area we had a culture café, a drive-through art exhibit, a jazz café and more. I envisaged a stunning contrast between old and new, and injecting new life into the area, and the dream of a skyscraper emerged.
I liaised with the municipality, to find out what could be done, and what couldn’t. It was a long process, but finally we had a detailed development plan finalized, and a collaboration with Stångåstaden, the municipal housing company, where we could realize the idea and look for new tenants.
The initial idea was two towers of 30 floors each, with a restaurant, bar and dance floor at the top of one of them. We ended up with a 19-story building with a conference facility at the top, and next door, a lower building. Due to air traffic restrictions, the building was to have a maximum height of 64 metres. Plus the building had to fit into the surroundings and give the city a handsome silhouette together with the cathedral.
We engaged the renowned architect Ralph Erskine, and the job of designing the building was completed by Johannes Tovatt and White Architects. The idea was that the colours on the exterior would harmonize with the brick in the adjacent area. We built models of Styrofoam and tested our way forward, to different shapes and elevations, and the architects and us agreed that to do it justice, the building had to be as tall as possible. We went up in several elevated locations in Linköping to get a good idea of how the building would blend into the surroundings from various perspectives.

What used to be on this site, and why is the area called Tornet?

The area had been a slaughterhouse district since 1911, and the surrounding area was mostly fields and grass. I bought the land and the area from Scan, the meat company, in 1995 – when the buildings were empty and abandoned. Scan had moved to a new facility just a stone’s throw away. I have always loved the idea of preserving old buildings, so I was very excited about the acquisition.
The area was called Tornet (“the Tower”) because of the brick tower that had previously been used as a watertower for the slaughterhouse. The name existed long before the 19-story tower that was later built – but today the tower is also called Tornet.
For a few years, Klövern, a property management company, has owned the old slaughterhouse site, what is today called the Tornet precinct. Stångåstaden, Linköping’s municipal property owner, owns and manages the 19-story Tornet, where Sky Hotel Apartments has been tenants since construction was completed ten years ago.

What do you think about Sky being a tenant in the building?

That was a fantastic solution. The city needed hotel apartments. Most of Stångåstaden’s apartments were occupied by engineers, researchers and business people coming to Linköping for lengthier assignments, which wasn’t their niche. Stångåstaden’s apartments were needed for residents, and the construction of Tornet and the new hotel apartments freed them up for use as regular housing stock. Tornet could also accommodate a new head office for Stångåstaden, and a new stakeholder had the opportunity to acquire the business area ‘hotel apartments’ from Stångåstaden, and start up the hotel with 70 apartments. There was a tender process which Sky Hotel Apartments won, and they have gone on to become the market leader in furnished apartments in Linköping.

What are your tips for realizing your dreams and ideas?

I think it’s important to find your niche, something you believe in and know, and to try to be even better at it, and to contribute new ideas. Find your specialty, and don’t be like everyone else. My background is as a builder, specializing in sustainability. Conservation and sustainability have been important elements of all of my projects. With the construction of Tornet, which was a completely new building, it was important that the dimensions were correct from the start, that the colours fit into the surroundings, that the local environment wasn’t adversely affected, and that the entire building was well executed down to the last detail.
For me, success has been to surround myself with people who believe in the idea I have, and to find financing that works over time. I wish that more people with brilliant ideas had had the opportunity to realize their ideas.

Clara Callmeryd
Sales & Marketing Manager

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