A vision for the Boden site: Where nature meets architecture

Sketch of green crossing.

With its pioneering venture in Boden, Sweden, H2 Green Steel is creating a greenfield steel mill that will convert the raw materials of the Norrbotten region, integrating the constructed facilities with nature. Every part of the site – from factory buildings to green crossings for wildlife and people – is designed to blend with its surroundings.

The project has been visualized by Swedish architectural firm Sandellsandberg, with the ambition to create a distinct visual identity for the green steel mill and the buildings that surround it, while honoring the industrial heritage of Norrbotten.

“Historically, when we built large industrial complexes, there was a lot of effort put into making it visually appealing, whereas most buildings today are constructed with functionality as the main focus. Our objective was to create something beautiful that ties back to those values,” says Thomas Sandell, chief architect at Sandellsandberg.

Sketch of electrolyser.

Inspired by the Swedish cultural landscape and the changing colors of the seasons, the factory color palette consists of white, silver, and black – an homage to the mountains’ black and grey tones meeting melting snow, and the reflection of the sun in the lakes of Norrbotten. Falu red – a paint commonly used in Sweden for wooden cottages, barns, and houses – will be used as a contrasting color. The idea is to also use the red dye for the DRI towers, which will be the two most prominent buildings on the site.

“As the towers will be visible from far away, we put extra love and effort into creating something that could also become a landmark in the area and a beautiful addition to the Boden landscape. We have given them a distinct look, inspired by traditional blast furnaces,” Thomas Sandell says.

Vision for DRI tower.

Creating a unique, coherent design language will make the Boden facility stand out from other industrial buildings around the world, he adds. One of the ideas on the table is wave-shaped roofs covered in greenery, a theme that could reappear in surrounding noise barriers, crossings, and bridges. The falu red color is another recurring feature that could be seen in buildings such as the lookout tower, which is set to be one of the first buildings to be completed on the site, giving Boden residents an opportunity to overlook the site and its surroundings.

Vision for lookout tower.

In the longer term, there will also be opportunities to utilize waste heat and other residual products from the green steel mill to, for example, heat greenhouses for residents in Norra Svartbyn or a public thermal outdoor pool, or generate energy for a fish farm.   

"There is a desire on H2 Green Steel’s part to be able to do things with the steel mill that adds value to and includes the Boden community, because this project is an important part of the future development of the city," Thomas Sandell says.

A series of large green industrial projects in northern Sweden, including H2 Green Steel in Boden, will increase the need for housing, services, and infrastructure. A well-functioning housing market, a vibrant cultural life, and access to high quality education and healthcare are crucial in attracting and retaining talent in the long term. Therefore, a key part of the development of the site is to support initiatives that will contribute to the advancement of these areas.

Sketch of office building.

In the area surrounding the site, there is development potential for future residential housing, and Sandellsandberg is also working with the municipality of Boden to create plans for what those areas could look like. The vision is small-scale, timeless, and consistent buildings, inspired by military barracks, with falu red facades that ties back to the color palette of the steel mill.

”Both H2 Green Steel and the municipality want there to be attractive housing options for those who choose to move here. I think a lot of people value living in proximity to nature and water, where there is a sense of community – almost like a modern industrial society,” Thomas Sandell concludes.

Vision for residential area.