This week’s featured project comes to us from Sweden and showcases a lovely piece of civic architecture designed by the architects at Tengbom. This small scale project in Helsingborg — the Southern Entrance of the Helsingborg Central rail station (Knutpunkten) — is a prime example of how aesthetic minimalism can still pack big functionality in architecture. The Southern Entrance and its perfect simplicity is translated beautifully for us by Gothenburg based architectural photographer Felix Gerlach.
Felix kicks things off “I really enjoyed shooting the Southern Entrance. It’s a very futuristic, vibrant, SciFi-ish building but still elegant and blends in good with the surroundings. Science Fiction has always been an inspiring force for me, so doing a project like the Entrance is really engaging.”
He continues, “My goals for this project was to purify the architecture and enhance the lines so the unique shapes of the roof really stands out.
I love working with Tengbom architects, I have worked with them for a long time, they usually give me free hands and appreciate my work. Their buildings are always inspiring to shoot.”
Helsingborg has seen an enormous surge in traffic to and from the city. Helsingborg Central is the hub that commuters and travelers pass through, whether making their way to the ferries that travel across the Øresund Strait into Denmark, or catching one of the 69 or so trains that head south into Malmo each day. Needless to say, when Tengbom converted a former parking garage on the backside of the station into another entrance, one that allowed for relief on the flow of pedestrian and commuter traffic and created the space to park 450 bicycles, it was a welcomed change.
Here, Felix showcases a portion of the bicycle parking in relation to the entrance. We get a good sense of the hubbub around the rail station, with folks biking and walking by. This allows us to see the Southern Entrance in context and get a feeling for what it is like to be there in person.
Curious about the logistics of photographing a civil architecture project like this — one that was built because of the high volume of traffic in the area — I asked Felix about the challenges of photographing a busy public space like this. He said:
“Firstly the building is surrounded by traffic and also very crowded with people running all over the place which makes it quite stressful. Secondly, our days in Sweden are very short during the fall. Dusk settles early [around] 3:30 p.m. so you have to handle the shooting in a short time span.”
Felix noted that he typically works without an assistant and keeps his gear load light. He credits his ability to quickly make compositions and get his lines straight to his Arca Cube. I would imagine this allows him to work fast and move around unencumbered in these kinds of situations.
I absolutely love this photograph. The kiss of warm light on the timber roof draws our eyes right in past the darkening foreground. The long shadows and the textured pulled out of the wood helps draw our attention to the shape of the roofline — which was Felix’s goal for this shoot.
As the early Swedish dusk falls, a beautiful cinematic feeling color palette occurs and creates a perfect amount of contrast through color, where the oranges and yellows in the timber roof pop out against the deep blue sky. I enjoy Felix’s one-point perspective here and the sense of symmetry it gives us. His composition allows there to be just enough space between the buildings in the background and the shape of the roof. The lines and shapes that those little “channels” make, helps pull our eyes in toward the station.
Here is both Felix and I’s favorite photograph from this series he describes what makes it special to him by sharing “it’s a picture that gives [the Southern Entrance] a proper representation without being boring and plain. The shape of the roof, the building, and the surroundings are presented in their best way. I also tend to like night pictures best, as they give me the possibility to black out the background and isolate the building.”
With the interior of the South Entrance illuminated, we get a good look at the intuitive space-saving design of the cycle storage, as well as the dramatic lighting design.
“When shooting projects like this at night which are illuminated in the dark, HDR technique is really what makes it possible to achieve,” Felix shares. “Also of course having my camera on a tripod makes it possible for me to mix different shots from when people are passing by. Instead of hiring models, all I have to do is wait!”
With its faintly curved roof that gives the appearance of flowing motion, the Southern Entrance of Helsingborg Central is a simple yet thoughtful design that Felix showcases perfectly. In Tengbom’s press release, they share how they had hoped that the entrance would serve as a sculpture and landmark. Illuminated against the rich-toned sky, framed by trees, and the motion created by the light trails in the foreground, Felix gives us this hero shot of the Southern Entrance poised as the beacon it was intended to be.
A big thank you to our new friend Felix Gerlach for sharing this series with us! Head over to check out more of his great work at felixgerlach.se and give him a follow on Instagram @felixgerlach_fotograf.
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.