During the summer I was able to research within the field of sustainable development, for my prospective dissertation, in Sweden. With the aid of the Principal’s Go Abroad Scheme I spent 5 weeks interning at Vasakronan in Stockholm. Vasakronan are Sweden’s largest Real Estate company and prioritise sustainability within their investments, research and workplace. As an architecture student, it was a fantastic opportunity to spend time in an interdisciplinary environment, which gave me first-hand experience in factors which directly affect the success of projects.
My time spent working at Vasakronan as a sustainable development research intern was split in four ways: analysing architect’s proposals for a new suburb in Stockholm, researching glulam precedents (a highly sustainable construction material), attending interdisciplinary meetings and finally creating a mapping analysis of the application of the 14 UN Sustainable Development goals for a potential project.
Interdisciplinary meetings included: finance meetings with Moody’s, SEB and other key Swedish businesses about Green Bonds; a meeting with Foster + Partner’s for potential collaboration and a feedback meeting with GRESB. I learnt a lot about key current issues concerning sustainability and what is expected from the architect’s role from these meeting.
Through creating visual representations of how the 14 UN Sustainability Goals were met for the given proposal, I was able to think differently about how different elements of sustainability relate to each other. Innovative and often simple proposals taught me new ways of thinking about the integration of architecture and sustainability from the very beginning of the design process.
Initially, I was worried about the work load and what would be expected from me upon arrival as an architecture student in a real estate company. However, I was fortunate to have had helpful and friendly colleagues, including other interns, who helped me feel comfortable and at home in Stockholm from the start of my time at Vasakronan. I am happy to have built a network in Stockholm from which I hope to use to conduct interviews with during the development of my dissertation.
I spent my free time in and out of galleries and museums, visiting key architectural sites and enjoying city life with the other interns. Living in Stockholm was a fantastic end to the academic year and I have felt lucky to have met such great people along the way.