February 14, 2012 in SAAB Automobile AB
Saab Advanced Concept Center is a place that a lot of people have driven by without knowing that it was there, unless you have very sharp eyes. Located about 500 meter north of the Saab Museum, on the other side of the town from the Saab factory, in a row of 100 year old brick buildings you’ll find one of Saab’s most secret buildings.
This gate was always closed, a few days ago I drove by and noticed that it suddenly was open so I just had to go inside to have a look. I’ve read about this place before and also talked to people who used to work there, although they didn’t say what they were working on until the end of Saab on 19th of december 2011, they did talk about some of the work they did before. The building was renovated in 1998 and completed in 1999. This space was occupied from 1999 until 2003 when the work here was moved to Pixbo in Gothenburg. When Saab entered into reconstruction in 2009 the designers were moved back to Trollhättan as the Gothenburg facilities were closed down due to the cost reduction program. In 2008 some of the design work for Saab was also done at the GM Europe central design center in Germany.
The main word describing the work in there is concept and design language. In which direction did Saab want to go. A typical word for that is minimalistic which normally is the word used for describing Scandinavian design. IKEA uses it extensively as well as both Saab and Volvo. The doors used to be covered with white grain making it impossible to see inside even though it would let a fair bit of the light inside. Everything inside is white, the floors, roof, walls which according to some people who worked there gave a very good working environment when working with lines and curves. It also provided you with what they describe as a Scandinavian winter feeling. This was also featured somewhat in a book I read a long time ago called Nordic by Nature.
The frist thing you used to see was a reception and a display area which was totally covered for anyone trying to look inside. Behind yet another wall was the workshop area’s and office. Only a handful of people worked at this facility and secrecy was kept very high.
Being inside this building is interesting, the light is pretty amazing with roof windows and the whiteness everywhere. Some rare photos that I have seen (but didn’t manage to get a copy of) from this place made me recognize this place instantly, it was nice to be able to compare the mental image of those photos I had of it with actually being there.
A fact that is both sad and interesting is that the area today has been converted into an art gallery and is open to the public. It is another result of Saab going bankrupt. Many other Saab buildings are today the workplace of other people and other companies. I’ll try to cover it in more detail in later articles.