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HSB Living Lab: student housing in Gothenburg, Sweden

Highlighted Case May 2017
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The HSB Living Lab is a residential block for student and guest researcher apartments that include flexible living units and multifunctional-shared space. Located at the Johanneberg Science Park district in Gothenbnurg (Sweden), HSB living lab is a showcase for how individuals can lead a sustainable lifestyle in their home. The 33 people residing in HSB live and work there in order to test the innovations and technical solutions equipped in the building. This includes monitoring stations and sensors, where the walls, facades and interiors can be changed as the research and innovation progresses. HSB Living Lab is a collaboration between industry, city and academia. It is a unique and open arena to create future sustainable living environments.


The HSB Living Lab allows researchers from academia and their industry partners to test on a small, but realistic life scale. Both short and long-term research-driven innovation projects will be conducted throughout the project’s ten-year life span. Results may be presented in exhibition areas within the building, providing a venue for enhancing understanding of sustainable solutions. The materials and methods tested here are expected to improve the quality and sustainability of building projects, both for new homes as well as renovations, accelerating the uptake of climate-smart innovation in the built environment.


HSB, a Swedish cooperative housing association, has developed its Living Lab in Gothenburg as part of the network of sustainable homes called ‘Living Labs’ (promoted by Climate-KIC), with the purpose of creating sustainable housing for the future.



Main sustainable features


- Living labs for residential accommodation: The HSB Living Lab is a portable four-story building consisting of 29 apartments, with 2,000 active sensors and 15,000m of data cable. It doubles as student accommodation and an exhibition where sustainable housing technology will be tested and developed for 10 years.

- Living units: The 44 steel modules (living units) that make up the building are distributed between the 4 floors were constructed in only 10 days. The living units have chosen this as the most adequate solution for allowing the advantages of material flexibility and a rapid construction.

- New approach to architectural design: HSB Living Lab is a temporary structure meant to be dismantled and relocated after ten years. The building’s temporary nature doesn’t mean it gets a free pass on functionality, though. It must still meet the needs of everyone who lives here. It is a building that takes a new approach to design, using smart “cubic” solutions, instead of the traditional 2D mind-set. Function, flexibility and adaptability are the main goals to produce sustainable products and services for the homes of the future.

- Low-temperature heating system that returns heat: The building's own heating system consists both of ordinary radiators and underfloor heating feed from a district heating network. Inside HSB Living Lab's district heating substation are three flow pipes, instead of the usual two, in order to avoid overheating the building. This is composed by an ordinary high-temperature supply line connection and two low-temperature return line connections for the surplus.

- Indoor quality: Emissions, carbon dioxide, mould spores and other substances that might exist in the rooms as well as the substances which paints and flooring release into the air are measured. The target is to assess the air quality inside HSB Living Lab and to see if any reactions occur when different emulsions/emissions mix.

- Shared space areas: The White room: an integrated lounge/laundry room  suite – a place where you can hang out with your neighbour and have a cup of coffee while you do your laundry. The research that will be conducted here is primarily of  a social focus. The White room is also a place where industry partners and researchers have the opportunity to test new ideas, research  sustainable housing solutions of the future and, hopefully, create world-first results.





Elektrovägen 4, Johanneberg Science Park district, 412 58 Gothenburg, Sweden



Project team


Main partners (tenant client and project management): Swedish cooperative housing association (HSB), Johanneberg Science Park (JSP) and Chalmers University of Technology

Collaborating partners:

-Construction: Peab, Swedish Modules

-Architect design: Tengbom

-Thermal Engineering: Bengt Dahlgren AB

-IT and monitoring system: Tieto

-Appliances: Electrolux

-Energy provider: Göteborg Energi

-Interior design: Elfa

-Kitchen, bathroom and laundry: Vedum Kök & Bad AB

-Owner: Akademiska Hus

-Supporter: Climate-Kic’s Building Technology Accelerator program (Europe’s largest public-private partnership on climate change)



Time schedule


Design: 2014 – 2016

Construction: February – June 2016

First occupancy: 1 June, 2016

Official inauguration: 5 September, 2016



Building use and area


The HSB Living Lab is a four-story modular building with residential and research areas. The infrastructure includes:

-29 apartments for students and guest researchers.

-Meeting rooms

-Showroom for project results

-Multi-functional laundry room

-Prototyping lab

-12 Adaptable wall sections, which can be removed and replaced to enable testing of various innovative façade materials and assembly techniques.

-An extensive network of 2,000 sensors and 15,000 m of data cable, providing precise measurements and data for research, development and innovation projects.

Ground Floor Area: 400 m2

Total Usable Floor Area: 1,720 m2



Construction costs


Total (VAT incl.): 6 M €



Envelope performance


The 44 steel modules option (living units) with 19 m2 net area each had the most potential to be integrated in the HSB Living Lab due to be:

-Movable and Scalable: The construction system must allow the building to be moved and rebuilt somewhere else. In this context, the building has to be scalable in order to fit in different kinds of urban or rural situations. A single unit system permits multiple configurations by combining the units vertically and horizontally.

-Enclosed Environment: The units are separated and isolated from one another. Each unit can be used by the researchers as an enclosed environment and collect data with little interference from other activities.

-Prefabrication: Prefabrication in series can reduce the construction phase on site as well as the general cost of the building.

-Transportation: The unit needs to fulfill the transportation regulation in order to facilitate the movable process and limit the cost. The dimension and shape of the unit has a large impact on the design.

-Reusable/ Recyclable: The future of the HSB Living Lab is not defined yet. So, the design should allow for change. At the moment the life of the building is limited to ten years, the period it will stay on the campus.


The U-value average is 0.31 W/m2.K. The details related to the specific envelope elements are:

-External wall: 0.136 W/m2.K

-Windows: 0.90 W/m2.K

-Roof: 0.10 W/m2



Energy consumption


According to the Usable Floor Area, a summary of results is listed below:

Total final energy consumption 80 kWh/m2.y

Breakdown in kWh/m2.y: Heating: 28; DHW: 17.7, Ventilation: 1; Electricity (pumps): 3, Electricity (ventilation): 5.5, Electricity (building connected): 2.3, Electricity (user connected): 20



Energy systems


Heating and DHW system: Urban network through water radiator and low temperature floor heating

Cooling system: VAV System (Variable Air Volume system)

Ventilation system: Free-cooling and double flow heat exchanger

BMS (Building Management System): Control units connected to OPC-server via MODBUS.



Awards and recognition


One of the six winners of the IASP Inspiring Solutions Programme 2014 held in Doha, Qatar (

Special mention of the jury for the 3rd Prize in the Green Building Solutions Awards 2016 in the Smart Building category (

One of the 20 nominated project for the Swedish Awards Årets Bygge 2017 (



Additional information


Official homepage of the HSB living lab:

Other websites:

The preliminary motivation video before construction:

Master thesis Architecture “Adaptable Design for the HSB Living Lab”:

News in English:



Award labels


Additional documents

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