29-06-2022 07:07

The tallest skyscraper in the Nordics is being built – with Nordea as a financier

A visionary with a questioned idea, Serneke as developer and builder, Balder as partner and Nordea as financier – then add the architects behind the world’s highest tower, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and you have a dream team to make the tallest building in the Nordics a reality. The skyscraper Karlatornet, with its 245 meters is Gothenburg’s first skyscraper. The construction loan is also the largest in the history of Nordea.
Photo: Serneke.

The sky is almost perfectly clear on the day of our visit to Karlatornet. The road to reaching its current height of 145 meters has been winding, but today the tower is firmly anchored in the bedrock of central Gothenburg. Karlatornet is a proud landmark at the entrance of Gothenburg harbour and, since May, the city's tallest building, even though there is still about 100 meters to go to the top. But the story neither begins nor ends here. 

Already back in 2004, Ola Serneke, the founder of Serneke Group, came up with the idea: to build skyscrapers in Lindholmen on Hisingen island in Gothenburg. When he presented the idea to the city of Gothenburg the reception was cold to say the least, and instead of being praised his idea was questioned. Nobody believed it possible to build such a tall building in Gothenburg, a city that largely rests on clay. But he didn't give up. Instead he was triggered to keep working on his idea.  

After years of planning, he managed to get the city of Gothenburg onboard and believing in the development of the new district, that would later be named Karlastaden. Subsequently, the detailed development plan was quickly accepted and the project became part of Gothenburg’s 400th anniversary celebrations in 2021. The previous doubts had now turned into cheers and fascination. 

Erik Selin, CEO of Balder and Michael Berglin, CEO of Serneke Group. Photo: Magnus Länje.

Innovative technology cluster growing by one floor per week 

Michael Berglin, CEO of Serneke Group, and Erik Selin, CEO of Balder, are our guides on the 2.5 hour tour of the iconic building. According to them, a workforce of around 500 people are working in two shifts and approximately one floor per week is added to the tower. At the time of our visit, they are working on the twist – the part where the tower turns. Here, the corners of the building are shifted approximately 60 centimetres per floor, creating a waist that rotates about a quarter of a turn.  

The construction is now more than half-way to its final height of 245 meters and 73 floors. When completed, the tower will be the tallest building in the Nordics, and include both housing, hotels and commercial premises, where innovation is at the core of every detail The apartments – ranging from studios to penthouses of more than 300 square meters and three floors – will be some of the most exclusive and unique homes in the Nordic countries. The residents will for example have access to service and facilities through the hotel that will also be housed in the building.  

“Nordea has played a crucial role in making Karlatornet a reality. Nordea put us in touch with Serneke which led to the three of us joining forces, and we have been working together ever since. It is an incredibly interesting project and I feel that its completion is really important for Gothenburg,” says Erik Selin, CEO of Fastighets AB Balder. 

Nordea has played a crucial role in making Karlatornet a reality.

Erik Selin, CEO of Fastighets AB Balder.

Photo: Serneke.

Lookout-point with skybar on the 69th floor 

Standing at the bottom of Karlatornet with its 145 meters, is really powerful. And stepping out onto the 45th floor 145 meters above ground to take in the view of Gothenburg is simply breathtaking. It gives you perspective on so many levels – to the South is the well-known landmark Liseberg with its Ferris wheel and the rollercoaster Balder, to the East is the Hisingen Bridge and to the North West we see a glimpse of the southern archipelago of Bohuslän. And this view will soon be available for everyone; on the 69th floor there will be a skybar with a lookout-point accessible to the public. 

The construction is set to reach its 60th floor in September – an important milestone for the project, as the tower surpasses Malmö’s Turning Torso, with its 190 meters, making Karlatornet the tallest building in the Nordics. Together with the adjacent buildings, this is one of the largest construction projects in Swedish history.  

“With good planning, and a touch of humility, we have managed to get some of the best resources in the world to help create Karlatornet. If it hadn't been for Nordea’s faith in the project – and in us – we wouldn’t have pulled this off. Mutual trust and excellent cooperation throughout the process made Karlatornet a reality, and we are very happy about this,” says Michael Berglin, CEO of Serneke Group. 

They say that no one is a prophet in their own town. But through joint efforts, the initially questioned idea is now a reality. Today, the people of the city have fully embraced the tower where it stands, proudly overlooking Gothenburg – and soon also all of the Nordics.  

On set Peter Dalmalm, Per Långsved, Michael Berglin, Erik Selin, Patrik Svensson. Agneta Holmberg, Ninni Franceschi, Anna Kansell, Vilhelm Jensen, Carl Johan Stackell, Åsa Allder, Therese Ekelöf Ljung. Photo: Magnus Länje.

Facts about Karlatornet:

  • The tower is found in the emerging new district Karlastaden, which is situated at Lindholmen in Gothenburg. 
  • When finalised, the tower will have 73  floors, and measure an impressive 245 meters.  
  • The tower will give room to 600 apartments, 300 hotel rooms and 8,000 square meters of office space. 
  • Occupants will be able to start moving in during the autumn of 2023 and the tower will be finalised during 2024.
  • Currently, about 80 percent of the apartments have been sold, and 100 percent of the hotel and office spaces have been leased. 
  • Karlatornet is jointly developed by Serneke and Fastighets AB Balder and it is fully financed, through shareholder loans from the parties and a construction loan of about SEK 3 billion from Nordea.  
  • The project’s construction loan is the largest in the history of Nordea. 
  • Karlatornet is a part of the city district Karlastaden, which will consist of eight blocks of housing, offices, shops and service.  
  • There are plans for an energy hub for the future in Karlastaden, that will supply the district with energy in a sustainable way. 
  • Experience the feeling of living at 245 meters above ground, in a home located higher than most in the Nordics.
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