Drying out one of the world’s largest wine cellars so it can be turned into a parking garage can present a number of challenges. But for Peter Johansson, Project Manager at Polygon Sweden, this is what inspires him on his way to work. “These kinds of projects are my favorite!”
A new residential area is taking shape near Liljeholmen, Sweden, an old industrial waterfront just south of the Stockholm city limits. This used to be the Swedish state alcohol monopoly’s port for the import of wine and spirits, where enormous tank ships unloaded wine through a pipeline into a cavernous storage area carved into a rocky hillside.
Perhaps not for the connoisseur…
Built in the late 1950s and ‘60s, the five separate caves accommodated the growing demand for alcoholic beverages in Sweden. Each cave was about 150 meters long, 20 meters wide and 20 meters high. Enormous cisterns of up to 6 million liters each stored table wines and spirits. A typical cistern was a metal-clad room 30 meters wide and 12 meters high. Including the 20 million imported bottles that were also stored in the temperate caves, the total capacity of the area was an astounding 55 million liters of wine and spirits!
Next to the storage caves was a bottling plant with an intricate pipeline system connected to the many cisterns. Now the factory has been demolished and apartments are under construction. The caves were emptied in the 1998 and are being transformed, with the addition of tunnels and reinforcements, into a parking garage for 970 vehicles plus a sports facility.
Polygon is responsible for the Temporary Humidity Control during the lengthy construction period. Until the heating and ventilation systems are in place, condensation is heavy due to temperature differences, and groundwater seeps through the rock in many places. This makes jobs such as painting difficult and requires large dehumidifiers to manage the environment.
Tropical spiders and TV crime
“This is the first time in my 17 years at Polygon that I’ve worked with this particular type of construction project and I find it very interesting,” says Peter. “For one thing, the sheer size of the caverns and the installations make it a big job. It’s also a unique historic environment with some surprises. One was a colony of large spiders not indigenous to Sweden, which most likely ‘immigrated’ on one of the wine boats. Experts came to the caves to collect samples for analysis.”
“Because it was unused for many years, there was a lot of graffiti on the walls and scenes from at least one television crime series were filmed here.”
The unusual nature of the project means that every day presents new challenges. “There is always a problem that needs to be solved as the building crews work to transform a space that was designed for a completely different purpose. I like figuring out the best solution based on my experience and making sure that it works,” Peter relates.
Contractor on the project is JM AB, with completion set for the late summer of 2015.
Photographer: Jonas Kunze