A Volvo Moment: another day in the office, sixties style
12:30 AM | September 9 2016

A Volvo Moment: another day in the office, sixties style

Everything is neat and tidy in Volvo's information department when the photographer comes to take pictures for an internal brochure about the new headquarters in Torslanda. Not a hair is out of place in the women's haircuts, maybe they had all visited the hairdresser in time for the photo shoot. On a desk is an ashtray, but it is of course completely empty.

When planning first got under way for the new administration building in 1964, Volvo was the first in Sweden to from the beginning, plan for an open plan office landscape instead of having individual workrooms.

The motto was to put "people first". But an open plan office was also an efficient way of using the built area. Building office buildings with many small workrooms did not create flexibility and moreover the buildings could not be particularly deep as all the rooms would need to have windows. With an open plan office you got a large open area with many workplaces and rows of desks.

The new headquarters would be a total of 42,500 square metres and the area of the open plan office on the largest floor was 6,000 square metres - markedly bigger than a football field.

A partner in the construction was another big Swedish company: Facit. The office machine giant had of course supplied the typewriters but also tables and office chairs. They had been developed in cooperation with Volvo and upholstered in Facit's standard fabric Balder, and in the rest areas were chairs designed by the renowned furniture designer and architect Bruno Mathsson.

In October 1967 the 1,400 employees started moving in. With the help of the so-called louvred ceiling combined with wood wool slabs, it was thought that the sound would be muffled.

From the 1969 photograph there is of course no sound, but it is easy to imagine that just after the photographer took his picture, one of the double phones that stood on every desk started ringing.

A moment in Volvo's history.