Dieselverkstaden: A Community Engine

By: Holly Truitt, Director of The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area

Today team spectrUM – as our grand finale in our quest to better understand the “culture house” model – had a delightful time at Dieselverkstaden (also known as Diesel) while others in the delegation visited another site. A newer culture house in the Stockholm area, it came recommended to us multiple times as we visited other sites across Sweden.

Situated in a former diesel engine warehouse, it is home to: a library that feels like a favorite bookstore; a cafe with one of the best coconut macaroons I’ve ever eaten; art, dance and ceramic studios open for community use; an indoor climbing gym; a museum; and a small co-working space and theater.

First floor of Diesel.

First floor of Diesel.

My colleague, Hannah, and I planned to stay for an hour or so, but ended up spending most of the day because it was such a lovely place to explore and linger. As spectrUM

thinks of ways to help to build a Culture House in Missoula, here are three winning concepts we think are worth replicating back home.

Diesel’s design:

  1. On its vibrant main floor, it has a gallery with rotating art exhibition. Currently they’re displaying sculptures on a floor covered in butcher block for children of all ages to draw.We’re smitten with their approach of bringing together fine art and child- created art in one space.

    Fine art gallery for child and family exploration.

    Fine art gallery for child and family exploration.

  2. Those of us in the social sciences field think a great deal about creating third spaces – not home, not work, but a community space where you gather, connect and spend time. Diesel has hit a home run by creating a third place for its community in part because it has created ample space for gathering, meeting and connecting. At its heart is a cafe with great seating that was basked in sunlight throughout our stay. Plus, throughout the library, there were numerous small seating areas tucked among stacks, including a very sweet children’s reading area.
  3. By bringing so many partners and uses under one roof, they have created a rich environment with a hook for all learners, who likely come for one thing and stay to explore an array of other interests, including many that are new.  As a result, each moment during our stay buzzed with energy and activity.

    Diesel Museum.

    Diesel Museum.


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