135 years of shaping the way we live

135 years of shaping the way we live

We’ve achieved a lot in the 135 years since Rudolf Fredrik Berg founded Skånska Cementgjuteriet, the company that would become the Skanska of today. From rescuing the 3,000-year-old Abu Simbel temple in Egypt, and building hydro and wind power plants in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, to equipping global cities such as Stockholm and Boston to resist the effects of climate change, we have been long part of historic shifts and events.  

We are as proud of the landmarks we have built and developed – such as the Oculus transit hub and the redeveloped LaGuardia airport in New York, the “Gherkin” at 30 St Mary Axe in London, Öresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark, and the European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden – as we are of the homes we have built for millions of people.

Over the next few months, we will be highlighting some of these achievements.

Join us on our journey through history as we shape a better future.

A man with a vision

Rudolf Fredrik Berg was a man of vision who understood a simple truth: what is good for people and society is also good for business. In 1887, when he founded the company that would become Skanska, Berg not only took a revolutionary approach to the use of concrete – he also introduced radical ideas such as free healthcare and accident insurance for his staff.  

A firm believer in everyone’s access to a decent home, he created programs that enabled staff to build homes. An active member of the community, he helped build a school, a library and a healthcare center. Later in life, he became passionate about the involvement of trade unions in negotiating fair collective agreements for staff in his businesses. 

The decisions RF Berg took 135 years ago still guide our purpose of building for a better society.

There’s no place like home

We’ve known throughout our 135-year history that there’s no place like home. We were building our first homes within 10 years of our foundation in 1887. And ever since, we have been creating solid homes for millions of people around the world. 

As part of Sweden’s ambitious Million Program in the 1960s, we built around 100,000 homes around the country. In the 1990s, together with IKEA we developed BoKlok, the affordable residential housing concept providing sustainable home ownership.

Our housing projects are building stronger communities, and better lives. 

Did someone say impossible?

For 135 years, our engineers have seen “impossible" as a challenge. Whether it is saving 3,000-year-old temples, building bridges to connect countries, or creating hydroelectric power stations that transform lives for millions, we take the attitude that it can be done – we just have to work out how. 

And we’re just getting started, as we continue to research innovative solutions for reducing climate impact while shaping society. 

135 years of innovative firsts

The first concrete bridge we built – in 1887 – is still standing. The bridge, in Jordbro in southern Sweden, was revolutionary for its time, something most people thought impossible. Until we made it happen.

We’ve made a habit of being first. Like when we built Sweden’s first multi-lane highway, bringing the country into the modern motor age, in 1953. Or our work today on developing a robotic platform that can perform pre-programmed tasks while navigating a construction site. Or creating a low carbon asphalt and low-carbon concretes that allow us to cut emissions without sacrificing longevity or quality.

Being first isn’t something we focus on. But we are always looking for new ways to solve society’s construction and engineering challenges, because that is where we excel. That is part of what we do every day in our work, small decisions that make a big impact.

Power to the people

Access to electricity transforms lives. And enabling societies to warm, power and light up homes and businesses using renewable energy is one of the challenges of our age.

At Skanska, we have spent decades delivering renewable energy, in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America: from hydro power in Kenya in the 1970s and 1980s, to wind power in Sweden and Chile in the 21st century. Clean power that not only keeps the lights on, but reduces society’s reliance on fossil fuels.

And now we are developing a new generation of energy-positive buildings, like Powerhouse Brattørkaia in Trondheim, Norway, which generate more energy than they consume.

Shaping the way we work

When we spend a third of our lives at work, we need our workplaces to be sustainable, productive, and good for mind and body – and the planet. For decades, we have been reshaping understanding of offices and commercial spaces to anticipate and reflect social and scientific advances.

Hyllie Terrace, being built in Malmö, Sweden, will be our first climate-neutral office building, with recycled materials, low-carbon concrete and solar panels helping it achieve net-zero carbon emissions from its own operations and entire value chain by 2045.

The Bank of America Tower in Houston, US, has set a benchmark for future developments, embracing the most stringent green building certification requirements.

As well as providing access to green spaces to places for physical exercise, our modern office and commercial developments are created to be safer places to work, with better ventilation and smart solutions to limit the spread of pathogens.

Just as the nature of work has evolved, so too has the nature of the workplace. What is yours like? 


We’re proud to have played a role in delivering some of the world’s best known and most loved landmarks. Like the World Trade Center Oculus in New York, commemorating the 9/11 terrorist attack that devastated the city in 2001. The striking Oculus, which depicts a child’s hands releasing a white dove, symbolizes the light that continues to shine after the darkness of tragedy. 

The United Nations Headquarters in NYC are a global symbol of international cooperation. But by the start of the millennium, the complex – built in 1951 – was showing its age. We were contracted to conduct a full refurbishment, and in 2015, the fully renovated headquarters opened their doors.  

In London, ‘The Gherkin’ has become a fondly regarded feature of the financial district’s skyline. More formally known as 30 St Mary Axe, the distinctive pickle-shaped skyscraper rises 180 meters into the sky. It has become both a London landmark and a symbol of our ability to deliver iconic places of any size. 

More than just pretty buildings, the landmarks we shape reflect human aspirations and inspirations. They bring something special to our lives.


Among the most extreme working environments around, tunnels create challenges that stretch the limits of the possible and bring important benefits for the people and communities that use them.

In Los Angeles, we are delivering the first stage of the Westside Purple Line Extension to the Metro Rail. When the project was first proposed 30 years ago, the dangerous gas deposits and La Brea tar pits were thought to make the tunnel impossible. But thanks to new technology, and some Skanska ingenuity, the project is becoming a reality.

Sometimes tunnel projects bring important lessons. In the 1990s, we were overseeing construction of the Hallandsås rail tunnel in southern Sweden when a chemical leak caused harm to people and the environment. The project was urgently halted, and remedial work began. It was a humbling time for us, which taught us that we needed to do better.

Determined to improve, we became the first global construction company to be environmentally certified. Today, we are proud to be the industry leader in sustainability, with planet-friendly construction approaches and a solid plan to achieve net zero emissions.

Continually striving to do better. It’s the Skanska way. 

01 Fear of the new
Fear of the new | We have built many famous bridges over the years, but one of our first was also one of Sweden's first concrete bridges, built in 1887 – the year Skånska Cementgjuteriet was founded. There was general skepticism about the new material, so to reassure the inhabitants in the small village of Jordberga in southern Sweden, the concrete was covered with a layer of hewn granite. The stones on the outside gave the construction a stable impression, and the bridge is still in use today.
02 Powering change
Strong foundations | Skånska Cementgjuteriet quickly became known for being able to take on the challenging foundations of monumental buildings. For Stockholm’s Royal Opera, opened in 1898, the foundations required 9,000 cubic meters of concrete. This was followed in 1902 by the foundations for Rosenbad, the seat of the Swedish government, and the Central Post Office inaugurated in 1903. Large ports also posed a challenge: the dry dock in Malmö, at 163 meters, was Scandinavia's largest in 1909.
03 Powering change
Powering change | Industry's demand for electricity accelerated the expansion of major power plants in Sweden. A concrete casting team consisted of mixers, stampers, mold builders, blacksmiths and transport workers, so major constructions required large numbers of skilled workers – which Skånska Cementgjuteriet could provide. Kvarnsveden power station was completed in 1900. Another early power plant was Bullerforsen, with construction costs of SEK 1.5 million in 1910, equivalent to around SEK 80 million today.
04 Impressive dimensions
Impressive dimensions | In 1925, construction began on a double-track railway bridge over Årstaviken in Stockholm – a state-of-the-art project for the time, using chutes, cranes and hand-cranked tools. The foundations of the bridge piers were cast underwater with the help of caissons, watertight retaining structures, which were lowered and kept in place using compressed air. At 753 meters, Årsta bridge was Sweden's longest at the time, inaugurated by King Gustav V in November 1929. It was classified as a monument in 1986.
05 Full speed ahead
Full speed ahead | In 1952, Lundavägen was Sweden's busiest road, with 6,000 cars per day. Skånska Cementgjuteriet was one of several contractors assigned to build Sweden's first highway, to replace the road between Malmö and Lund. The highway would be huge: double carriageways, each seven meters wide, separated by a three-meter central strip. Many locals could not see the need for such a large road in the agricultural landscape. The 11-kilometer concrete highway required a workforce of 400 men. On September 8, 1953, the new highway was inaugurated, with Sweden’s Prince Bertil the first to test drive the stretch. Today, the road is called the E22 and is Skåne's busiest.
06 Homes for all
Homes for all | In the 1950s, Skånska Cementgjuteriet launched a technique that would revolutionize home construction: prefabricated concrete components manufactured in a factory and then assembled into homes on site. The new concept brought many benefits, including production under controlled conditions and a reduced need for labor, which both reduced costs and made the work more efficient. Sweden’s 1965-1974 Million Program aimed to eliminate the country’s housing shortage. Concrete and cement, in combination with industrialized construction methods, were crucial for success. During this period, we built 10,000 new homes every year.

And we're just getting started...

We are proud of our history and what we have achieved so far. But we see this as only the beginning. Our world faces both significant challenges and great opportunities. Using our knowledge & foresight, we are working to shape a better future.