Why are Nordic countries renowned for their design?
Colorful. Modern. Functional. Nature-focused. These are some of the words I associate with Swedish design. And much like Swedish interior design, the architectural design here is also sleek and minimal, with clean and unadorned lines. Light is a big component (which makes sense with the darkness here) and Swedish design often incorporates or takes inspiration from its natural surroundings. Incorporating nature gives Swedish design a strong sense of welcoming and inclusivity. Swedish design is also a hallmark of sustainability, creating buildings that are energy-efficient, future-focused, and not wasteful.
But seeing in believing when it comes to architecture.
Interested in seeing some of the designs for yourself? Here is where to go and what to see:
- In Kiruna, this golden egg will surely be the most unique public sauna you will ever visit.
- Architect Gustav Wickman’s 1912 Kiruna kyrka (Kiruna church) has been voted Sweden’s most beloved building of all time.
- While you’re up in Kiruna, book a night’s stay at the Treehotel in Swedish Lapland. There are multiple treehouse options and each one is designed so uniquely. It is on my Swedish bucket list!
- If heights aren’t your thing, consider staying at the Icehotel Jukkasjärvi instead. Architecture like you’ve never considered before!
Sweden’s “Center”: OK, Stockholm is a little south of center, but you get the point.
- Visit the Artipelag museum on the island of Värmdö in Stockholm’s archipelago to see how Swedish design takes nature into account.
- It might seem a little strange to recommend a cemetery for a place to observe great architecture, but Skogskyrkogården (the Woodland Cemetery) is just that. It is a Unesco World Heritage site and was designed by renowned Swedish architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz after winning an architect competition in 1915.
- Gunnar Asplund also designed the Stockholm Public Library. While I don’t love the design so much, it is one of Asplund’s most famous works.
- If you visit the campus of Linköping University you will find Europe’s most precise electron microscope covered with titanium plates.
- Uppsala Konsert & Kongress was designed on the outside by Henning Larsen Architects and on the inside by White Arkitekter and its facade is reminiscent of piano keys!
- In Malmö, be sure to see the Turning Torso, the train station at Triangeln, and Emporia mall.
- My favorite building in all of Sweden in the Stadsbibliotek (city library) in Malmö. It has been open since 1905 and is half castle / half glass box (known as the “Calendar of Light” and designed by Danish architect Henning Larsen, who also designed the Copenhagen Opera House.
- The Wanås Konst and Kivik Art Center are fun sculpture parks that are very enjoyable during a nice day. Be sure to bring a picnic!
- In Gothenburg, visit the elephant sauna.
- In Kristianstad visit the Naturum Vattenriket, Sweden’s first marine national park!
While this list is by no means comprehensive, I hope it serves as an introduction to Swedish architectural design and gives you at least a few places to check out next time you are in Sweden!
- Connecting Malmö and Copenhagen, the 1999 Öresundsbron is an architectural feat in itself. The structure encompasses a tunnel and an artificial island and was designed by COWI. This bridge is the longest cable-tied road and rail bridge and won the IABSE Outstanding Structure Award in 2002.
- Interested in learning more about Sweden’s architectural design? Visit the ArkDes museum in Stockholm!
- There are many design colleges in Sweden if you are interested in joining the movement yourself!
- If you want to experience Swedish design from the comfort of your own couch, check out the coffee table book New Nordic Houses. It is a beautiful book that has amazing pictures of unique Nordic houses and biographies of the designers that created them.
Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!