Uppsala: Two Important Buildings
August 21, 2008, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Rural Architecture, The Modern List, Travel, Urban Architecture

North of Stockholm, about an hour by train, is the small university town of Uppsala. It makes for a nice daytrip from the Swedish capital and there are several good reasons to visit. The town is made up of quiet but beautifully traditional architecture… and a couple of extraordinary exceptions.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The Uppsala Concert Hall was designed by Henning Larsen and completed in 2007. The building is clever because of its rainscreen system. While there are only a couple of different envelope planes, the rainscreen undulates and gives the skin a complexity of depth. This is achieved by a rainscreen composed of metal boxes – each one bent into 3-dimensional forms of differing depths, like origami, and mounted to the structure. In addition to changing planes, the metal boxes are also angled thereby enhancing the reflections, light and shadows. Glazed panels of the same proportion are intermixed with the metal boxes.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The building is a feast for the eyes. There is a great modern café at the base from which to sip coffee and watch the façade change throughout the day. The interior, with its sleek red atrium, is also a gratifying experience.

[photo by BUILD llc]

A 45 minute walk from downtown Uppsala is Gamla Uppsala. In addition to the area being a historical village it was also an important religious site and burial ground. The ‘Royal Mounds’ located on the site mark the graves of Viking royalty dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. The austere earth-forms take on a powerful minimalism rarely achieved even by modern geometries.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Accompanying the burial mounds is a masterful museum completed in 2000 by Nyréns arkitektkontor AB. The structure includes exhibit space, a shop and an indoor/outdoor amphitheater. A concrete shell mimicking the geometry of an ancient Viking hall establishes the envelope of the building.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The concrete shell is wrapped with a cedar plank rainscreen at the exterior walls and a board and batten cedar roof (that’s right a b&b roof!).

[photo by BUILD llc]

The windows and re-lites, set within copper frames, evoke strange, mysterious geometries. Between the concrete, cedar and copper the overall architecture is weathering beautifully.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Light apertures in the roof structure are opened and closed manually by means of climbing ropes and pulleys. In an age of overcomplicated, overdesigned light screening and filtration systems this method seemed effective, primitive and refreshing.

[photo by BUILD llc]

These and many Stockholm finds can be downloaded here.


1 Comment so far
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While these scenes are arresting and make me want to re-locate to Europe, I’m pleased that a new contemporary sensibility is taking hold in America, slowly but seemingly surely. What an interesting notion, designing air flow accommodations that require human interaction!

Comment by les Fitzpatrick

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