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Heritage row erupts over Chipperfield’s Nobel Centre

Heritage campaigners have branded David Chipperfield Architects’ Nobel Centre proposal in Stockholm a ‘monument to themselves, at our expense’

A campaign has been launched on Facebook to protect two historic buildings threatened with demolition by the competition-winning headquarters.

The group – which has more than 5,000 likes on Facebook – said in a statement: ‘We have nothing against a new Nobel Center [however] must the Nobel Foundation really build a gigantic monumental building on one of the most fragile places in our beautiful city?’

It continued: ‘We are opposed to the star architects who will construct their angular spectacle of glass and steel in the middle of the protected historic environment as monuments to themselves, at our expense and the city.’

An online petition set up by the group against the new building has so far received close to 2,000 signatures.

The appeal comes just months after the RIBA Gold Medallist’s £18.9 million Geffrye Museum expansion was abandoned following a row over the demolition of a nearby former pub.

Chipperfield defeated Sweden’s Wingårdhs arkitekter and Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor to be ‘unanimously’ selected for the high-profile Nobel Centre job last week.

The customs house and warehouses threatened with demolition on the Blasieholmsudden peninsula. Image by Jeppe Wikstrom

Source: Image by Jeppe Wikstrom

The customs house and warehouses threatened with demolition on the Blasieholmsudden peninsula. Image by Jeppe Wikstrom

The new building on the Blasieholmsudden peninsula will include exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, a library, restaurant, shop and a large auditorium where the annual Nobel Prize award ceremony will take place.

If built the structure will replace an 1876 customs house by Axel Fredrik Nystrom – the architect of Sweden’s Old National Archives.

Two wooden warehouses from 1910 will also be cleared to make way for the Nobel Centre which is planned to open in 2018.

 

Nobel

 

Postscript 17.04.04

Annika Pontikis of the Nobel Foundation said: ‘This is the site that has been given to the project by the city of Stockholm. The city has been saving it for a very long time for a cultural project with international outreach and they felt the Nobel Center would be perfect. The two stage competition gave us an opportunity to thoroughly examine the possibilities of maintaining the existing values of the site as well as replacing them and adding new. We believe new public activities on the site will provide major opportunities to breathe life into the harbor environment in a better way than today.

‘The location of our suggested building makes it possible to create an attractive sunny city park with a public walkway along the quay. It will be possible for visitors to arrive by boat and also to continue mooring larger vessels. Most of the sight lines deemed especially important in the cultural history inventory are left free and the back of the adjacent Nationalmuseum enjoys a freer location. However, we maintain a close dialogue with the public authorities, which during the planning process will examine what will happen to the existing buildings on the site and review the options available to somehow preserve them. Finally, it is the City of Stockholm that decides on the local plan for the site.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Readers' comments (2)

  • Is it one storey too high? Dominating not respecting its neighbours, could more be placed below ground?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Architecturally I think the building might work - but it is badly suited to the place. In face, the place itself should not be exploited in such a hard way. This is shipmaking and customs area which dates back to the 17th century providing a beautiful romantic "green lung" to the dense architecture so characteristic of the historic centre today. As the article highlights, the customs house from 1876 was built by a famous Swedish architect, Axel Fredrik Nyström, who belonged to the Royal Caste of Drottningholm at the time and has many public buildings to his fame. To demolish this building - even to move it to another place - would be a tremendous loss to the cityscape and overall impression of Stockholm as an archipelago city built on islands. The boats traficking the islands are still using the docks and have nowhere to move. This project needs to be substantially redone if it should even remain in the designated area. Best would be to situate Chipperfield's brass construction in one of the new aspiring parts of the city, such as the Hagastaden Science City where it would have a natural connection to science and innovation.

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