— 11 Sep 2018 by James Chapman
Office Trip to Sweden
Last weekend Ström Architects went on an office trip to Stockholm to immerse ourselves in Swedish design and culture that is so important in our work:
Our first stop from the airport is to visit our new build house project which is under construction on the outskirts of the city. The sky is grey and the clouds are heavy but this beautiful seaside plot lifts our spirits with stunning framed views of sea and sky amid a series of flowing interior spaces. After a full inspection of the house we head off around the bay to view the house from across the water which provides a photo opportunity of the team from a rocky outcrop.
As evening draws in we head to back to Stockholm for hotel check-in and the start of the evening events. After an introduction to the Swedish draught beer, six happy architects emerge onto the buzzing Friday night streets. Traveling by tube we witness the cavernous interior of the Rådhuset tube station and proceed to the underground Boule Bar for an action-packed shooting contest and top-notch food and beverage. Heavier and happier, we head back to the hotel bar for a finer inspection of the drinks menu and to familiarise ourselves with Swedish alcohol pricing.
Saturday’s architectural tour starts with quiet expectation at John Pawson’s Palmgren House on the shore of Lake Drevviken. Greeted by our most hospitable and demonstrably enthusiastic owner we are treated to stories of the design evolution, the narrative of details and materials; and discussions on furniture, art and the origins of creative inspiration.
The visit culminates with Swedish Fika (coffee and pastries) in the tranquil courtyard at the back of the house with views out to the seascape. This is a very special moment which captures the essence of why Magnus brought us to Sweden, to experience his love for thoughtful quietude, nature, natural materials and well-designed purposeful products and furniture.
Feeling calm and hangovers all but a distant memory, having been bathed and soothed by our immersion in Villa Palmgren, we head forward to Årsta Church deigned by Johan Celsing. A brick facade rather than render this time greets us as we exit our transit and our pulses quicken as we take in the rocky site. On entering the church, we split up to explore and experience the dramatic sequence of spaces. After the first rush to capture the building’s interior on camera we simultaneously sit, stand, play piano, smile, stroke surfaces and finally lift our gaze upwards in architectural contemplation.
Inspired yet emotionally exhausted we head off for nourishment in the less than aspirational environment of a local fast food eatery. Feeling full but guilty by association we head full steam to Asplund’s and Lewerentz Woodland cemetery to purge our excessive gluttony.
The late afternoon is warm and still and the monumental landscape greets us like an old friend. We journey through the site experiencing the landscape and architecture of this UNESCO’s World Heritage site. Our visit culminates at the newly built crematorium by Johan Celsing which is a fitting end to our days inspirational tour.
Continuing our education in the best of Scandi design we head out to Stockholm’s Nordic Light Hotel for diner at the Löjrom and Lykke Bar and Restaurant. Saunders Architecture’s bright, modern interior compliments the mouth-watering Nordic inspired sharing platters including moose, beef tartare, pickled fish and crab. A perfect day comes to an end in the early hours of an underground bar near Stureplan.
Sunday morning greets us with bright sunshine, helping to burn off the nights excesses and we head out on foot to explore the city sights and Stockholm waterfront. Our sightseeing and itinerary ends at the Museum of Modern Art where the Rafael Moneo’s extension provides the backdrop to the international collection of contemporary art.
Where shall we go next year?