Architecture matters. It can be the narrative for a city, It can reflect a city’s history, mood and emotion. Looking up rather than around can tell you more about a people than a guidebook ever can.
This week, architects from eleven of the world’s leading firms are in Stockholm as the final briefing and selelction process gets underway to find an architect to design the new Nobel Center on the Blasieholmen peninsula in the Swedish capital Stockholm with the winner being announced in the spring of 2014.
The firms selected for this phase of the competition have a complex task ahead of them in preparing concepts and illustrating how the Nobel Center will have a relevant and interated relationship with the marine setting for the Center on a site reserved for some time for a civic amenity, on the Blasieholmen peninsula, also home to the National Museum. After final concepts are presented in September, two to five practices will move on to the final selection for the new Centre which has been made possible by a significant donation from the Erling-Persson Family Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
“We are delighted that we can now realise the more than century-old dream of a Nobel Center. With this donation, the two foundations are showing their commitment and support for projects that will promote the dissemination of knowledge. The Nobel Center is an important investment in the future of Stockholm. A strong home base will also enhance the ability of the Nobel system to develop internationally, ” – Lars Heikensten, Executive Director, Nobel Foundation.
The list of participating architects is almost a who’s who of European practices, including Herzog & de Meuron, and OMA with one notable exception, Japan’ese based SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. Buildings like the OMA designed the Coach flagship store in Omotesando in Japan – are breathtaking and its organic look is the sort of theme that may well appeal to the judges for the Nobel Centre, but the work of Kazuyo Sejima has, for as long as I’ve been looking at buildings, captivated me. One of SANAA’s best known – almost iconic projects, is the New Museum in Bowery, New York . Limited by the space of the site, Sejima and Nishizaw arrived at a ‘shifted box’ solution that added space between the building and the perimeter. Its design is perfect for the contemporary dedication of the New Museum and it’s perfect for the Bowery district as part of the Lower East side revival. It’s easy to look at the building, described by Conde Nast as one of the seven-wonders of architecture and think of Corbusier – machines for living, or in this case machines for storing – intentional or not, it’s brilliantly conceived. A large personal donation will help Stockholm get a new Nobel Centre and my money’s on SNAA to give the Nobel Centre, something very special.