Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz’s Stockholm Cemetery project, which followed an international competition held in 1914, was a highly innovative cemetery, replacing the monumentality of traditional places of memory with a design that made use of the natural landscape, a place of prayer and meditation where architectural and artistic elements are harmoniously integrated into their natural surroundings, consisting of big green parks in the northern European tradition. Wingårdh Arkitektkontor’s project for Sundbyberg Cemetery is undoubtedly inspired by the work of Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz.
Wingårdh Arkitektkontor recently designed the Sundbyberg Cemetery Pavilion, an expansion on the administrative offices of Sundbyberg Cemetery in the Stockholm metropolitan area.
The architects respond brilliantly to the need to incorporate the new offices into the context of the cemetery and therefore include an architectural element that is capable of containing these facilities without attracting visitors’ attention or altering the character of the cemetery as a garden, with a glass and timber pavilion that fits “silently” into its surroundings in Sundbyberg Cemetery.
The pavilion is a small building of simple, elegant shape. Its “outer skin” of emerald green glass panels allows the building to change with the seasons; in the summer sunshine it blends into the gardens around it, and when the gardens are covered with snow, the pavilion is dematerialised, reflecting the landscape and the trees around it through a green filter.
The new pavilion contains offices, meeting rooms, staff locker rooms, utility areas and a laboratory. The building was constructed out of prefabricated panels designed and constructed with the aid of computer technology, permitting a high degree of precision for rapid assembly on site. But we shouldn’t be deceived by the building’s simple geometry and apparent lightness: the structure is simple and precise, but it is made of big, thick slabs of wood. Timber was chosen as the structural material, and in fact the beams, weight-bearing walls and finishes are made of wood, as are the ceilings and floors inside the pavilion. Architect Gert Wingårdh reported that the building is the most complicated wooden building he has ever made, for timber is a structurally valid material which however needs to be protected, and so the outside of the building was covered with glass panels. The architect sees the combination of glass and wood as a perfect “marriage” because each of the two materials enhances the properties of the other. Inside the pavilion, the warmth of wood and an interior design featuring clean, simple lines help create a cosy place for people needing comforting at a time of great fragility.
Architects: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor www.wingardhs.se
Team: Gert Wingårdh, Anna Söderberg, Matilda Schuman, Andreas Stålberg, Elin Fyhr, Johan Israelsson, Erik Revellé, Anna Nilsson, Lars Kockum, Buster Rönngren
Location: Sundbyberg, Sweden
Completion date: May 2018
Total area in square meters: Office building 940 sq m
Image credits: André Pihl/Wingårdhs