Strangnäs, Sweden, 2017
The Imposing Cathedral of Strängnäs atop the kyrkoberget dominates the town and the surrounding territory. The culturally and historically important ensemble of buildings are arranged around the Cathedral within a parkland of grass, with informal gravel paths weaving between historic trees and monuments. The strategy for adding new building to the complex is closely linked to the main entrance court to the west, defined by the west porch of the Cathedral, Domkapitelhuset and Tryckerihuset. The entrance to this western court from the city is framed by the gate between these two historically significant buildings. Here a ‘Bokstöd’ (book end) is placed to further define the west entrance courtyard on its south side. This new volume contains the new entrance to a new community, administration and cultural centre for Strängnäs parish and diocese. A long and generous glazed lobby lines the south side of the square inviting visitors and providing glimpses into the assembly and community hall behind. The visible and representative volume of the new assembly hall is the only apparent imposition within the immediate space around the cathedral and parkland. The reception is placed at the node of several different functions, providing a control point to the office, library and community facilities offered here. There is also a connection into the existing domkapitelhuset from reception. The rest of the new building volume is placed to the street side on the west or is pushed below grade as it also takes advantage of the natural slope to the south but with minimal excavation. Here a new administrative courtyard block is placed on the street to the west, Sturegatan. It is a ‘småstad’ urban building, very much influenced by Hans Westman’s town hall in Simrishamn, which has a similar medieval street pattern, with brick and timber street architecture. The ‘agglomerative’ nature of the brick gothic cathedral and its materials and detailing are reinterpreted anew in the new building’s contemporary but also ‘archaic’ language.