Innovations creating a paradigm shift

OPINION PIECE: Carmen Izquierdo, architect SAR, MSA/arquitecto COAM on how innovations can create a paradigm shift.

Stockholm, Sweden. What happens when something completely new happens? Do we even realise that it has happened? Or does it pass unnoticed in the present, its merit only becoming apparent in retrospect?

Their work makes architects uniquely placed to imagine alternative futures, but realising these visions is only possible when considered alongside ideas about implementation processes.

When architectural ideas drive an implementation process, it is very rare in the Swedish context for them to challenge established norms and break new ground. It is as if the ideas get trapped in a pressure cooker and bubble away, unable to escape. But in the recently inaugurated Wisdome, an extension to Tekniska Museet, the safety valve burst open and the ideas streamed out. The building envisioned by architects Elding Oscarson and engineer Florian Kosche captured the imagination of Swiss carpenters and engineers, who were fired up to create the technical solution and details.

The building, which had to be respectfully integrated into its context, consists of a weatherproof hall and a projection room for an immersive 3D cinema experience using the latest technology. Its form was adapted to both strict planning regulations and internal functional requirements, resulting in an internal spherical shell for the cinema auditorium and an enveloping free-form roof that sits on fully glazed external walls, extending the spatial experience into the museum’s yard. The architects proposed a timber structure based on the gridshell principle, consisting of an undulating grid system in five layers of timber beams, spanning 48 metres without columns. While this structural approach has been previously explored, for example, by Frei Otto in his pioneering Multihall in Mannheim in 1975, there is no precedent in Sweden of the same scale and function, although there are smaller and less complex examples such as the Portalen pavilion in Hageby, Norrköping, created by Map19 Barcelona.

As a visitor, I would like to thank Tekniska Museet for getting the project across the finish line, and the architects, the engineers, the industry through wood supplier Stora Enso, the wood manufacturers, the structural engineers and the craftsmen from Blumer-Lehmann, for not only creating a unique building, but also pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Go there, experience it in the flesh and be inspired by this rare work that, against all odds, has been both created and built in our capital city. Now we know what it takes to drive progress in our field: an idea-driven, knowledgeable, passionate and bold collective effort.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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