Success depends on form and function

Editorials by Mikael Eliasson

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN The April morning was clear and the sun had already risen quite a way. I looked east across Nybroviken, with the sunlight playing on the water, towards the characteristic silhouette of the magnificent Vasa Museum – a building that was nominated for Träpriset, Swedish Wood’s architecture award, in 1992. I stopped and pondered the wooden building, which encloses perhaps the best preserved ship from the time, the warship Vasa. The museum provides a fantastic insight into many aspects of the 17th century.

The tragicomedy is that this museum is the result of a fateful design fault, partially caused by a drive to carry heavier armaments than ever before, but also to show a tiny bit of flair. After all, Sweden was a major power at the time.

As I continued my stroll around Nybroviken, I thought about architecture in a broader sense. In the Vasa Museum, we have a functionally and architecturally well designed creation that houses another architecturally dazzling creation, if one can say such a thing about a ship. However, the latter’s function was severely substandard. Nevertheless, I believe that one must push the boundaries to achieve progress.

What can we learn from this? Success depends on form and function. Perhaps architecture has the task of taking a broader view and even more clearly addressing different aspects of design. As an important element of urban planning, architecture has a particular responsibility. It is clear that collaboration between the project partners at an early stage is incredibly important in ensuring that the result is cost-effective, environmentally friendly and aesthetically appealing. There are, unfortunately, many examples of the opposite.

Building for a society that wants to show respect for all its citizens requires extra care. In this issue, we look at a French social housing project. We also find out about a commercial project, a conference centre in a finance district that is innovative on many fronts. Like the salvagers of the Vasa, we also get to the bottom of structural engineering know-how in an interview with Jöran Jermer.

I hope you have an enjoyable read. The biomass factory that is the forest is now getting started!

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