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Swedish Grace

Swedish Grace
A period of Swedish neoclassical design and crafts spanning the 1920's
On view November 14, 2014 - February 14, 2015 in Berlin
Swedish Grace had been a brief yet substantial moment that emerged in the 1920’s and came to represent a brilliant mix of classicism and architectural details. Architecture, interior design, and crafts were defined by simplified shapes and purity of composition -- a huge step away from nationalism and Jugendstil. A young and talented generation of architects and designers looked back to classicism and their own Nordic traditions, and created an incredibly modern vernacular style characterized by timeless proportions, luxuriously superb handcraft, and playful details. Swedish Grace had multi-layered objectives; while maintaining a social agenda, it appealed to the cultural and economic elite of the day through the production of high quality design. In addition to featuring several rare pieces originally exhibited at the Paris World Exhibition 1925, Jacksons is pleased to showcase “Gyllene Salen” (1999), a large-scale photographic septych by contemporary Finnish artist Ola Kolehmainen taken at the Golden Hall of the City Hall in Stockholm.
 Peter Elmlund: Swedish Grace: The Forgotten Modern

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Download a pdf of the book here.

Swedish grace was coined as a term for Swedish neoclassical architecture and design mainly of the late 1910s and the 1920s. This period was in many regards a culmination where Swedish professionals also came to contribute to international architecture, design and urban planning. Classical inspiration was combined with social responsibility and a rising professional self-awareness by architects and designers. The most representative buildings, such as Gunnar Asplund's Stockholm City Library, the Chapel of the Resurrection at the Woodland Cemetery by Sigurd Lewerentz or the Stockholm Concert Hall by Ivar Tengbom, are all world-famous, and the majority of what was built at that period is among the most highly appreciated architecture in Sweden. In this anthology eleven scholars of various nationalities discuss Swedish Grace from different angles, largely displaying its contemporary relevanc.
Stockholm City Hall
Fay Edwards is currently studying for the Prince’s Foundations MA in Sustainable Urbanism, follow her as she embarks upon the INTBAU European Summer School in Classical Architecture in Engelsberg, Sweden. You can find out more about the summer school here. Read on...
Swedish Grace was the last attempt to create a human architecture for our time in Scandinavia, a worthy end of millennials of tradition, before the Bauhaus School and Le Corbusier destroyed everything worth living for.
To get there at all, the first thing is for people to grasp what the main problem is. The creation of a world that is beautiful and in harmony, adequate for the people who live in it, supporting both the personal and the community, urban life, plant life, animals and rivers and all the world we treasure, can only happen if what takes place in the formation of buildings and towns is a continuous unfolding of the whole. That is the way that nature works, and of course necessarily so. For thousands of years all traditional architecture also went forward like that. Briefly it may be called “adaptive morphogenesis.” It’s an adaptive process which allows the whole to guide the formation of the parts created within in it, so it all fits together comfortably. It allows minut adaptations at many points going forward.

The system of planning, regulation, design, and production that we have inherited from the relatively early part of the 20th century makes all of that impossible. CNU is a strongly motivated and in part highly sensible way of addressing this problem. It has arisen from highly sensible people, architects, who are now in a panic because they see the problem, want to do something about it, don’t really know what to do about it, and so they try to hark back to history and historical forms. Their motive is completely understandable, but their means cannot succeed, because they hope to do this within the same technical means of production that are producing the most far-out and absurd postmodern concoctions. Harmonious order cannot be produced by copying the shapes of the past, although I suppose it might be mildly better than indulging in the very horrific architectural fantasies that are deliberately intended to shock. But at root it is the system of production and the processes of production which are at fault. Until these are changed, architecture cannot get better.

This is a very large undertaking. My main reason for having faith that this insight will gradually become a common insight, and be carried forward in the next few decades, is that both complex systems theory and biology already understand these things in their own ways. But oddly enough, the very large community of architects, planners, and ecologists committed to sustainable architecture, building, and planning have not yet really understood the concept of wholeness. It’s the crux of the well-being of the Earth and also the crux of the well-being of human cultures: and it has always been so. Whether people understand it or not, or are willing to believe it or not, that does explain why I have spent the last 27 years writing these four books. It has taken every ounce of energy I have to put it together in an intellectually comprehensible fashion. - Christopher Alexander
 - The Battle for Ordinary Human Existence in Our Time


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