After being scrapped in 2018 following a four-year-long firestorm of public controversy, court orders, and royal criticism, Stockholm’s Nobel Center has found a new future home at a waterfront site roughly a half-mile from the original location. As the Nobel Foundation announced in a recent press statement, the Nobel Center—a planned museum, awards venue, and administrative hub for the prestigious set of international prizes—will now be located at Stadsgårdskajen near Slussen in central Stockholm. A waterfront section of the Swedish capital city best known for its mad tangle of 1930s-era roadways, Slussen, which found an early and ardent fan in Le Corbusier, is currently in the midst of a massive regeneration scheme master-planned by Foster + Partners. An area that just happens to be in the midst of a dramatic reinvention seems like a natural fit for the Nobel Center, especially when considering the original David Chipperfield Architects (DCA)-designed project was booted from its planned location next to the Swedish National Museum on Stockholm’s historic Blasieholmen peninsula for being too big, too loud, too incongruous with its storied surroundings. Sweden’s Land and Environment Court squashed the project in 2018 by denying it a building permit, writing that DCA’s shimmering, brass-clad design, which had already been scaled back in 2016 after facing significant public uproar, “would affect the readability of Stockholm's historical development as a port, shipping, and trading city.” The court further stated that construction of the center would “cause significant damage” to the historic fabric of Blasieholmen. The Nobel Foundation opted not to appeal the court’s decision. Not fitting in or upsetting the neighbors likely won’t be an issue in Slussen, where everything is in flux. “Now that the Nobel Center is finding a home in the heart of Stockholm, an important piece of the puzzle in the development of Slussen is falling into place,” said Vice Mayor for City Planning Joakim Larsson. “At one of the city’s largest and most important transport hubs, a house for culture and science with public activities fits very nicely into our vision of transforming Slussen from a traffic interchange into a meeting place for everyone in Stockholm.” With a new site for the seemingly doomed project now secured, there’s still the million-dollar question: Who will design it? As reported by The Architect’s Journal, the Nobel Foundation has yet to select an architect to win over the locals with version 2.0 of the center. The foundation does note that it's “necessary to design an entirely new building" while revealing that the eight firms involved in the 2013 design competition, including winner DCA, have been approached. “We are keen to make use of the experience we have from that process,” said the foundation of the original competition. “Now that the location is set the Nobel Foundation will begin the process of choosing an architect.” “We are delighted to hear that a new site for the Nobel Centre has been agreed upon in the area of Slussen,” responded DCA in a statement to The Architect’s Journal. “The Nobel Foundation has communicated that they will not open a new competition. Clearly there will be further discussion about how the new project will proceed both in scope and in project organisation.” Beating out firms including OMA, Snøhetta, SANAA, and Bjarke Ingels Group, the London-based DCA won the original commission to design the $132 million complex—a complex complete with library, restaurant, exhibition areas, office and conference space, and a stunning auditorium that would have served as a permanent home for the annual Nobel Prize ceremony—in 2014, which was really just the beginning of what AN called a “turbulent journey.” If that journey had ultimately concluded in favor of the Nobel Foundation with little delay, the organization's permanent home at Blasieholmen would have opened to the public last year. Building the new Nobel Center is slated to begin in 2025 at the very earliest; work on an already-planned road overhaul at Stadsgårdsleden has to wrap up first. Once that happens, the Nobel Foundation anticipates that its future home will be completed within two years.
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The shutdown of the Foster + Partners–designed “town square”–style Apple store in Stockholm by the new City Council was only the beginning. Now, the city won’t appeal a decision on May 22 by Sweden’s Land and Environment Court to halt construction of the $132 million Nobel Center, effectively dooming the David Chipperfield Architects–designed complex. Stockholm’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics has also been halted, leaving only Calgary and a joint bid between Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo remaining on the shortlist. The shift is the direct result of the new center-right coalition established in the City Council between the right-leaning Alliance group and the Green Party following an election on September 9 that left the council without a majority group in power. The new power-sharing agreement was only realized in mid-October owing to the more than eight active major parties in Sweden's national politics. The coalition was predicated on two major deals: blocking the Winter Olympics bid and stopping the Nobel Center. This isn’t the first time that Chipperfield’s Nobel Center has faced pushback from the city government, and a revised, more contextual design was presented back in 2016. Opponents have argued that the Center, formed from two stacked boxes wrapped in vertical bronze louvers, would destroy the cultural and historic fabric of Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula. The Blasieholmen extends into the Klara Sjö canal, and the Center would have oriented its double-height presentation out toward the waterfront to provide a permanent home for all future Nobel Prize award ceremonies. Despite the smaller footprint and a tighter circulation plan, the court ruling in May dinged the proposal for the building’s size, out-of-context color, and sensitive location. Now that the City Council has pledged to let the ruling stand, the Nobel Foundation is crying foul. “For the past seven years, we have acted in accordance with our agreements,” Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten told the Architects’ Journal. “We interpret today’s announcement as meaning that the Alliance, in co-operation with the Green Party, is trying to diverge from signed agreements. “A project of major, long-term significance for Stockholm as a city of science and a center for lively discussion in the spirit of Alfred Nobel is thus at risk of being sacrificed to short-term political interests.” David Chipperfield Architects released their own statement, saying that, “The project for the Nobel Centre has been developed over the last five years through a process of continuous dialogue between the client team, planners and the city authority. We are, therefore, extremely disappointed by this announcement.” If Stockholm’s city government ultimately decides not to challenge the lower court’s ruling, the Nobel Foundation will need to go back to the drawing board and choose an alternate location for the Center.
Swiss watchmaker Rolex is looking out for new talent. The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative pairs accomplished artists and designers across all disciplines with emerging practitioners for a yearlong, one-on-one mentorship. At an awards ceremony on Sunday in Mexico City, David Chipperfield was chosen as the mentor in architecture. The partnership with the as-yet-unchosen protege will begin mid-2016. A noted architect of cultural and civic institutions, Chipperfield designed Mexico City's Museo Júmex (completed 2013); the Nobel Center in Stockholm (set to open in 2018); the Royal Academy of Arts master plan (expected completion: 2018); and the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, England. In September of this year, David Chipperfield Architects beat out KPF and Foster + Partners to convert the Eero Saarinen–designed United States Embassy in London into a hotel. For the Rolex initiative, panels of arts professionals all over the world convene to nominate new talent in their respective fields. Mentors choose from a list of three to four finalists. Winners will be announced in June of next year. The pair is asked to spend at least six weeks together, collaborating on projects. Past mentors in architecture include Peter Zumthor (2014–2015), Kazuyo Sejima (2012–2013), and Alvaro Siza (2002–2003). In addition to Chipperfield, this year the committee selected Mia Couto (literature), Alfonso Cuarón (film), Philip Glass (music), Joan Jonas (visual arts), Robert Lepage (theatre) and Ohad Naharin (dance).
The Nobel Foundation has officially launched an international design competition for the creation of a Nobel Center Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. An architectural idea in existence since the 1990s, the Center will serve as a venue for the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, as a space for exhibition, public education, and meetings, and as a symbol of the honorable achievements of Nobel Laureates. Previously, the Foundation released its list of twelve architectural concept winners. These anonymous entries were judged on general building design, structural relationship with the waterfront site on the Blasieholmen peninsula, and shaping the urban context for the proposed functions of the Nobel Center. Now, three firms’ proposals have been shortlisted in a second round, as possibilities for the overall winner. David Chipperfield Architects, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor, and Wingårdh Arkitektkontor are required to submit more detailed design plans for further jury deliberation. The final decision is to be announced in 2014 and the Nobel Center hopes for a grand opening in 2018. Nobelhuset David Chipperfield and Christoph Felger, David Chipperfield Architects - Berlin, Germany The jury comments: The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The façade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan. A Room and a Half Johan Celsing, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor AB - Sweden The jury comments: The proposal is a coherent, classically proportioned building that connects to the surrounding cityscape. Because the building is placed at an angle to Hovslagargatan, this creates an attractive open space near the entrance. The proposal also leaves ample room for a waterside promenade and outdoor public areas. In many ways, its materials and appearance are well adapted to the purposes of the building. A P(a)lace to Enjoy Gert Wingårdh, Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB - Sweden The jury comments: One of the foremost qualities of the building is the openness of its entrance level. Its glass façade is inviting and creates close contact between outdoors and indoors and between urban life and the activities in the Nobel Center. The grand stairway is a classic element that can give the building a dignity that fits the identity of the Nobel Center.