Building Design – All the press reports about England having the most ‘bogged down and protracted’ planning system in the world are wrong. Protests and JRs in Sweden often mean that major projects can take decades. Though David Chipperfield seems to be gaining a rep for insensitivity re Heritage Assets and Settings
The Nobel Foundation has insisted that a campaign to block David Chipperfield’s Nobel Centre will not succeed in moving it to another part of Stockholm.
The site, on a promontory in the heart of the Swedish capital, was donated by the city authorities which has been saving it for just such an international cultural project, a spokeswoman told BD.
Thousands of protestors have joined a Facebook group objecting to plans for a “monumental building” in a “fragile” part of the city.
And nearly 2,000 have signed a petition against the plans, with 400 adding their names in the week since Chipperfield was named winner of the international design competition.
It declares: “We are opposed to star architects constructing their angular spectacles of glass and steel right in the middle of the protected historic environment, as monuments to themselves, at our expense and the city’s.”
They are particularly upset that construction of the Nobel Centre will result in the relocation of ferries and the demolition of a number of historic harbourside buildings in the Blasieholmen area.
These include the Customs House, dating from 1876 and designed by Axel Fredrik Nystrom, architect of the capital’s Old National Archives and the Naval Academy. Stockholm’s last two surviving wooden harbour warehouses, dating from around 1910, are also due to go.
Caroline Silfverstolpehe of the Preserve Blasieholmen network, described Chipperfield’s design as a “giant colossus – a de facto convention centre on the mediaeval quayside pillaging everything in its path”.
In a fast-developing city, buildings that speak of its past are more important than ever, she said.
“[The Nobel] is obviously an important part of Sweden and its history that absolutely deserves to get a special place,” she wrote on the website Stockholm Skyline.
“But does it make sense that this is at the expense of other important values, such as the city’s cultural, historic buildings and shipping? The answer is no. Stockholm has room for both these buildings, shipping and a Nobel Museum…
“It is difficult to imagine a more vacuous locus for the solemn Nobel festivities than the one currently planned. It’s time to open both eyes.”
But Annika Pontikis of the Nobel Foundation said: “This is the site that has been given to the project by the city of Stockholm. The city has been saving it for a very long time for a cultural project with international outreach and they felt the Nobel Centre would be perfect.”
She said such campaigns were a typical part of the planning process in Stockholm. The public could have its say through a consultation process that has just begun.
“It’s a city where larger projects of this kind are met with all kinds of discussion and groups of this kind are quite normal,” she added. “We wouldn’t anticipate anything but a debate.”
Chipperfield, who was not available to comment, will now work on detailed plans with a view to submitting the project for planning in the autumn.
The architect was replaced on the redevelopment of the Geffrye Museum in east London after protestors objected to his plans to demolish a Victorian pub. But its plans for Elizabeth House were approved by a planning inspector despite complaints that it would damage views from the Westminster World Heritage Site.