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Swedish Architects on Time and Design

As the premier architecture award show in the Nordics, Arkitekturgalan, is set to begin on April 7th, we check in with a trio of Swedish architects.

The Fourth Dimension

Arkitekturgalan is the largest event celebrating architects in the Nordics, and the 2022 festivities kick off on April 7th. Ahead of the gala, we have spoken to three Swedish architects to understand how they think of and manage the aspect of time in their designs.

A Home Built to Last

One of the main ways in which architects must consider the time aspect is the longevity of their creations. For how long is a building expected to stand, be usable, and remain relevant in its function and design?

Stina Johansson works for architecture agency Witte Sundell and is mainly involved in the construction of apartment buildings in the Stockholm area. As there are many stakeholders involved in the housing market, she tells us that the architect rarely has full control of factors that affect longevity, but that a rule of thumb is to construct buildings that last for at least 100 years.

In the private villa segment, we talked to Pål Ross who aims to create houses for his clients that can be used for 200-300 years. Along with his team, he works with exclusive designs that are tailor-made for clients who spend a substantial amount of time and resources to get everything just right. In such cases, passing the house on to coming generations is most often the plan, which requires the architect to consider a longer time horizon.

Timelessness vs Trends

We often hear about a design being ‘timeless’, but is there really such a thing or are there just recurring trends that come and go over time? We asked our architects to share their thoughts.

Erik Andersson, who has spent many of his years as an architect designing bridges and art pieces in addition to houses, believes that both cases are commonly occurring. There are certain designs that you could not pinpoint to any particular era, making them essentially timeless. However, he also points out that there is value in designs that are clearly from a certain age, as they tell us a lot about the culture and people of that day.

While Stina Johansson agrees that some designs can be considered timeless, she raises that even such pieces can be at the mercy of trends that come and go. A certain designed chair can, for instance, be popular for many decades and seem to never grow out of style, just to one day lose its popularity when it feels like everyone has one. A few decades later, it can just as arbitrarily be back in vogue again.

Homes for Every Stage in Life

Another time-related aspect that is important for architects to consider is the years that the homeowner can spend in their home. All three architects spoke of the changing needs people have over time through the various stages in their lives.

Opting for quality materials during construction is one way to ensure that the home is built to last, says Erik Andersson. Building flexible spaces that can easily be repurposed when needs change is another important way to future-proof a home according to Stina Johansson.

For Pål Ross, whose clients are likely to stay in their villas for the long run, considering the various life stages is essential. A home should be attractive and functional for the whole family, as well as the parents alone once the children move out. Most importantly, he says, having the privilege of aging should never be a reason to have to leave. Therefore, he always equips multifloored homes with a lift and avoids narrow hallways, for instance.

Ross also points out that visits from children and grandchildren become increasingly important in old age, why he encourages everyone to make their home as inviting as possible to make the time that remains a good time indeed.

Aritco is a proud sponsor of Arkitekturgalan and looks forward to partaking in the 2022 event.

Photo below: design©️Pål Ross

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