Renewed designs for Nobel Center

25 Feb 2014

Designs released by Nobel Center by David Chipperfield; Wingårdh Arkitektkontor; and Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor

Three designs for the Nobel Center in Stockholm have been revealed following revisions made to the original competition brief. Twelve architecture practices were invited to take part in the competition in March 2013 and three firms have made it through to the final stages: David Chipperfield Architects; Wingardh Arkitektkontor; and Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor. A winner will be announced in April 2014.

The competition brief was adapted during the second stage of the competition, reducing the size of the programme area. As such, freshly-released designs show a smaller footprint for each entry with open spaces available for the public to enjoy a walk along the quayside on the Blasiehomen Peninsula. The Nobel Center will be a public venue for exhibitions, educational programmes and interdisciplinary meetings to celebrate the stories of the Nobel Laureates.

Lars Heikensten, chairman of the competition jury and Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation explains: "This is an exciting process we are in, and obviously a lot can still happen with the proposals. We look forward to announcing the winning architectural office during the spring and we look forward to initiating a partnership that will result in a new home for the Nobel Prize and a new public environment in a fantastic location on Blasieholmen.”

Extracts from the three finalist proposals read as follows:

David Chipperfield & Christoph Felger, David Chipperfield Architects Berlin

The exposed location on Blasieholmen next to the National Museum functions almost like a stage for the city, where manifold views to the city, but also manifold views from the city into the site are possible. The site is both part and not part of the city fabric. In a figurative sense this interrelation of both looking in and out or being part as well as not being part reflects notions of the essence of science and literature as well as the Nobel idea and as such form a dialectic basis for the approach of the conceptual development.

The concept for the new Nobel Center comprises four major ideas:

Nobel House: The placement of the new building as a freestanding ‘solitaire’ is fundamental to the urban and architectural considerations reflecting the notion of a ‘house’ as a civic building; Nobel Auditorium: The entire Nobel auditorium becomes a ‘grand space’ with large panoramic windows allowing for maximum daylight as well as dramatic views over the city; Nobel Garden: The creation of a large public garden in the southern area of the site - exploiting the openness of the site in relation to its visibility and the course of the sun; Nobel Path: The introduction of a public path through the building starting from an open public ground floor and leading towards the Nobel Auditorium.

Gert Wingårdh, Wingårdh Arkitektkontor

This new proposal promotes the building’s public character and enhances its relation to the site. The curved footprint is a direct response to the Blasieholmen context. It is built upon the original analyses of the site, where the building is kept within the extension of the Käpplingeholmen block, and approximately north of Nationalmuseum.

With the reduced program, and the regularity created by an extended plaza in ‘A p(a)lace to enjoy’ not a realistic option, a new situation emerged: First, the reduced terrain toward the east called for a reduction of the eastern corner of the building; second, a reduction of the western corner shaped a sheltered spot with evening sun connected to the dining area; third, the previous disadvantages when entering and leaving the building with coaches called for a more spacious plaza in front of the main entrance.

Cutting corners did not only create valuable outdoor spaces right where they are needed, but also a plan that corresponds to the circular auditorium. Spatial quality is the common denominator that has evolved the round plan as well as the concavities of the snowflake. A retracted position toward the neighboring buildings emancipated the Nobel Center and opened for an even more unique architecture.

Johan Celsing, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor

The Nobel Center is conceived as a clearly defined building where the vibrant, light, brick structure rises from a transparent podium. The careful composition of the facades and the varied treatments its materials aim to fuse a contemporary vitality of activities and usage with intense but realistic craftsmanship.

The facade could be described as a precise frame behind which an inimitable variety of events will take place. On the inside the Nobel Center displays a number of rich and compelling spatialities that are not immediately visible in its exterior. To some extent the interior can be described as a contrast to the exterior. Visiting the building will therefore be a dynamic journey of discovery between different settings and atmospheres.

The auditorium is one of these interiors; in the shape of an amphitheatre only 15 rows depth. The shape of the seating also means there is strong contact within the audience itself, creating a vital ambience in the hall. The generous daylight through the amphora-shaped oculi in the roof will endow the room with a unique appearance and support its intrinsic role as a space for dialogue and learning.

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