Plummer (Monodimetric projection). Drawing exercise at the young Institute of Technology in Stockholm

The Shift in Swedish Late 19th Century Architecture Training and its Consequences



In 1877 the Swedish parliament finally decided on establishing a school of architecture at the newly founded Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. My research investigates both previous scholarly receptions of this matter of fact and aims to map the outlines of the new reality of Swedish architecture of the period. A hypothesis to be evaluated is that the consequences of the architectural educational shift were fundamentally two: On the one hand the artistic idealism of the Academy of Fine Arts was abandoned as the basis of architectural understanding. On the other hand, the architects starting to identify with the engineering culture eventually led to scientific methods being applied to architectural problems of mass society in the 20th century. My research brings together and analyses the impacts and the considerations of such complexes of thought as academism, idealism, traditionalism, realism, romanticism, rationalism etc.

At this period in time, the late 19th century, my research identifies an interim period characterized by both departure and curiosity. Alongside Swedish scholar Björn Linn I propose the identification of a period of realistic architecture, resulting from the increased interest in the regional and the vernacular in architectural thought. The period spans from the start of the new education until the breakthrough of pseudo-scientific methods in architectural thinking after the First world war. The period bore two seeds of further development for architecture, resulting from the emerging society of industrialization and mass-fabrication. One was the “scientification” of building activities. The other was the artistic attempts to come to terms with the new relationship between man and object.


Exhibition Design Proposal

Sketch plan and wall section of exhibition space
Sketch plan of exhibition space

The exhibition is historical to its nature. It aims to demonstrate how the shift in architectural education in Sweden in the 1870s had consequences for the Swedish architecture of the late 19th century; artistic, aesthetic, ethic etc.

The exhibition space is divided into four rooms. One room is followed by the next in a four-time clockwise movement, resulting in a four-leaf clover sort of spatial configuration. The four spaces are arranged mainly chronologically. They follow rather closely the chapters of my PhD thesis:

Room 1 Background

Albert Theodor Gellerstedt’s drawings from his travels. Drawings from the European trip, from the Swedish countryside, from Gotland, from Stockholm.

Room 2 Institute of Technology in Stockholm 1877-81

Exercise drawings of students of the new architecture education.

Room 3 Royal Academy of Fine arts 1881-85

Exercise drawings of students of the advanced architecture class at the Royal Academy of Fine arts. Drawings from the European study trips.

Room 4 Late romanticism/Realism

The consequences for Swedish late 19th century architecture. Drawings of former students. Juxtaposed to images of the rising age of mass production that supposedly acted as a set-off.

I want the exhibition to be intimate, concentrated and intense with the drawings grouped tightly together thematically. The route is easily comprehended. Some time is allowed for the visitors to shake off the world outside as they enter the exhibition through a corridor that leads to the heart of the exhibition construction. The route aims at a smooth transition of visitors and at avoiding collisions.