Scan Magazine, Issue 117, October 2018

Page 78

Scan Magazine  |  Special Theme  |  Nordic Architecture & Design – Sweden

Kata Farm’s architecture blends in beautifully with the rural surroundings.

Past masters The importance of understanding history is at the heart of AIX’s architecture and, with two nominations in this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF) awards, the Stockholm-based architects have shown that the past can, and should be, a beautiful and relevant part of our present. By Liz Longden  |  Photos: Antonius van Arkel

The rural ruins of Sweden’s oldest surviving church and a 100-year-old university campus may not, at first glace, appear to have much in common. But both have been developed by AIX to international acclaim, with a common philosophy: that historic sites should be preserved not as relics, but as living sources of inspiration which help us to move towards a better future. AIX take on projects from across a number of disciplines, including new constructions. However, with a studio dedicated to the renovation of historic buildings and the development of culturally important sites, a sensitivity to78  |  Issue 117  |  October 2018

wards the interplay of past and present permeates all their work. It was this awareness which made them the perfect partners for both Sustainability House, a major new building on a campus of Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), and Kata Farm, a protective shelter over the site of a 1,000-year-old Viking church. These two very different projects, united by the importance of historical continuity, have both been nominated on the 2018 WAF shortlist.

A living complement The brief for Sustainability House was to create a new building to house academic

offices, in a location which is surrounded by listed buildings and situated within the bounds of Stockholm’s National City Park. This meant that the building had to not only be functional and innovative, but also respect the heritage and restrictions of the site and complement the existing architecture. “If you’re building on a culturally or historically important site, there are a lot of things, like pieces of a puzzle, which have to fit together,” explains lead architect Sven Ahlénius. “You have to ensure a kind of continuity with the past, but at the same time, try to create something that has contemporary relevance, and which is also built as sustainably as possible. So those are the kind of questions that we work with a lot at AIX and which were also relevant here.” The result was a building which Ahlénius describes as a “contemporary

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