Wenngarn - Eight month 120000 work hours later

Page 1





Wenngarn – a history crammed with curiosities Five important core values for the sisyfos project History of wenngarn National treasure nearly ruined Tough start for the sisyfos project 1st of October – day of admittance Refined asylum now a modern hotel l Art treasures missing from wenngarn The gardens take shape Summer of Wenngarn – June 1 Opening day Before and after ... A big thanks to everyone

5 8 18 24 26 29 40 44 46 64 66 76 82

Wenngarn, Eight months – 120 000 work hours Text: Annica Ahlberg-Valdna/Sentence Design AB, Olle Larsson, Hampus Sahlqvist (page 18-20). Translation: Christopher Scott Photo: Anneli Lindh/Care of Lindh, Sisyfos arkivbilder, Peter Rudin, Lars Hellquist. Design: Taeko Östergren, Grafish. November 2014.




WENNGARn A HISTORY CRAMMED WITH CURIOSITIES Wenngarn is a magical site that deserves the utmost attention. The first time I came to Wenngarn in 2009 I fell in love. Beyond the misuse and dilapidation I caught a glimpse of one of Sweden’s most beautiful places. It is a privilege to get to take on such a challenge and this book accounts for the 280 days from the 1st of October 2013 to the 1st of June 2014 when Sisyfos re-established Wenngarn. Wenngarn consisted in 2013 of 70 buildings, 26 000 square meters, real estate and premises of over 35 hectare of land. The aptly positioning between Stockholm and Uppsala, just 15 kilometres from Arlanda and within walking distance from Sigtuna, was a vital condition for the project. Here at Wenngarn there are remnants of thousand years worth of history. Times that occupy both highs and lows. The oldest preserved letter in Sweden concerns a shift in heritage for the areas of Viby/Wenngarn and the centuries has left its toll. The Vasa-family lived here and there are grimy stories of murders and ghosts from the turbulent 16th century. Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie entered the stage during the period that is known in Swedish history as the era of great power (Swedish-Stormaktstiden), in the middle of the 17th century and he quickly became a powerful and wealthy person. He was one of Queen Kristinas favourites. With the following words “I give to thee that, which I myself can not own” she gave away De la Gardie as husband to her beloved cousin Maria Eufrosyne (the sister of Karl X’s, who would succeed Kristina on the throne) 1647. Magnus Gabriel left this earthly life in 1686 at the Wenngarn castle after having been robbed of



Return to the Crown of the fiefs that had been granted to the Swedish nobility

his honour and worldly possessions, alone and impoverished after the reduction1 of Karl XI’s, in his bed in the room now known as the wedding suite. I still to this day feel a tingling sensation as I enter this room. There are many unique environments at Wenngarn from this period: the magnificent baroque gardens, the chapel, the stone terrace and the vast avenues. These are some of the features worth seeing created by the architect Jean De la Vallé and have brought joy to visitors in hundreds of years and will so continue to bring joy in the future. During the centuries up until recent time the aristocratic families succeed each other and the area has up until the 20th century had an important position for the Swedish political elite.


The history of Wenngarn takes a dramatic turn when the Governmental Institute for Alcoholics was opened here in 1916. An outstanding asylum building, drawn by David Lundegård, which surpasses the castle in splendour and sets the starting point for a new era at Wenngarn. The castle becomes degraded to administrative tasks, housing for the superintendent of the institute, post office, school et cetera. Statens Fastighetsverk, the public institute for real estate, formed an entire society designed for the treatment of alcoholics. The “geezers”(gubbarna in Swedish), as the intakes were called, were put to work hard with farming in an attempt to cure them of their sickness. After three to six months they were discharged and got to return home just to find themselves all too often back on the bottle again. The frequency of relapsing was as high as 95 per cent. The nickname TORKEN, the dryer, was a more apt one than labelling it “treatment” since the geezers managed to dry up and rest a few months before they continued their ordinary routine of heavy addiction. After Wenngarn was sold in 1983 to the Levi-Pethrus foundation, a Pentecostal subsidiary, the rehabilitation program continued but in a different, more successful shape with focus on families as a whole. Sadly, the establishment was big and difficult to run; hence it was forced into bankruptcy in 1997. Wenngarn was later sold at an executive auction and the buyer’s plans to transform Wenngarn into a spa following German traditions never came further than the planning stage.

The last ten years is a dark period in the history of Wenngarn. Those who could not fit into “ordinary” society were left to their own fate here, which gradually deteriorated without either governmental supervision or political support. During my whole career as an entrepreneur I have worked with property refinement, that is; to not alter the basic atmosphere, but to preserve the character, to communicate it’s history and to pay respect for those who have lived, worked and had their livelihood within the properties. For a refiner of properties Wenngarn is an ideal project with unique history, enchanting buildings and exciting surroundings. The vision is to rebuild the village community Wenngarn around the castle, the metaphorical heart of the area. It is a great resource for the residents, companies and visitors to gather around. Our five core values for that journey are refine, openness, overall view, participation and passion. Each and one of the core values build upon determination from all involved. The eight months between 1st of October till the 1st of June, during which the Sisyfos project took place, is what this book is about. In June a new phase commenced in the project Wenngarnsummer 2014 – which is going on as I am writing – a summer filled of activities from the 1st of June to the end of August. We turn a new leaf and reveal what Wenngarn has to offer its visitors, residents and workers. We kindly invite you to reflect upon what Wenngarn can add and contribute to make Sigtuna even better. For the future we hope to create a modern village community that is built upon the needs and conditions of the residents. This vision can only come to fruition together with all those who has been involved in Wenngarn. Olle Larsson, owner of Sisyfosgruppen (the Sisyfos group)




The project of refining Wenngarn stems from a couple of basic core values. They are vital in that they enable us to all pull together, and also for the foundation of the open, welcoming society we are trying to establish.

served and enhanced with consideration to those who have lived and worked there. Refining also entails a focus on an eco-friendly re-using of environments, material and origins and to bring back to life the history behind it all.

During the first phase, from the 1st of October to the 1st of June 2014 thirteen specific projects were undertaken: hotel, restaurant, castle, kulturstallet (roughly “culture stable”), park, gym- and business centre and conference facility, just to mention a few. The project ended the 1st of June in conjunction with the opening of Wenngarn Summer. We took off our working clothes and revealed Wenngarn in its developed and refined shape.

OVERALL VIEW In order to create a society you need to adopt an overall view, every function (healthcare, school, preservation, work opportunities) and every category of people (young, old, families, rich, poor) will be able to find their place.


Many buildings here at Wenngarn have been given new functions: the institute for alcoholics, the stable, the concrete factory, the castle, the conservatory – the list goes on. When we renovate and introduce or add a new function we try preserve the history embedded in the walls, but adapt and create functions so that buildings, localities and real-estate can be used by people today. To refine is the opposite of alter, deconstruct or rebuild. The character, history and architecture are being pre-

The overall view follows us in everything we do and plan for the estate. When deciding what houses to build, what type of events to create, in what manner to renovate the gardens. You will also find available places for parties, conference, and living at the properties. At Wenngarn people should be able to live, work and meet. The building will offer a mixture of activities and businesses that contribute to a pleasurable, interesting and rewarding atmosphere. OPENNESS

Wenngarn has been a closed community during the last century and that is why openness is highly prioritized by us. Everyone is welcome here and the location will be

accessible, welcoming and open to the public. There is a beautiful park, gardens, and an open castle with a unique chapel inside. By this openness the buildings and commerce at Wenngarn becomes open for all. PARTICIPATION

A society is not build by a select few, but built together with those who can imagine to live and make a livelihood within it. By igniting participation and engaging people, companies and associations in an early stage we can attempt to create a society that is based upon actual needs that can compliment the existing society. Via networks that are relevant to people with ideas and ambition we invite various parties to participate. This includes both visitors and those who chose to live and work at Wenngarn. Through networking relationships are created which, in turn, generates ideas for the activities at Wenngarn. PASSION

We are passionate about this project and if we can channel our passion and sentiments for Wenngarn to our surroundings we generate ambassadors that, in turn, will carry on a vibrant story telling in a natural, genuine and sincere manner. Wenngarns history fascinates, creates a sense of awe and inspires to wellbeing and passion.






Map depicting the estates of Wenngarn from the 18th century.



Painted inner ceiling in the staircase.

Chapel inside castle, one of few Swedish church interiors from 17th century stormaktstid (era of great power), which is still in practically perfect condition.

Open castle door facing the park (private photo from the middle of the 20th century)



I myself never had feelings of doubt. Here you have incredibly beautiful surroundings, closeness to Stockholm, Uppsala and Arlanda airport, fantastic historical sites, a castle from the baroque era with an adjacent chapel and an astonishing park that stems from the 17th century.” – Olle Larsson




Wenngarn is strategically positioned and there are traces of settlers in the area going far back into prehistoric times. Nearby Wenngarn lies Garnsviken which, during this time, was one of the main routes to Uppsala from the Baltic Sea. The oldest written evidence (somewhere around 1160 AD) concerns a meddling between “Gere, Lord of Wenngarn” and the GreyFriars (Gråbröderna in swedish), an order of monks. This is a clear indication that there used to be an estate where Wenngarn now lies. Shortly after this period a stone house was built, the first part of the castle that we see today. During the 16th century Wenngarn became a part of king Gustav Vasas estates. The kings tax administrator lived at Wenngarn which now, more and more, takes on the shape of a fortress. One of Gustav Vasas sons, King Johan III, donated the castle to his nephew Magnus of Sachsen-Lauenburg. The castle then was passed on to Duke Gustav, his son, who modernised the castle in accordance to the ideals of the time and rebuilt it as a renaissance castle with spacious windows, tall gables and a wing adorned with a tower. He also immortalized his efforts by adding an inscription on one of the wings “The illustrious duke Gustav built this house 1591”. The castle was returned to the crown and given to, in 1628, the general Franz Bernhard von Thurn, an immigrant from nowadays Czech Republic who was enrolled in the Swedish army. It is his son Heinrich who rents the castle to the De la Gardie family. The Wenngarn castle nearby Garnsviken by the Baltic Sea is mostly associated with the Era of Great Power and Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie who bought the estate in 1653.

In a portrait, painted by the Dutch Hendrick Münnichhoven, De la Gardies spouse - the Duchess of Pfalz Maria Eufrosyne stands one step higher, to illustrate her royal ancestry.


Magnus Gabriel De la Gardies different assignements.

The castle lies on top of a knoll with differences in levels between the yard and the gardens. The slopes were used for terrace cultivation. The central axis from the castle ascends through the valley to again re-emerge at a slope. The castle complex contrasts with the rural surroundings of forests, rolling hills, springs and the village buildings. Commencing in 1661 De la Gardie starts a project to modernize and enlarge no less than three of his castles in Uppland, Jacobsdal (today Ulriksdal), Ekholmen and Wenngarn. To exploit the manual labour as efficiently as possible the expansion project ran simultaneously at all three castles, at times even more.


Wenngarn was adorned with a new appearance out of which we still can see parts of today. A complex was created around the castle itself with new wings and vast avenues that led to the castle. From the garden you were met by the view of an imposing park. The castle complex is similar to that of the Italian villa. The term villa in the context of a castle refers to a smaller castle planned for a more informal gathering and a park, a well-kept farm and the view creates the key components in the complex as much as the house it self. What we find at Wenngarn is as much a compromise between old and new that even at that time was completely innovative. The park was the heart of the complex and had several different functions, both for utility and leisure. It was a so-called hybrid park that besides being beautiful and impressive also held useful plants and herbs used in housekeeping. The central point in the park consisted of a fountain. At the farthermost part of the park a bower was set, a vantage point that underlined the length of the park. The

interior was decorated with precious textiles, gyllenläder (a leather tapestry with painted ornaments) furniture and other prized artefacts – all according to the taste of the time. Not much of the inventory remains to this day. The rooms were separated according to the acts in a theatre, they were meant to show off the castle in the most imposing manner possible. The role model for this system of room allotment was found on the continent, mainly France but also northern Europe and Germany. The count and countess’s living quarters were one flight of stairs above entry level with Magnus Gabriels room in the centre, within the vicinity of the chapel. Maria Eufrosynes room was situated in the newly built wing. The manner in which the bedroom was used differs greatly from our modern customs. It was used as a parlour for the most prominent of guests. This demonstrated not only the couple’s superiority over the visitors but also their great confidence and trust in their guests and visitors. De la Gardies economical situation changed drastically during the reduction. The wealth of the aristocrats that had been provided throughout the latest decades was now retracted by kronan (The Crown – the government). Magnus Gabriel was accused of having misused the nations funds when he was förmyndare (custodian) and was brought to court. The consequences brought upon Magnus Gabriel were severe, his estates were withdrawn and his position of power crushed. His wife, Maria Eufrosyne, who was the ruling king’s aunt, was allowed to keep Wenngarn for the rest of her life. Destitute and at his wife’s mercy the count spent his remaining years at Wenngarn.

Venngarn circa 1695. Copper plate by Willem Swidde in Suecia Antiqua et Hodierna. 21

“Geezers” – the patients

The treatment of alcoholics didn’t get started properly until 1920. During the years between 1916-1920 it served as a foster home for unruly boys.

Wenngarns Institute for Alcoholics draped in winter clothing.


Greetings by the Castle Wife.

WENNGARN DURING THE 20TH CENTURY When so the Swedish government commenced their search for a suitable place to establish a treatment for alcoholics, in 1913, they found Wenngarn to be a suitable site. But the treatment didn’t start properly until 1916 when the first patients arrived. In the terms of the contract from 1916-1956 it is said that “with treatment it is intended that the inmates at the institute should through manual labour and moral influence be put on to the straight and narrow path and return to a sober and proper life”, this appears from Johan Edmans thesis “The Dryer – forced labour of alcoholics in Sweden 1940-1981”. Kerstin Hellerstedt tells of how Wenngarn was gradually formed into a society within a society. Farming, gardening and animal husbandry – all was conducted on the premises. A workshop (verkstadshus) was built with cobblers, tailoring, tinsmiths, carpentry, blacksmiths and painters.

Cows in the now burnt down barn.

After the two superintendents Wijkmark and Göransson a Johan Lönnberg took over, father to (above-mentioned) Kerstin Hellerstedt. Life and times in the mid 1930’s as a young girl amongst the “geezers”, as the inmates were called, is described by her as a time filled with mischievous activity together with the other children at the courtyard. The initial schooling took place in the Castle School. There were four children attending in the first grade and another four in the second. At Sundays a sermon was held in the chapel that, by the way, was an excellent place to play hide and seek. She recalls of culling of turnips and weeding, parties, luciatåg (a yuletide celebration of the saint Lucia), football and theatrical plays. A tragic event occurred in 1938 when the barn was burnt to the ground. The fire department came and rescued the animals. During the 1940’s the work on Wenngarn consisted mainly of agriculture and gardening: Eight and a half hour in the weekdays and three and a half in Saturdays.

The castle.

The Wenngarn bus and its chauffeur.

The treatment during the 1950’s and 1960’s consisted primarily of labour, “one of the Institution’s principal aid to keep bodies and minds agile” as it was phrased, and was aimed at giving the intakes a sense of taste for the orderly and sound ways of life. The misuse of alcohol in society increased and when the motbok (a book given to each citizen listing their permitted daily amount of alcoholic beverages) was abolished in 1955 the alcoholics went into an even worse state. The treatment was altered and more and more focused on therapeutic methods and group activities. Wenngarn was sold to the Levi Pethrus-foundation, which was founded in 1959. Their vision was based upon the idea that “with the Christian faith as a basis prevent and remedy drug and alcohol abuse through fieldwork … “. The sale was carried through in 1983 and the purchase price totalled to seven million Swedish kronor through state funded loans. Fourteen years later, in 1997, the

The football team played in the series.

foundation was forced into bankruptcy and that is when Wenngarn AB entered the stage. Ten years later the attempts to sell the estate began. The dilapidation continued and the property was more or less occupied by addicts and people from the margins of society. THE CASTLE DURING EARLY 20TH CENTURY • 30 rooms: reserved as accommodation for certain officials and for office areas. Underwent thorough renovations, supporting beams were fortified. • A richly decorated roof was discovered beneath the plaster on the first floor. Also came across 17th century walls beneath layers of old wall paper. • In 1936 a kitchen was built in the superintendents floor. On the third floor there were an office for the super intendant, assistant, accountant and clerks. The second floor was used as private area for the super intendant.


NATIONAL TREASURE NEARLY RUINED An estate in beautiful surroundings that had been badly neglected and left to its tragic fate - that has been the fate of Wenngarn in recent times. The property’s value decreased greatly over many years - decay and neglect took a firm grip for over a decade. Here an important part of our Swedish cultural heritage has been abandoned, culturally and historically treasured estates and also a national monument, left to deteriorate.


In 1997 the property was purchased by Wenngarn AB for a sum of 26,5 million Swedish kronor. The company was founded in connection with the purchase of the castle. The company leased housing accommodation to people on the fringe of society, some of them with criminal lifestyles. The contrast between the well-kept society that once was Wenngarn, even though run by addicts during the 20th century forced labour, and the later landlords attempts to maintenance, is truly striking. One example of this is when an owner ended up in a dispute with Nationalmuseum (The National Museum) who had deposited artwork in the castle. The museum had to confiscate the artworks, amongst others the famous paintings in Disasalen (The Hall of Disa). How could this happen? How could the prevailing norms in society be totally side-lined and allow the buildings to fall into such a ruinous state? How was it possible that some of the property at Wenngarn was more or less occupied by the inhabitants? Despite warnings from Hyresgästföreningen (roughly translated: the Association of Tenants) in 2010 regarding the cultural and human dilapidation at Wenngarn no one got to grips with the problems. Hyresnämnden (The Commission of Tenants) denied a request for enforced management of the property with the motivation that the owner had a plan of action for the estate and that the estate manager had hired a company to supervise its maintenance. But these measures were never put into practice.


TOUGH START FOR THE SISYFOS PROJECT What has happened at Wenngarn the last ten years is so very strange and hard to understand. How could the society allow that such a historically important and beautiful place in such fantastic surroundings be left to its tragic fate? In the areas surrounding Sigtuna you could sense resignation and hopelessness toward the future of Wenngarn.


When I presented our vision we received a very positive response, but also some scepticism. The area had been for sale since 2007 and a series of proposals were presented only to be rejected. To win over the doubters action was needed, not words. The idea for the Project Sisyfos emerged as a massive eight-month rescue project to regain faith in Wenngarn and to start afresh. Several years have passed, from a model community to a place for those who had no place in society. I never expected the project to be easy but already by the first week the challenges started with personal threats, harassments and arson. I had understood that I would encounter resistance and suspicion when the acquisition of Wenngarn the 1st of October 2013 finally went through, but to this startling degree? However, the struggle had just begun. The many meetings with the previous owner, difficulties with contracts and permits and suspiciousness from other parties - in some sense the tough start became a challenge that caused the entire organization to close ranks and work as a team. A condition to be able to create a new Wenngarn was that the area was given a zoning plan. Thanks to great support and encouragement from those responsible at Sigtuna County Council we handed in our zoning plan in record time that on top of that was so firmly grounded that everyone backed it and no objections were made.

The area surrounding the Hotel is built and renovated – housing for 150 residents.

Hotel Anstalten, equipped with restaurant and conference building, is built in the old alcoholics asylum from 1916.

Norrbacken is rebuilt into student housing.

In the 19th century stable there is now a food- and culturestable.

The gymnasium from 1930 is transformed into a recreational centre for the youth.

In the old barn from 1939, later concrete factory, there is now a 4 000 square metre large company and sports centre.


Sweden’s first baroque garden has been renovated and become a beautiful vegetable garden with, among other edibles, hops and raspberry.

The castle terrace has been renovated and is now beautiful picnic areas with room for live music.

The conservatory – a perfect place for gardening.

Allébyn is expanded with another 40 houses and becomes a small community with 300 residents.

The pavilion is a beautiful Italian-inspired building with several apartments and a stunning view – all renovated into 13 apartments.



1st OF OCTOBER – DAY OF ADMITTANCE The very same day that Sisyfos formally took over the running of Wenngarn a major fire was started at 03.00 am. Five fire brigades had to be called in in order to extinguish it.


120 000 work hours, countless governmental decisions, four arsons and a lot of new grey hairs. It has been a challenge, at times tiring and stressful. But it has also been incredible fun.






The refinement work has gone on during a brief period with lots of people involved. Guidelines and demands from antiquarians and architects has been everpresent and to a large degree formed the work.




The stable is becoming a cultural epicentre with small rooms for each craftsman. There are possibilities for courses and try-out activities. The conservatory was just a while ago used as a artists studio. The gymnasium is used for different child-friendly activities during Wenngarnssommar. Wenngarn has more than 70 buildings on the estate and all are refined with tender loving care.


There are still traces left of the activity from the concrete factory. Two new floors have been installed, the upper – a top modern sports centre with an 85 metre running track. The middle floor is planned to lodge office space and the ground floor different types of business activities.



It has truly been a challenge to refine the large three-storey building. The interior parts that have been possible to salvage have been preserved. In a similar manner the character of the building from the time of the asylum has been preserved; the corridors, the wooden floor and the thick walls - but now in a more modern and more functional form. Hotell Anstalten today welcomes new guests, those who are willing to experience Wenngarns recreations, attractions, togetherness and possibilities to housing and business opportunities. The refinement has been going on only briefly and with many involved. The mid-walls that earlier separated the little rooms have been torn down in favour for larger rooms. But the broad and long corridors, common during the time of the Institution, have been left in their original state. During the end of May the first guests were invited to a sneak preview and were welcomed to the 39 rooms, divided on three floors. The official opening took place in connection with the opening of Wenngarnsummer, the 1st of June 2014. Guests can chose between a single or double room, with great variation in form and style. All of them were decorated with photo-tapestry and histories from events that had occurred during the time when Wenngarn was associated with treatment of alcoholics, that is, early 20th century and onward. The local manager for the rebuilding of the Institution and conference establishment was Jan Lundewall. He recalls that the original plans were not entirely reliable. It became apparent for example when the construction workers started drilling in order to install the new heat and ventilation duct in the ceiling of each room. New challenges surfaced each day and had to be met with new solutions – a living entrepreneurship.

Anstalten 1938.



Some of the mid-walls have been moved in order to make a more spacious area, room for toilette and a shower. The brick walls in the corridors re-surfaced through a method of scraping and the floors in the corridors have been re-tiled with new and easy-to-clean linoleum carpets, one pastel colour for each floor. The original wooden floors for each room have re-emerged through scraping, glazed and, when needed, been repaired. Some rooms have been given new parquet flooring.

Good collaboration between project management, constructors, architects and antiquarian has resulted in some improved alterations from the original plans, such as providing new, larger doors on the front, next to the entry level reception. The idea is that it should be easy for guests to take themselves from the breakfast bar, to the reception and then to the gallery that overlooks the patio and the vast open area that draws one’s attention to the scenery with its gardens and all the cherry trees.

Above ground level there are two dining halls, one smaller for circa 30 guests. The idea is that these groups will be able to stay on and leave through a separate exit at the back of the hotel. The larger dining hall, with a capacity of around 80 guests, is positioned just above the entrance. Here, too, the original floor has been sanded and varnished with a darker more wear-resistant shade. The restaurant has two outdoor cafeterias with a capacity for 120 guests, one of them receiving the morning sun, the other with evening sun.

A new building designed for conferences has been prepared behind the hotel. It consists of barracks from Arlanda airports third flight lane and was originally placed at Wenngarn ten years ago and has since undergone a slow decay. They have now been given a new lease of life. Here also water/heat/ventilation has been installed together with air- and water-cooling instalments. Damage created by dampness has been repaired and a new roof has been placed on top of the old one. A new panel has also been installed in the exterior and given a coating of light yellow paint.

Huge amounts of efforts have been made in order to maintain the original character of the building. The brick walls, spacious corridors, original flooring, wooden floors, windows and rooms are more or less intact. The kitchen area with a clinker floor, tiled walls, the non-corrosive benches, taps, cold storage and bakery area has even been preserved. New equipment, which meets the demands of modern restaurant kitchens, is now installed. A big change in the building is the instalment of an elevator. A necessary requirement for a three-storey hotel which proved to be an arduous project that required the opening of a large hole through the three floors.

The conference building has no less than nine separate localities, made to suit all types of groups, from 6 to 60 participants, a small kitchen and a lounge to relax in. The toilets are adapted for the disabled and physically handicapped. The rooms are equipped with modern projectors and there is fibre optic broadband that will be drawn to each house at Wenngarn.


It has been a real challenge to refine the large three-storey building that used to be an asylum and that is now the Hotel Anstalten.



The castle of Wenngarn, together with its estates, was declared a national monument in 1935. The castles exterior was extremely well preserved as well as the staircase and several interior parts – amongst them Disasalen (The Hall of Disa) – which is of the highest art and cultural historical value. Especially the chapel within the castle is unique because of its pristine 17th-century decor. The art objects would in time prove to be a problem. When Wenngarn in 1983 became a privately owned estate it also lost its status as a national monument. The philanthropic foundation of Lewi Pethrus was forced into bankruptcy in 1997 and the company Nordic Travel Group, later Wenngarn AB with its parent company in Switzerland, took over the castle. The people at National museum were concerned about the government’s art that still could be found at the castle and in the summer of 1998 they paid a visit and confiscated paintings and other art objects. The county council were indignant as they considered that some of the confiscated objects belonged to the fixed decor of Wenngarn and hence part of the building monumental prevention

regulations – things that therefore were not allowed to be altered. The holding company also accused Nationalmuseum of collecting art that the company had been told belonged to the estates when acquired. The National Office then referred to the inventory that existed when the state sold the castle, but still the affair resulted in several trials. The attorney finally declared that the Nationalmuseum had not been acting wrongly apart from the insufficient documentation of the process of decision that led to the confiscating of the art. Today the chapel’s inventory has been appropriated and the brick walls are distinctly bare in Disasalen (Hall of Disa) now the 17th-century paintings have been removed. Hopefully the paintings will one day return to the Hall of Disa, to the walls they once graced. Very few displays for the public have taken place since the latest ownership. But now Wenngarn is again open to the public.



At the end of March the importation of plants began at Wenngarn. Two lorries loaded with boxwood, privet, hornbeam, lime tree, yew and a more than four metre tall ornamental cherry tree which now welcome visitors at the entrance of the estate. Shortly afterwards soil preparation began for the initial plantations.


The soil in the three terraces was dug-up, fertilized and trees and bushes were planted. Shrub, trees and plants have then been allowed develop and grow the last 30 years. The next stage saw an abundance of different sorts of old fashioned white roses, peonies, delphiniums, and other cream-colored plants that make a stark contrast to the backdrop of greenery. Lawns were rolled out onto each terrace. Garden designer Daniel Bell has been influenced by the previous traditions of the garden, but also aspires to add his own vision of a romantic, light and airy terrace-cultivation. A garden that hopefully awakens the urge in visitors to stroll in and discover more of its beauties. The ambition of the project is to create a garden for all tastes. A place to return to and visit several times. That is why the seasonal variations of the plants are of great importance. Down below the terraces you can, since mid-April, see the pollard park. The lime trees have lost their rambunctious appearance and the path down towards the fountain used to still be strewn with brushwood. It has been cleared away and the fountain has been given new life. Cascades of water create a sense of life and movement to the centre of the park. Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie and his architect Jean De la VallÊ took the fountains to Sweden. Sadly, the architect’s project of diverting rain from dams situated from higher levels in the distance, and using 400 hollowed oak logs functioning as channels was never completed.


With the castle behind us we gaze out over Sweden’s first baroque garden that was a hybrid between beauty and practicality already in the 17th-century. A vegetable garden in the making for the new Wenngarn, flanked with two double rows of 300 hop plants. The idea is here to grow berries, apples, pears and all kinds of vegetables in reasonable amounts and accessible plots of land. Partly so that the hotel restaurant can become self-sufficient - partly to attract people, various associations and others to actively partake in the cultivations. The plan is to cover approximately 20 per cent of the area with vegetables. So there is going to be plenty of room for other things, for instance flowers, flax, hops, sunflowers and fields of barley – barley that can then be used as sheaves, after harvesting and reaping, for hungry birds in the wintertime. 48

The area between the vegetable garden and the terrace will make room for meadow-flowers, elderflower, sea buckthorn and apple trees. A natural space that perfectly suits picnics and social gatherings around garden furniture. Slightly to the right of the entrance of the castle a topiary will be created, which is a commonplace sight around castles and manors throughout Europe. A topiary refers to the practice of clipping foliage and twigs of plants so that they look like geometrical shapes, animals or some sort of mythical creature. Here at Wenngarn there will be no eccentric sculptures but finely cut yew. The challenge has been to select plants with colour and vibrancy that bring pleasure and enjoyment to visitors and residents. That spring came early this year was an added bonus, at least initially, but during the first part of May it became cold and part of the gardening had to be put on hold. To create an air of uniqueness to the area a specific group of species is being collected – the first of its kind in Sweden. In short, the intention is to preserve the continuation of this variety of plants, for example: fruits, berries, vegetables and ornamental plants. This practice is common in England, where private gardens and castles open their gates to exhibit their national collections of for example magnolia, rhododendron and snowdrops.


– At Wenngarn the first national collection of ornamental cherry trees is being created, says Daniel Bell. Up to 120 different species are planted in the large area opposite of the main entrance of the hotel. The trees bloom from late spring up to early summer. Truly an incomparably beautiful sight with its shifting palette of delicate pinks and whites. 50

The framing of the large area that faces the road outside the hotel is made from an abundance of perennial plants. It is an 80 metre long shrub-like plantation that sweeps through the landscape, creating the shape of an arc. Here a profusion of red and pink flowers bloom alongside the late blooming lilacs and a countless amount of other plants. The large open space is sown with grasses of different height and now there also is a stage for performances and other public arrangements. At the back of the hotel, facing the conference building, there is now a small garden. Boxwood, magnolia and beech will flourish in the afternoon sun. Two imposing quince trees with delightful flowers and fruits will complete the icing on this horticultural cake. In the lower corner of the little garden there is now also a herbal garden. Heading back to the castle you will encounter the “fire-pond”, a little reservoir used back in the days to put out fires. It lies just in front of the “Dam-Cottage”. It creates an air of tranquillity that has recently taken on a new life in forms of different types of grass, fleur-de-lis and waterlilies. A great amount of thought and planning has gone into the gardens at Wenngarn, providing fragrance, colours and fresh vegetables. It is a mixture of aesthetic delight and palatal pleasure.

Prunus “TaiHaku” is a deciduous and fully blossoming ornamental white cherry tree. The elliptical green leaves can reach 20 cm in length and 8 cm in width. The leaves are initially bronze-coloured and shift into yellow/orange in autumn. The white flowers can become 6 cm in width and blossom at the same time as leaves emerge. It is often times referred to as the “Great White Cherry”. The tree at the entrance of Wenngarn is 4 metres tall and was around 30 years old when it was planted.



January 2014



April 2014



May 2014



June 2014



Not many days till the sneak preview of the Hotel Anstalten. Up to the very last second ground work and drawing of cables went on around the castle area and also fine-tuning in the hotel.




summer of Wenngarn – 1st of june





The sun was shining upon Wenngarn at opening day, 1st of June 2014. We replaced the signs, took off our work clothes and so commenced Wenngarnssommar (summer of Wenngarn). With a little help from leading municipal and civic figures we handed out treasure maps and let visitors stroll around and familiarize themselves with the estates. The 5000 visitors along with cars, balloons and a samba orchestra made for a delightful setting. It was truly an opening worthy of Wenngarn and Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie. To finish off such an intense project with a festival was amazing and we now have great expectations for the future. We ran out of food and beverages, the parking spots as well, but everyone was in a good mood and high spirits. Princess Christina and Lady Magnusson opened the art exhibition for Sigtuna Museum along with councillor Lars Bryntesson. In her opening speech she told of her optimistic and positive expectations from the inspiring, hopeful and exciting exhibition that had summarised the castles historical life in this up-to-date presentation.






The Museum of Sigtuna’s art- and historical exhibition that is shown during Wenngarnssommar (summer of Wenngarn) recounts the 361 years of baroque-era, love, exoticism and periphery from Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie up till present time. The Museum of Sigtuna and Konsthall Märsta presents a journey through the ages, cultural heritage and architectural history. It starts off in 1653 when De la Gardie and princess Maria Eufrosyne took over at Wenngarn together with the head-architect Jean De la Vallée. The latter rebuilt the castle into the baroque-style type that we know today. The journey takes us through different eras of history, different cultural layers, all of which are very distinctly tangible at Wenngarn. The participating artists of the exhibition are Yinka Shonibare, Bo Ahlström, Torsten Jurell, Katja Pettersson, The Raketa Group and August Sörensson. 72


Wenngarn is a delightful place to be, especially in summer time. Wenngarnssommar is a concept, as well as an event, that we have created together with neighbouring organisations where we invite everyone to participate in exciting activities and to acquaint themselves with the wonderful surroundings. The idea is that there should always be things to do at Wenngarn - always a reason to come here, even if only for a stroll in the gardens. Delicious food and drink, fun experimental activities such as out-door cinema at the castle terrace and live music in the restaurant.

In order to grasp all that Wenngarn has to offer you really need to make a visit. When you do come around we are confident that you will find your own personal Wenngarn. We aim at creating a broad range of activities and work that together with the environment will generate a sense of wholeness. Wenngarn will be a place to live, work or just visit for the great food and conference utilities. Through the concept of Wenngarnssommar we have opened a window to the future. The Nature & Culture Foundation of Wenngarn, in co-operation whith Sigtuna Märsta Gymnastikklubb and Arlanda IBK Griffins, hosts an out-door cinema that is shown every Friday and Sunday - and at other suitable events. At the opening the 1st of June we premiered with the classic Travolta film “Grease”. THE YOUTH BRINGS LIFE TO WENNGARN

Wenngarn is an amazing place in itself, but what really creates a living atmosphere to the area is all the visitors – especially all the youngsters. We arrange a community youth centre, festivals for the children, out-door cinemas and spooky ghost-tours in the summertime. We create playgrounds, treasure hunts and plays – through our many child-friendly activities we hope that Wenngarn in the future will become a place where children can enjoy themselves and learn about our common history in an exciting way. We welcome all to Wenngarn, but children are particularly welcome! Foto: Lars Hellquist




Wenngarn - a place for everyone


before and after ... January



























120 000 work hours, countless governmental decisions, four arsons and a lot of new grey hairs. It has been a challenge, at times tiring and stressful. But it has also been incredible fun. There has been an enormous amount of support around the project, hundreds of people with direct involvement and thousands of bystanding supporters – all have they contributed to the end result. Support from these people has been what has helped us through when things have been rough. That, together with the huge joy that all experienced as we closed in on the finish line, produced a great feeling of satisfaction and togetherness. My colleague Peter and I would like to thank all of you who have in some way been a part of this project and we hope that you too have felt involved in the re-shaping of Wenngarn. Wenngarn is a magical site that has brought out the best of all of us. Wenngarn will contribute a lot to the future with its story-telling and reminders of our heritage. Even if Wenngarnssommar and the making of all the 400 dwellings was an exciting project, the 280 days of the Sisyfos project capped it all – being so unique and, also, a once-in-a-lifetime project. We should probably be grateful that it won’t have to be done all over again. THANKS! Olle Larsson


Sisyfos is a company that builds upon an old greek myth. Sisyfos has challenged the great god of all gods – Zeus. To punish him for this act of hubris he is condemned to push and shove a great boulder up a mountain. In order to manage this task he is forced to use every ounce of his strengths. When the boulder has reached the top of the mountain it rolls down the other side and Sisyfos has to start all over again. He has to keep doing this for all eternity. It is a common expression that a task that seems unbearable or unending is a “Sisyfoslabour”. But Sisyfos manages to find a way to make the punishment bearable. He decides that manual labour is the most pleasurable there is, and thus Zeus attempt to punish him becomes a failure. In a work of Camus it is we, mortal human beings, who actually are shoving the boulder. Life has, just as the shoving of a boulder, no true lasting value. We humans have to actively create a sense of value. We can so chose to think that what we do is of value, much in the same way as Sisyfos chose to create meaningfulness in his tedious labour. To be forced to chose and take responsibility for your own life is one of the main features in existentialist philosophy.

The 1st of October 2013 Sisyfos took over Wenngarn. The estates consist of 70 buildings and more than 35 hectares of land that had fallen into a state of neglect during the last decade. The work of re-establishing Wenngarn commenced immediately and in 1st of June 2014, after 280 days and 120 000 work hours, the first stage was completed, Wenngarnssommar 2014 was started with a royal inauguration. This book describes these eight months at Wenngarn, Sisyfos and how it all came to being. www.wenngarn.se


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.