Wenngarn -From vision to implementation

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Wenngarn in our hearts page 4 Financial challenges page 6 Thoughts on the overall view page 8 Thoughts on participation page 16 Thoughts on sustainability page 22 Thoughts on shared resources page 28 Thoughts on meetings and clashes page 34 Thoughts on festive occasions page 40 Thoughts on wellbeing page 44 Thoughts on the importance of history page 50 Picture collage page 70 A few voices page 84 Thanks page 89

Wenngarn – from vision to implementation Text: Olle Larsson, Sisyfos. Annica Ahlberg-Valdna, Sentence Design AB. Translation: Christopher Scott, Gunilla Larsson. Photo: Lasse Hellquist (cover), Anneli Lindh, Care of Lindh. Peter Rudin and archive footage. Form: Taeko Östergren, Grafish. May 2016.




Wenngarn in our hearts


This is the second book about the restoration and development of Wenngarn, a dream project for my staff and me. The 1st of October 2013 Sisyfos Fastighetsförädling AB (property development and restoration) bought a very run-down and neglected Wenngarn with a plan of rebuilding and recreating a modern village society. This work will continue until the 30th June of 2016. We consider it to be of great value if we provide some background information about the history of Wenngarn, about why and how we took on this project. That is the reason for this continuous documentation in words and pictures, in total a series of three books. The first book “Eight months, 120 000 work hours” depicts the planning, the dreams and the initiation of the restoration, the several dramatic incidents involving arson, the threats and challenges on the first steps on this journey. This book starts where the other one ended and tells of when the construction period ends and becomes a commercial business venture, and the village society of Wenngarn comes into being. This is an exciting phase where thoughts, visions and strategies become reality. The core values for this project are refinement, overall view, openness, participation and passion. All of these values are important, but how can we translate them into a real living society? Many questions and many attempts to answers.

The third part will describe how the pieces of puzzle finally fell into place and the great challenge of safeguarding Wenngarn’s future. Thousands have contributed to this project and a hundred or more have had this as their full-time employment during the last year. Each and every one has put their body and soul into their work and shown a great big ‘Wenngarnheart’. It is a wonderful sensation to experience so many people pulling together in the same direction and showing it is possible – a big ‘thanks’ to everyone. Wenngarn has made me re-discover the importance of our history. For more than a thousand years people has been living here, for better or for worse, tragedies and love stories, during everyday life and times of great celebrations. Sweden’s oldest preserved letter from 1164 tells of Wenngarn and during the 1600s Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie transformed Wenngarn into an enchanted site. Three hundred years later Wenngarn was yet again re-moulded, this time into an institute for alcoholics – remaining so until the late 1900s. One of our challenges has been to preserve and recreate what others created, to recount and document the many histories for future generations. It is a great honour as well as a responsibility. Welcome Olle Larsson

During the time when Wenngarn was an alcoholics asylum 97 percent of the patients relapsed and had to be taken in again. Let us hope that we can boast the same figures for visitors returning today!



Financial challenges Initially many questions were raised concerning the viability and profitability of the Wenngarn project. The vision of a living rural society with an open castle, from an economical perspective; how does the financial model look? A big challenge has been to create financial stability both concerning the construction and working conditions and requirements, during the project and for the future to come. 6

When I first visited Wenngarn in 2010 I fell in love with it. I was surprised and astounded that here was this amazing place in the midst of Sweden’s commercial heart that had been allowed to fall into dilapidation. Magical surroundings with a castle and a thousand years of history, a pearl that had been transformed into a shameful blot on the landscape. I could envision my dream project in front of my eyes, and I got obsessed with the thought of finding a way to achieve it even though I lacked the economical resources. I gave a lot of thought on how I could realize my dream and finally came up with a project plan: • Create enough equity/contribute with as much capital of my own. • Develop and visualize a clear and conceivable vision • Negotiate with the seller/owner and come to an acceptable sales agreement. • Persuade banks to help with financing. • Convince the local authorities to invest and provide a detailed plan as quickly as possible. • Sell my vision to neighbors, associations, companies and politicians. • Build an organization that can execute the project.

Quite a lot of these steps were thorough challenges but the biggest was to create a belief that I was the right man with the right organization for the job. Wenngarn was up for sale for many years. Far bigger and more established players had failed to require the right level of trust. Establishing the first contacts with Sigtuna local authorities and the previous owner illuminated the difficulties in evaluating the project. The local authorities valued the project to roughly 50 million Swedish kronor. The owner Randolf Schuntzel mentioned a value of 200 million SEK, whilst I argued that it ought to be set around 400-500 million crowns. I based this upon the fact that if I would have bought the land only and built Wenngarn from the ground it would add up to over a billion crowns. (The Hotel Anstalten alone would cost around 200 million to build). To renovate the whole area was roughly estimated to 400-600 million so the value should be set to 500 million in this case, should it not? Obviously we had different views. When cultural, and social factors are taken into account along with the social benefits – I had made the deal of a lifetime. Nevertheless we needed to present calculations to the bank and plan the project. To estimate the renovation costs for park, surroundings and – most of all – the 70 buildings spread out on the 26 000 square meters was difficult. We decided not even to try – instead we focused upon building an organization that could foresee the costs for each month ahead.

In the garage below Smuttan (a building that has now been renovated and lies behind Hotel Anstalten) there were close to a hundred stolen, crashed and abandoned cars found at the day of admittance. One of those in charge of the garage also sold equipment for growing marijuana (very profitable).

With the organization in situ it came down to prioritizing, to start this and that project in the right order and at the right cost – to quickly come to the stage where we could start selling the houses, semi-detached and co-operative apartments before the financing for the renovating ran out. This background of the project explains why the tempo has been near break-neck speed; we simply had no other options. Sigtuna municipal Council’s amazing work of putting together a detailed zoning plan in just six months and the whole Sisyfosstaff creating the Alley Village was a necessity in order to succeed. We had less than a year to prove to people that Wenngarn is the perfect place to live in and work at. It is a precarious balance act between triumph and failure. If the zoning plan had been overruled it is probable that we would have gone under economically. The newly built and renovated houses were sold late autumn of 2014 and the many pieces of the project started to fall in place. We had reached the summit of this upward climb – an enormous satisfaction and relief. Simultaneously, this opened up for new possibilities when we met with positive and inspiring people. Wenngarn, as a place to live, create and meet people, makes a difference and so we decided to set even higher goals. We conceived new project plans; we created even larger conference buildings, a bakery, a brewery and we tripled the amount of hotel rooms. We revised the plans for a business center and the retirement home and raised our ambitions.


To me Wenngarn is such a historically important and unique place that I would be ashamed if we did not do all in our power to fulfill its potential. Is it fun? – yes. Are there any risks? – yes. Is it the smart thing to do? – no. To summarize: Difficult is fun, easy is boring. Olle Larsson FINANCIAL CHALLENGES

After the First World War the treatment of alcoholics was resumed. Back then Alkoholistlagen (Alcoholics Law) still applied and accordingly patients could be taken in by force on initiative of the temperance committee. When the patients first arrived they were taken to one of the arrival wards. Those particularly violent ended up in one of the cells in the basement. The patients were often in very bad shape and the detoxing was both dramatic and painful.



Thoughts on the overall view To create a coherent picture of all the parts of the Wenngarn project is quite a challenge. We want to offer a wide and open community that welcomes everyone. But as the focus group “everyone” is difficult to reach we try to create a broad spectrum of environments, services, business opportunities and activities that will appeal to different groups. A bit vague and difficult to put into practice? Yes, but also an enjoyable challenge, and exciting! Changes in the job market, the new service-based society, population groups with markedly increased life expectancy, increased immigration and also an enormous technical development within the information society results in changes in our ways of living and socializing. When society develops the requirements regarding information, services and communication are changed. Is our society adjusted for today’s needs and what are tomorrow’s demands

in the areas of housing, living and working? How do we go about creating a society that can handle not only today’s but also tomorrow’s needs? It is a challenge to build an infrastructure, property market and business opportunities that can offer the solutions that are demanded as society is progressing. Everyone in our community is welcome to Wenngarn. There are neglected groups with enormous potential that can contribute: unemployed, immigrants, young people, healthy senior citizens and the physically and/or mentally impaired. Can we form the venue Wenngarn so that everyone fits in and can contribute to a positive social development? A dream would be to have many different types of people finding their place, their own satisfactory lifestyle and their sense of security at Wenngarn as playing important parts in this village society. Olle Larsson



Everything at Wenngarn contributes to the entirety – The diversity of people that have moved in to spend their lives at Wenngarn in the different forms of housing creates life and movement. They contribute to making Wenngarn come to life, not just during special events but also during ordinary everyday life.


– The mixture of people of different ages, experience and knowledge adds life and motion; at the same time it presents a challenge with the different ideas and suggestions that can contribute to the whole. We like to see that the different businesses work in ways that contribute to their mutual advantage, not that they compete with each other. So says Emelie Åstrand who works with communication and information at Wenngarn. Business owners and entrepreneurs who have chosen us as their business-site are an important group contributing to the ideal of a living village society. When new residents move in they will, bit by bit, contribute with their ideas and suggestions of what can be done and experienced at Wenngarn. – Wenngarn is so large that even if we had five, six activities running at the same time a person could still experience the area as being quite uninhabited. With even more residents and business owners Wenngarn will not be depopulated at evening – and nighttime – which is positive. Here at Wenngarn, we want to encourage everyone in society to find outlets for their energy and creativity through projects and events. There is a mixture of operative services

and support to create opportunities for new participants. We want to see each and every piece of this puzzle contributing to the whole. Through our networks, neighbors, politicians, county council and other interested parties we reach more people who, in turn, open up new doors. – The many premises and areas of land surrounding Wenngarn are suitable for a variety of activities. We have the possibilities and with continued participation from those involved in our project we can continue to develop. Overall view and identity

The diversity and structure within a living village society is intimately connected with the areas of restored and refined buildings and the opportunities they present. – Now that we have been doing this for a while we start to see how the refinement of the buildings is providing the conditions for a living village society. Different people see different opportunities and we try to find the new ideas and get the different participants to take the next step into making Wenngarn their own. It is exciting to see that the more people that live here and see Wenngarn as their home – the more vital the area becomes. People come here for different reasons – meetings, work, training, recreation, history, activities for children, gardening among other things.


It has been a challenge to inform the public of what is currently happening at Wenngarn, says Emelie Åstrand. We have received lots of help from all of those who have contributed and helped us spread the information about Wenngarn. It is a wonderful feeling to meet the new residents who show their gratitude and proudly present the development of the area to family and friends. – When Wenngarn opened in first of June 2014 we employees were quite new and inexperienced. Wenngarn was new and we wanted to invite everyone as quickly as possible, and show them the opportunities. It is difficult to communicate with “everyone” so we therefore tried to create a variety of activities aimed at a variety of target groups. In addition, we also arranged to involve as many organizations and associations as possible, a rewarding work that

creates a sense of wanting to do more. With so many different target groups and visitors our message and information became somewhat unclear, but we strive to be as accurate as possible with our information. – I think it is important not to forget that we can only remain credible and relevant if our guests are interested in our various needs of opportunities, says Emelie Åstrand. We think a lot about what it is that attracts people to come here and we want to take unexpected turns - at the same time as we keep things simple and provide a rewarding new experience. One good example is outdoor cinema. That is my personal favourite because there were no cinemas in Sigtuna at the time, so why not have one in the castle gardens? A good example of something unexpected that fills a need and creates life in a historical milieu.


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1. Ängsbacken, homes renovated into flats. 2. Anstaltshöjden, renovated into accommodation for the younger generations. 3. Conference premises and in the ground floor a more basic accommodation, so called cabin accommodation each equipped with their own kitchens. 4. Hotel and restaurant in Anstalten (The Institution). 5. The Annex, made with a new building technique using Styrofoam. 6. Hantverkshuset (House of Craftsmanship), rebuilt part of the hotel with several rooms and a separate kitchen. 7. The former preschool now offers rented living quarters. 8. The water tower is intact since the 1950s and still in use. 9. Bollhallen (the gymnasium), is a community room available for hire for birthday parties et cetera. 10. Next to Bollhallen there is a playground with equipment donated by Sigtuna parish. 11. The barn and the wagon shed will be rebuilt into a retirement home in 2016. 12. The Sports Center, Business Center and kindergarten. 13. Kulturstallet (Culture Stable) with brewery, bakery, apple distillery and a barn used as an event hall with capacity for 500 people. 14. The rebuilt Dammstugan (Pond Cottage), were pizzas are baked in a wood burning stove. Outside a beautiful patio with view overlooking the pond. 15. Allébyn (The Alley Village) with the older yellow houses that were renovated and more than 40 newly built houses in Ängsbyn (The Meadow Village). 16. Skogsbrynsvillorna (The Forest Edge Houses), eight houses on the Anstaltshöjden (The Institutional Hill) and another four between Allébyn and the Pavilion. These are single-family homes of roughly 250 square meters. 17. The Pavilion, renovated condominiums with twelve apartments. 18. The Orangery, a unique meeting ground for festivities and conferences and an important focal point for the gardens, the park and Wenngarn’s efforts in sustainability. 19. The castle, a unique meeting ground with a history dating back to the 1100s it is today the heart of Wenngarn for residents, visitors and those who work here. 20. Sweden’s first baroque garden with allotments, organically grown berries and vegetables and also hop-cultivation. A cultivated zone with flowers and organic vegetables. 21. In the English park there is a pets zoo with horses and sheep. 22. In the old depository a non-profit association runs a flea market. (Second hand market) 23. Today (2015) three buildings are still empty and unused: the Pigsty, the Office and the Schnapps Cottage.



De la Gardie’s building of the fountain that was to be placed in the center of Sweden’s first baroque garden leaves few unmoved. The very idea of it is crazy in its own right – to think that they actually tried constructing it. In order to create it they had to build a couple of dams complete with floodgates up on the ridge. A self-pressurized system was created with the aid of 400 oak logs that had been hollowed out into water pipes. All this was prepared just so that one could have the pleasure


of ten minutes of water display during the morning stroll. Utterly crazy but incredibly fun. In 2014 the fountain was to be cleaned out and we turned on the pump to empty some of the water to make working on it easier. (We say we so that no one is mentioned and no one is forgotten). We finished for the day and upon arriving the next morning there were a couple of carps flopping about in the few puddles of water on the ground. Apparently we had forgotten to turn off the pump the night before. The carps survived and the dam was cleaned up!

During the First World War many were drafted to military service and Wenngarn transformed into an institute for unruly boys for a couple of years. But after the war alcoholism rose in society and with it the need for an alcoholic’s institution. The institution and its treatment has made a great impact upon Swedish historical records of this social problem. First the boys were here, then all the patients that were labeled gubbar (“old lags”) regardless of age.

For many years there was a football team at Wenngarn, Venngarn IF, where inmates and members of the staff played. The success of Venngarns IF varied through the years, mainly depending on the form of the old lags. At times there would be up to three or four players from the Swedish national team that were in need of treatment, naturally this led to great success for Venngarns IF.


There are many apple trees at Wenngarn and almost as many different varieties of apples. What is not commonly known is that there is at least one apple tree of a secret sort! These apples have soon traveled all around Sweden among different apple experts and experts have also been here at Wenngarn. No one has as yet been able to decide what variety it is. The apple is quite big, beautifully formed and has a delightful taste that reminds one of Champagne. Perhaps there will soon be a “Wenngarn’s Champagne apple”?



Thoughts on participation My dream is that Wenngarn can be a good example as well as a trial model for projects that make use of the resources at hand in a responsible way, not only for financial gain, and to take on challenges not problems. Wenngarn can contribute to a positive social development. We don’t have all the answers to how to make this come true but we need to ask questions and listen to all those in the neighbourhood community. How can Wenngarn transform Sigtuna into a better place to live in? The whole idea of entrepreneurship is to contribute to society through problem solving and meeting its needs and thereby creating business opportunities. To start off at the other end, with how I am going to earn money, is in my view pointless. Participation is one of Wenngarn’s core values and a requirement for a positive development. The amount of energy, creativity, help and support we have received has surpassed all expectations.

We want to find ways to involve our community and create a better society with a greater sense of togetherness. There is knowledge, energy, commitment, experience and skills in our surroundings that we can make use of if we just dare to ask. The power and creativity that exists in society is an enormous untapped resource. An important future task is to create new forms and models to involve and generate a sense of participation and unity and also to take advantage of ordinary people with different levels of experience, competence and interests. By systematically involving the community in this development discovering needs and opportunities, a dynamic is created that prevents Wenngarn from stagnating. Olle Larsson



Participation creates the future Wenngarn


400 unique suggestions and ideas from committed, inquisitive and interested people in and around Sigtuna. This was the amazing result when we invited groups from our network, local authorities, neighbours, politicians and associations to participate in the discussion regarding the development of Wenngarn.

During the year a continuous work is taking place to establish contacts that create a sense of community and stimulates new ideas and suggestions. Once a year in November there is a big event where all the different groups involved are invited to come forward with ideas and suggestions of how Wenngarn should be developed. – “what can you do at a castle?” was our main question at the first annual event, back in 2013. 700 people participated with suggestions regarding wine tasting, treasure hunts and ghost tours, apart from weddings and parties of course. Annika Östervall, who works with the integration of ideas in the annual calendar at Wenngarn, talks about the work. The coming year’s question was “what is needed to create a living village society?”. It resulted in over 400 ideas, an invaluable well of information. The challenge is not a lack of creativity, suggestions or ideas but to find the time to sort them out and get them done.

The suggestions concerned both individuals wanting to do something at the area itself, and ideas concerning things that can result in more long-term and sustainable solutions. These often need to be planned for and carried out on a more long-term basis. – Many of our original plans have been altered and many new ones have been added, says Annika. – Wenngarn is a venue where it is possible to use the different facilities or garden areas for activities that attracts both residents and visitors. The summer theater in 2015 is an example where a theatre group acts outdoors in the ruins of what used to be a stable. They take care of everything themselves, invitations etc. while Wenngarn contributes with the rest that is needed like parking, electricity and water. That the community has committed itself to the development of Wenngarn is a fine example of how a village society is taking shape and has been developed into a model for how to make use of knowledge and ideas from the community. The model is based upon a Wenngarn Wheel where we divide up our community from the viewpoint of perspective and interests. When a new idea, suggestion or product

During the dramatic fires in 2013 the stone barn along with its wagon shed burned to the ground. The boat that lay next to the buildings melted and all that remained was a puddle of plastic and its gunnel. This was the second time the barn was on fire (the first time being back in 1938).

appears we can utilize the Wenngarn Wheel to analyze reactions from different points of view. Residents, children, employers, business owners and politicians can provide their own comments and impressions. The model has already been applied for the development of the kindergarten, the gardens, the allotments, the orangery, transfer busses, Kulturstallet (the Culture Stable), the business center, Sports Center and the yet-to-be senior home. By systematically involving the community we are able to meet and plan for its requirements. The goal is that Wenngarn should be a textbook example of a test environment for ideas of how communities can be developed.


– We have worked our way up from when Wenngarn was a disgrace to the community and today we can see a positive development. It is an exciting journey that has just begun. The amazing people that I meet share their fascinating and stimulating ideas. It creates energy and fulfills a need. I have a very exciting job, says Annika Östervall. There are many parts of Wenngarn that are completely based upon commitment and suggestions from our community, for instance: the outdoor gym, the kindergarten, the brewery, the apple distillery and the bakery. This has created a sense of participation and perhaps, foremost, a sense of pride: Together we can do it! THOUGHTS ON PARTICIPATION

The Wenngarn model Ideas are realized through a process model.

A distinct method is used in the development of Wenngarn, built upon commitment from our networks. The Wenngarn model is a way of working, a process of thought that is used for developing businesses, social surroundings and activities.

Step by step the ideas are processed through Wenngarn’s vision of social and business ethics. Project plans are brought forward, the networks participate in accordance with the Wenngarn Wheel, which in turn creates a sense of participation and relations. Some ideas become reality within a short period of time; others demand more detailed project plans and long term commitment. The economical conditions, resources and capacity has to be taken into consideration as well as the immediate and long term needs.

The process begins with all the hundreds of ideas and suggestions that are created by the networks, interest groups, residents, associations et cetera.

We need to look at:

Yesterday’s needs

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Ideas Cre a






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W e E xperienced













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Tomorrow’s needs







Today’s needs

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Undemanding and gratifying!



The network wheel The network wheel creates relations.

The actual work that is run by the networks stem from the needs of various time perspectives at Wenngarn. Distinctive key words and directives give the wheel the

necessary guidance to how the process of creating commitment and relations should function. The whole idea is to ensure an atmosphere of relaxed, stimulating and enjoyable camaraderie.




Completed event. Alt: If it recurs – another turn in the wheel.


Needs in Wenngarn are based upon: • Value grounds • Vision/mission • Destination funnel

Communication according to the network wheel with focus upon relevant participating networks.


Invite the networks according to the network wheel and create relationships with concern to capacity

Project plan updated Carry out alternative launch event.

Create draft for project plan

Find possibilities/ challenges from feedback received from the networks


• Product/Project • Packaging/Concept • Storytelling – in what way have the networks been helpful?




Thoughts on sustainability In the park there is a history and future that reminds us of life. The park provides inspiration, the staple ingredients for food and drink and also tranquility. It does require a great deal of care and attention but we are more than amply rewarded. It soothes us in our otherwise hectic everyday life, reminds us of earth’s bounty, the circle of life and the change of seasons. An important long-term counter-balance to the ever-increasing tempo and technical development in this information society. We have chosen to use the park as a symbol and the Orangery as a building, which also enhances the gardens, the environments, and gives a sense of permanence and quality of life to the exhibitions, stories and decorative features. The history of Wenngarn goes back at least a thousand years, and will continue for at least another thousand years to come. That our own era seems short within that vast perspective of time does not mean that it is any the less important. How can we here at Wenngarn create conditions and a future for people and environment? Waste disposal, organically

grown food and taking consideration to our climate are all important projects, but here at Wenngarn there are also other challenges. We often talk about recycling and forget that our ancestors were the true masters of recycling. When society changed and castles, manors and crofts were rebuilt, each and every piece of timber and brick was recycled and moved to the next building project. Every little object or utensil that could be of use was saved and treasured throughout the generations. Can we not find a system that prevents us from destroying and discarding all that which can be used and recycled? This is one of many ways to create an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable society. At the same time we preserve cultural milieus, artifacts and strengthen the historical connection to our cultural heritage. Olle Larsson

There is said to have been a man from Norrköping who was especially interested in the castle’s gardens. Each year he got epically drunk, made a few minor disturbances and then he walked into the police station in Norrköping and told them he needed treatment at Wenngarn. In this way he came to the Alcoholics asylum in time for the spring planting in the park. When autumn came knocking at the door he was again released.



Healthy gardens follow the change of seasons


A living garden undergoes a metamorphosis in accordance to the change of seasons. It is an important requirement to induce visitors to return to Wenngarn. The glorious colours, exuberant growth, farming and harvest time adds up to a living environment. Without the gardens ever-changing life, with its colors and shapes, any interest in returning to Wenngarn would diminish.

Daniel Bell is a landscape architect and horticulturist. His inspiration comes from Britain and also other historical documents; thereafter he has followed the promptings of his heart. – What would you call a wedding at a castle without a welcome toast at the terraces, asks Daniel Bell. Or a sunny day with the scent of hops and flowers from the fields and the buzzing of the industrious bees? He has been involved since the start in 2013 and began work by planning the gardens at Wenngarn, studying the baroque park and the history of the gardens. This work took several months. Together with Olle Larsson he travelled around the country to look at plants and to plan for what would work from a purely horticultural pointof-view as well as a practical one. Some specific projects worth mentioning are the hundreds of cherry trees and the cultivations of vegetables and fruit that are used for the restaurant and the pizzeria.

During 2015 there were no geraniums planted in the large flower boxes outside Dammstugan (the Pond Cottage) and the other buildings. Instead beans, onions, parsley and other edible vegetables were planted there. The outdoor pots need not to be filled with solely seasonal summer flowers, says Daniel Bell. The park consists of many elements that are of great meaning for our lives – history and future. And one thing is for certain: the garden and the park will survive us all. Gardens need constant care like watering, tending, cutting and re-planting. The maintenance is quite costly, but without a living garden the visitors would loose interest. The garden provides an indirect income through its uniqueness with flowerbeds and land cultivation that attracts visitors to come, not only once, but several times. The old greenhouse and orangery are central for the park. They have been renovated and serve both their old purposes with gardening along with being a community meeting-point with a lounge area and a fully equipped kitchen. In the lounge there are magazines and information about future challenges for us and our society from a viability perspective. In one of the rooms the walls have been draped with living green plants, a so-called “living wall”. On the roof there are solar panels that provides enough energy for a Tesla to run

During institutional times the personnel at Wenngarn got to order a couple of rows for growing potatoes at the orangery. The gardener planted the potatoes and the family reaped the benefits. Here also used to be a smaller market garden where personnel could buy fresh produce, vegetables, berries et cetera.

2000 swedish miles a year. A place to be inspired by and to enjoy together, during festivities or conferences. Daniel mentions how highly he values his co-workers most of whom have had no previous experience of gardening. For instance when 300 poles for the long rows of hops where to be placed in two perfectly straight lines, two of the co-workers drilled the holes during a couple of days when the summer heat was at its peak.


– We who run this project cannot enough praise those our workmates, summer workers and volunteers for all the effort they put into this, in the quiet, to create the park and the garden. We couldn’t have made it without them, says Daniel.



One decadent and snobbish hobby amongst magnates during the 1600s was to collect oriental and continental plants that really were not suited to grow in the cold Swedish climate. The problem was solved by using orangeries and even if our orangery was built in the 1930s there actually used to exist one as early as the 1600s.

Here is what used to be artist Bo Alström’s studio for over a decade. It was outside the Orangery that he met the ghost of Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie one night. Bo Alström then asked him “What are you up to?” and De la Gardie replied: “I am not yet done”.



Thoughts on shared resources 28

The castle and park are the heart and soul of our community, the village manor, so to speak - the shared resource being the village castle. The castle is both a meeting place and symbol for the history and future. A historical cottage community that is the center of the village society. These shared resources are defined by the Harvard professor Michael Porter as “shared value”. It may sound a little academic but is based upon our ancestors’ utilization of resources. The main thing is to create meaningful economical and social values by taking advantage of the connection between the companies’ ability to compete successfully and the requirements from the developing society. Some people also talk about returning to the old days village society where we value different resources, products and favours and where we work with these elements without always dealing in money. The new set of values we created when we opened the castle for 100 000 visitors during the first year (2014) is huge. The value of having a castle and a park for guests, meetings or recreation is shared by everyone who visits, lives or works at Wenngarn and becomes greater the more it is taken advantage of. This asset allows for higher prices on facilities and products

that can be used to finance administration and develop the shared resources. The trend in society towards increased use of resources is positive. We go on vacations in other people’s homes, use car-pooling and share many recreational activities. It is exciting when comparing consumption and growth with the resources that are available. Is it necessary to have three cars, three boats and several houses? Why do we collect things that we do not need? To share these resources and to increase our ability to take advantage of them, also constitutes an important sustainability issue. We search for inspiration and solutions to create shared resources that are shaped so that they become available for everybody. The village castle Wenngarn. Sweden’s most open, accessible castle is just one example. When we build the senior home, houses and facilities we let the castle be their dining room and meeting place rather than break it up into many isolated meeting points. This saves energy and resources and creates exciting meetings. Olle Larsson

Apart from the many accounts of encounters with Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie in the garden, there are also lots of hollow trees in the alley, perfect hiding spots for hide and seek, but also used for hiding liquor by the old lags during the times of the institution.



The castle – the mutual heart of Wenngarn One of Wenngarn’s core values is its openness. It means not only that the castle and the gardens are open and free, but that the castle and the park are the heart of this society, the shared resources that are there for everyone.


– Wenngarn is unique, both for the residents, those who visit us and also for those who work here, says Åke Gilck. – The cooperation with Sigtuna municipal council is important. It has been a condition in order to be able to develop Wenngarn from the start into what it is now becoming. Olle has spent a lot of time in anchoring the vision of the open castle as the heart of society and around which events take place here at Wenngarn. It was crucial to have everyone onboard when we created the shared values at Wenngarn, says Åke Gilck. Åke has together with his wife Eva developed the concept around the hotel, restaurants and contributes in developing the housing projects and other activities at Wenngarn. Åke has a great deal of experience in construction and renovation and has together with Eva run a guesthouse with restaurant in Kivik, Österlen. – We were onboard early on in the planning of Wenngarn and envisioned ourselves running a hotel holding around 40 suites with an adjoining restaurant. During this year the bar has been raised and conditions altered and many new

thoughts and ideas have been added according to the needs of our guests and visitors. As everything takes place at a breakneck speed it is important to be full of ideas though not letting feelings concerning one’s prestige interfere. To constantly search for new ways to develop ideas and plans for Wenngarn and to constantly improve the way in which we utilize the area and its resources has been the greatest challenge - to connect the castle with activities and new functions without loosing the feeling of familiarity. A business center was in our minds early on, but the vision that Olle had has been altered and refined during this last year. Why does one need a permanent office space? Will it be possible to rent by the hour? At Wenngarn’s Business Center you can rent a basic package for a certain desired amount of time. As an extra you can buy additional things you require, like ordering off a menu. Breakfast delivered each morning, conference space in the castle or the possibility to train at the sports center a couple of days each week to mention just a few examples. The senior home is another example where the utilizing of resources has been our greatest focus. There will be two buildings, one in the middle of the area where the stable used to be and one where the old wagon quarters used to be.


– It is going to add a lot to Wenngarn, says Åke Gilck. Senior citizens contribute with life-experience and wisdom. Quite possibly they have needs that in a longer term can help to develop the different businesses and activities even further. We envision meetings between old and young - down to the children at the kindergarten and I think that will result in an even further demand on our activities. The development at Wenngarn cannot be allowed to slow down when we are finished with the construction part. The work continues with finding connections that help to knit the whole together. – The guests, residents and staff appreciate the environment at Wenngarn, but we must not forget to take care of each other, to help showcase this environment and create a sense of security and wellbeing for people. THOUGHTS ON SHARED RESOURCES

During all ages constructors have left behind newspapers, books and other time-fragments within walls when renovating. The same tradition has been kept alive at Wenngarn. It is no coincidence that the floors are yellow, red and blue – the same colours as one of the constructor’s favorite sports teams. A constant discussion is continued as Smuttan, the building next to the hotel, is yellow and black – the colours of another favorite team amongst the constructors.


Many perhaps remember the large wooden sign next to the road: “Karelia – party suite and sauna”. There was a rumour circulating that it was also a brothel. Some witnessed late nights with cars unloading young women and old men entering the premise. If you have been inside the building, seen the Jacuzzi, the catwalk complete with strip-tease pole, the many small bedrooms and the different saunas it is easy to put two and two together. The saunas are today used for the outdoor-relaxation area.


During the institutional times Bollhallen (the Gymnasium) was used mostly for movie nights for the inmates, staff and families. There were also other forms of entertainment: Cornelis Wreijsvik, famous Swedish troubadour, performed for the inmates at one time and the children put on plays. The films shown were not allowed to contain too much violence or drinking because it was thought to lead to relapse. It was supposedly quite difficult to find entertaining films since this was back in the heyday of pilsnerfilms (“beermovies” – an old Swedish movie genre).



Thoughts on meetings and clashes Clashes are inevitable when different cultures, ages, functions and categories converge and meet. There are bad clashes, such as when two cars collide at high speed, or a group of samba musicians perform in a quiet library. We like to think of positive clashes, the many exciting meetings that challenge us. The clashes that question our preconceived notions and conventions and creates new exciting meetings, lasting impressions, positive friction and energy. They broaden our minds, break down prejudice and help to develop society. In Sweden it becomes more and more commonplace to travel the world, clashing in a somewhat gentler manner. We travel to experience new cuisine, fragrances, people and experiences that cannot be found at home. These adventures inspire and provide long-lasting impressions. But maybe the challenges are closer than we think. To broaden horizons, find fresh perspectives and to get out of our comfort zone is important, and not only in times of vacation.

One of the goals for Wenngarn is to provide a long-lasting positive impression. We want to benefit from the clashes between activities, businesses and people, between old and new, between work and leisure time, between children and elders. The clashes can be experienced as upsetting and disruptive but they give us new thoughts and ideas. Meetings and clashes provides energy and develop and stimulate ourselves, especially in the encounters we do not understand. I sometimes feel a strange energy at the castle, a sensation that inspires and motivates. At the same time as I can feel cynical and skeptical I can become markedly affected in a positive way. The ghost hunters have been able to detect the presence of a couple of ghosts here and even though I am a skeptic you can at least confirm that the contact with history and all the human fates at Wenngarn provides understanding, energy and inspiration. Olle Larsson



Meetings at Wenngarn creates energy Wenngarn is a big and open community where everyone is welcome, whether as visitors, on business or just as residents. The vision is to offer a wide variety of environments, services, business opportunities and activities that attract everyone regardless of age, background or interests.


– Our challenge is to join together the different activities, events and possibilities at Wenngarn so that we can utilize the buildings, facilities and the surrounding environment to a maximum. Those who live here should feel like Wenngarn is their own living room and those who visit and work here are met by a welcoming environment that varies with the seasons of the year. The truly unique thing with it all is that it is open for everyone. Anna Lakmaker is in charge of the castle and Destination Wenngarn, which among other things involves developing Wenngarn as a place to visit. The free access to the castle is that which attracts our customers. She talks of how those who work here often remind each other of the importance to see the whole picture and not to get distracted by isolated issues. When meeting different cultures, age groups, functions and categories clashes will occur. The clashes taking place here at Wenngarn involve exciting meetings that often result in unforgettable experiences or create new challenges. Take for instance guests at a wedding who are toasting the happy newlyweds in the park outside the castle at the same time

According to the ghost-busting organization SPOOK they could establish after a three day long scientific investigation that there are at least three ghosts inhabiting the castle. At one particularly dramatic occasion you could clearly hear the word “help” being uttered in a hoarse voice in a recording from the basement of the castle.

as a medieval jousting tournament is taking place just a stones throw away. Or when five hundred six-year olds visited the castle without bothering the three conference groups residing in the castle. And just imagine how the people during the 1600s would have reacted had they known that there is an outdoor cinema with LED-screen in the middle of their baroque garden! – Wenngarn is so large that there are always activities going on simultaneously, says Anna Lakmaker. These types of clashes creates energy. In the larger perspective the 1100s and also the baroque 1600s clash enormously with the 1900s when Wenngarn used to be an institute for alcoholics. It forms a jumble of clashes that we want to harness and amplify.

Wenngarn is created not only by meetings and confrontations between human beings. There is one further dimension, perhaps it is the ghosts that at time appear in the shape of the old count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie in the gardens, or the ghostly spectre dressed in black that several people have encountered… Others, more finely tuned clashes are when waitresses experience ghostly activities. In the large banquet hall at the top floor of the castle, the Hall of Disa, they prepare for dinners and parties by setting tables, white linen cloth and cutlery in perfectly ordered symmetry. But when the waitresses go to do the final check - knives and forks have always been moved around.

Another example of a clash is when the club for Swedish Volvo PV came here and parked their cars outside the Kulturstallet (Culture Stable) at the same time as there was a big event going on in the stable. During a break people from the event came out for some fresh air and to their surprise were met by an astonishing array of 50s and 60s automobiles. It is not easy to have the place for your own at Wenngarn, it is an open place where there is constant activity and people in constant motion. Meetings and clashes are enriching and lead to thought and reflection. Especially remarkable are perhaps the meetings that we cannot really grasp and explain. The energy at THOUGHTS ON MEETINGS AND CL ASHES


Various meeting grounds at Wenngarn

The gardens

Restaurant of the Hotel Anstalten


The chapel

The orangery

Dammstugan (Pond Cottage)

Conference room

The barn up in the Kulturstallet (the Culture Stable)

Hall of Disa

The park


The brewery

The avenue

Bollhallen (the old gymnasium)

The castle



Thoughts on festive occasions The chapel within the castle is one of the best-preserved baroque interiors in northern Europe. It provides an example of delightfully skilled craftsmanship and Magnus Gabriel De la Gardies deep Christian convictions. 40

To us the chapel symbolizes weddings, faith, hope and love. The entire castle comes to life each time someone gets married at Wenngarn. A wedding at Wenngarn also involves using the whole estate in a wonderful way. The guests and their company stay at Hotel Anstalten, the welcome-drink is served by the fountain, dinner is served in Disasalen (the big banquet hall), their photos are taken in the blossoming apple orchards, the wedding toast is carried out at the terraces and the dancing during the night seem to make Bollhallens (the gymnasium) roof lift. There are many facilities for meetings at Wenngarn and the most important type of meetings are the festive ones. Throughout the centuries there have been countless festivities, and stories from the 17th centuries tell us of week-long celebrations, grand bonfires, fireworks and other spectacles. Music, dancing, parties and the joy that comes with it are all important elements in a functioning society. There are many reasons to celebrate. Olle Larsson



Weddings and other festivities at Wenngarn


The most captivating element of the chapel at Wenngarn is the 45 angel heads, all of them sculpted with individual facial expressions that together create the very special atmosphere. What impressions does one have on experiencing them? Their facial expressions are all individual; they show sorrow, happiness, contemplation, cunning and perhaps also beauty?

Together with the other ornaments the angels create an overwhelming impression of the petite chapel. The chapel holds over 100 churchgoers and is regarded to be one of the best-preserved baroque interiors in the whole of northern Europe. Imagine that Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie and his wife sat up on the Counts Gallery along the northern part of the chapel. From this gallery there is an entrance from the hall of the first floor, which the count and countess had within convenient distance from their quarters. The counts gallery is adorned with their crests, De la Gardie’s and Pfalz’s. History is baffling; people have inhabited these parts for more than 300 years. Why did they attend the chapel – to listen to the words of God or because it was an obligation for the nobility? With a little help of imagination we can create our own stories. The little chapel comes to life and dreams are set in motion. The entirety of the paintings and sculptural ornaments create an overwhelming impression.

– Weddings constitute a good example of how all of the activities come together. We arrange and plan from an overall solution. Bread is baked in the bakery, dinner is laid in Disasalen, guests’ toast at the terrace outside the castle and after the dinner the big party is held at the Bollhallen. Wedding guests, conference guests and others can take advantage of pretty much each and every one of the facilities for different activities, says Eva Gilck who is responsible for the restaurant at the hotel, the conferences and planning of events at Wenngarn. The work environment for the staff at Wenngarn is crucial, says Eva. The staff does their utmost to meet the demands of the guests. If they give a little of themselves and also provide a little tidbit of history we believe that contributes to shaping Wenngarn into an attractive destination. Despite the fact that the facilities are grand and imposing, we try to create a sense of familiarity. The goal is that everyone who works here, lives here or just visit us should be seen and heard. The Kulturstallet is a facility with a variety of different utilization possibilities. Within Kulturstallet there is a bakery that provides bread and pastries for the restaurant, the pizzeria and the café. From the castle garden you can pick hops that is later used for the brewery which is also located within Kulturstallet and where you can brew your own

Each of the 45 angels heads within the chapel have been portrayed with individual facial expressions.

beer and guests can pick apples and have them made into apple must. Today Kulturstallet holds more than 400 guests up in the old hayloft. – When we heard from people that there was demand for a big facility that could be used for meetings, parties, conferences and events we realized that the old stable with its voluminous loft space of 1 400 square meters could be used. We changed our plans and Kulturstallet was renovated to fill the needs for big meetings and festivities.


The orangery is planned to function as an exclusive facility for festive occasions and meetings. The greenhouse has been rebuilt into a blossoming meeting room surrounded by herbs and flowers. We also work on giving our products a personal touch by naming them after the buildings and their history so that the products get connected to Wenngarn. For instance we serve “anstaltsmiddag” (institutional dinner) in the hotel restaurant and brew castle beer in the brewery. An added dimension to what Wenngarn has to offer is to connect and re-create its history. In the midst of hectic everyday life we must not forget to be happy, celebrate and enjoy ourselves, concludes Eva.


The big barn – currently a Sports Center – was built back in 1939 and kept animals up until 1960 when machines took over the farming and one was forced to find other daily chores for the alcoholics. This resulted in the barn being rebuilt into a concrete factory that produced and assembled concrete parts for the miljonprogrammet (stately funded program that created cheap functional apartment blocks). A woman ran all the machines and during one period all of the profits were embezzled by the foreman.



Thoughts on wellbeing Wenngarn is a magical place to experience, whether you are just visiting, work here or reside here. We want to create a sense of security and take care of each other but we must not forget to take care of ourselves, with regard to our own wellbeing and health. To find the balance in life is a challenge even here at Wenngarn. We want to make it easy to exercise and become more knowledgeable about ourselves regarding our bodies and mental state. To improve knowledge and access to good health we have invited new business partners. There are many exciting people who have devoted their lives to finding different paths leading to wellbeing. We want to create an as wide as possible selection at Wenngarn, a smorgasbord of options.

An exciting example is prescription-based training: that patients get a training schedule instead of medicine. To increase knowledge and awareness of what we eat and of organic food, those are other areas that we try to develop. Family training is in big demand and the cooperation between the business section and the sports center are other areas we want to develop. The motivation to take care of yourself is up to each and everyone, but here at Wenngarn we want to show what opportunities are available and contribute with that added motivation and inspiration that makes it easier and more fun to prioritize our health. Olle Larsson



Health and balance in harmony Wenngarn’s sports center focuses on finding the balance between working-out, feeling good, living and working. To work out is important today but to offer top quality is equally important. It should be easy to train and achieve better knowledge of your body and mind. 46

The sports center differs from other gyms above all in the way it is located in the surrounding picturesque environment. When the farming came to an end in the 60s a new business activity began in the old barn that had been emptied of animals. The building was re-made into a concrete factory where the foundation for the new type of functionalistic construction was produced. There are no traces today of either cement mixers or the dusty unhealthy environment, but the history is still preserved and lives on. Three new floors were added to the old industrial facilities. They are built upon supporting steel pillars and roof-beams that have been welded from the floor up through the entire building. The upper floor stretches along the whole length of the building and underneath the top corners of the roof a fully equipped and modern gym is fitted. But it is not the equipment alone that sets Wenngarn’s sport center apart from other gyms. From the spacious gabled window in the north you can catch a glimpse of Garnsviken, a part of Mälaren famously abounding in fish, and from the opposite side there is a direct view of the castle.

To the right next to the castle the now rebuilt Dammstugan (Pond Cottage) can be seen where they serve pizzas made from the organic vegetables grown in the castle gardens. The building was timbered in an old building technique. Timbered houses belong to our cultural heritage and at Wenngarn, Dammstugan was built by six inch axe chopped pine from Dalarna. The base is made of local stone, the timbre is sawn, roughly 1 200 running meters of different lengths. At Wenngarn we want to offer a totality: work out at the Sports Center, eat and drink well in the restaurant, visit the castle and the park or have a picnic at the terraces, says Martin Gilck who has been involved since the very beginning and is responsible for the Sports Center. He has been given total freedom to design the gym and detail the equipment. The ambition is to create one of Sweden’s best gyms. – We have been incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to work with a world-leading Swedish supplier of the gym’s equipment, says Martin Gilck. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to offer our members the latest, most cutting-edge technology. But everything does not revolve around training hard and intensively. We are eager to inspire and offer an enjoyable atmosphere that is fun and suits everyone, from elite to beginners. The aim of the Sports Center is to give space and availability to everyone. The residents, conference participants, visitors and business people – each and all should be given

room and possibility to train. We have an outdoors gym and soon also a three-kilometer running lane. A ski-track for this winter 2015-2016 is on the wishing list. The outdoor gym is a combination of an obstacle track and free weights. Martin describes it as an indoor gym that lacks roof, a real gym except outdoors. – The goal is to establish the Sports Center as a natural part of everyday life, for instance by offering different types of membership to the business people now moving in to the floor below the Sports Center. Conference participants are offered lectures in health economy. It is a vastly more profitable investment for the future to invest in the health of the staff by different means of healthy activities rather than spending money on sick leave and rehabilitation, says Martin Gilck. The long-term plan for the Sports Center is to develop and broaden activities for a new health-facility, a running track, gym, outdoors gym, a football field and a skiing track. But also to offer possibilities to do yoga and Pilates, both things that have been requested. To broaden the selection results in the fulfilling of many different needs. – Training, eating correctly and experiencing the environment. It is an unbeatable combination, says Martin Gilck. It is not just about the equipment, but also the overall picture, the manner in which we welcome people, the surroundings and all of the different possibilities that Wenngarn has to offer. THOUGHTS ON WELLBEING


The original Dammstuga (Pond Cottage) is dated back to the 18th century. During the 20th century it served as a meeting place for the staff and residents. It also housed Wenngarn’s first television set and before the fire it was a meeting ground for vintage motorcycle- and automobile-enthusiasts.



Dammstugan (Pond Cottage).



Thoughts on the importance of History As this is being written we have been working on the refinement of Wenngarn for two years. In the at least thousand years long history of Wenngarn our presence here has been very brief. When I think of all the people that have spent their lives at Wenngarn and contributed and furthered its history I feel like I am in a small boat out in the middle of the ocean. It is too vast to comprehend! We can learn a lot from what has been and I have learnt a lot about our history during this project. My view of history and the importance to understand in order to be able to create the future has changed. Nowadays I try to look upon it as a priority to preserve, communicate and create history. We must preserve Wenngarn in such a way that we do not delete other people’s history when we add it to our own. That we do not tear down and just replace but add to and expand.

By communicating history in spoken and written form we tie a bond to the past that we otherwise risk loosing. We write down and speak about our ancestor’s own thoughts and speculations. We also have a responsibility to bring our society, our buildings and our culture forward and to dare to create our own history. History is important and sometimes a serious matter but most of all fun and exciting. The historical perspective adds an extra dimension to our lives and helps us keep our feet on the ground. Olle Larsson



Experience history for real Openness is one of Wenngarn’s core values. Thanks to this ambition it attracts a broad variety of visitors, many of whom have a great interest in castles and their surroundings, as well as Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie and other subjects of typical historical interest. Others are attracted to the castle for occult reasons since it is said that the castle is the home of many ghosts from the days of the past.

Wenngarn is also interesting when it comes to modern history: the 1900s institutionalized alcoholics treatment and the recent years of astonishing dilapidation before the refinement process was initiated at Wenngarn in October 2013. 52

– I meet many who come here telling me that they are not especially interested in history, but that they almost inevitably become fascinated with one or another aspect of Wenngarn’s prolific plethora of history. At least that is my experience, says Christopher Scott who shares his time as guide and historian with his special interest in arts. He points out that the historical perspective is more and more disappearing from school education and that historical years and the names of regents are considered the most important things for students to learn. It is uninspiring and does not evoke any urges to delve deeper into our history. – That makes it even more gratifying to bring our thousand years of Wenngarn-history to life, says Christopher Scott. From medieval times to the 20th century. And we make that happen by retelling the stories and dressing up in historical clothing, with treasure hunts where participants, both children and adults, partake interactively in the unique castle-environment.

The different theme-tours, such as the ghost-tour, are another way of inciting curiosity about what has happened at Wenngarn. The fascination grows exponentially when you get involved with the thousand year old history of Wenngarn. History has that effect. The more you can put things in a context, whether it concerns the Era of Great Power (stormaktstiden) or 20th-century events, the more a snowballing feeling of fascination is created. – I know that there are lots of layers that are yet to be discovered in the history of Wenngarn. Several periods, such as the medieval, are still covered in darkness. – Personally I am fascinated by the oldest period. Back when Wenngarn was a medieval fortress positioned on an islet surrounded by Mälaren (a part of the Baltic sea), strategically placed within convenient distance to Stockholm and Sigtuna. Throughout the centuries the land raising has transformed the environment into its present non-archipelagic form. During these times knights and nobility lived here, but exactly what this fortress might have looked like and what its function was is still a matter of speculation. Most likely it was used as a defence fortress during these tumultuous times. Who the different owners were during these the earliest years is not entirely clear either. Christopher Scott thinks that the 16th-century Wenngarn is exciting with its many savage and bloody episodes. This period bears witness of wife beating and child abuse. He mentions especially the “party prince” Gustav of Sachsen, who he considers to have been somewhat of a prototype to modern day jet-setters, leading a life not that different from

our scandalous Hollywood-stars that quickly burnt out while still young. Gustav of Sachsen died at the age of 27 but managed to create a lot of scandal with mistresses, bastard children, drunkenness – but also initiated a massive rebuilding of the castle. A little known character where the few details of his life are, to say the least, colourful. – The obvious and brightest star in Wenngarn’s history is doubtless Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie. His glamour and dramatic fate tends to overshadow other periods – quite rightly so. He was his times biggest landowner and one of the mightiest men in Sweden with a life that probably trumps most modern-day soap operas.


– Naturally ghosts add an extra cozy dimension to the castle environment. Sadly I myself have had no contact with unsettled spirits – yet, Christopher Scott says laughingly. A highly appreciated part of the guided tours of the castle are the stories surrounding the chapel. It is a treasure in Sweden, purely with regards to its well-preserved interior, remaining intact despite all of the tumultuous events that took place here during the 350 years that the chapel has existed.

needy churchgoers with the aid of a bucket tickles one’s imagination and helps increase our interest in historical matters.

– When looking at the chapel we can see clearly what the hierarchic 17th century society was like. The count and countess had their own gallery and their own separate entrances while those belonging to the lower strata of society had their own defined seating places on ground level in the church room. The finest sat in the front while the lowest within this hierarchical system sat furthest back.

– No one should have to be disappointed whether they visit, work or live here at Wenngarn. Here is a thousand years worth of history, stories and myths of knights, kings, ghosts and an abundance of tragic life events.

The story of the pissboy (in Swedish pisspojken) that served

You can almost see him sneaking up with his bucket ready to serve someone in the benches who has just discretely caught his attention.

The whole area is again being brought to life in the shape of a living village society, just like it has been and where history plays an important role. A link between past, present and future. THOUGHTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY

The story of Disa took place at Wenngarn


In ancient times the king of Swedes, Sigtrud, gathered his men in order to come up with a solution to the great famine that plagued the country. At this council they decided to kill all old, sick and weak as they were regarded as being a burden on society. One of the king’s men, the magnate Sixten, travelled home to his manor Wänegårdh (Wenngarn) together with the king’s messenger. Sixten’s daughter Disa When informed of this decision Sixten’s daughter Disa becomes very upset – she states that the whole council must be utterly senseless to make such stupid decisions. She, who was young and lacked experience, was convinced she had a better solution than that of the king and his council. Despite warnings she sought to present her suggestions to the king. When the king heard this he regarded it as a public act of dissension and demanded that Disa should be sentenced to death if she were not to attend his court neither riding, sailing or rowing, neither dressed nor undressed, not during night nor day, not when the moon was waxing nor waning. At next full moon Disa rode in on a goat with one foot in a sled. She was dressed in a fishnet and arrived during dusk to the king who found to his surprise that she had fulfilled his demands. Sigtrud succumbed to her intelligence and promised to marry her if she could indeed find a way to end the famine. Disa suggested to the king to arrange a lottery. Those who were chosen got the alternative either to sacrifice themselves to Oden or to migrate to Norrland, which people had yet not dared to inhabit. To extend his dominion over the country with Norrland would provide

Sigtrud with fame and riches at the same time as ending the famine. The plan succeeded and Sigtrud married Disa who was later crowned queen. To commemorate her heroic feat the king decided that a market should be held in Uppsala each year on the date of her pilgrimage. The commissioned paintings were hung in the hall of the first floor where they remained until the mid-1800s. Later on they were moved to Disasalen where they where displayed as they are today. What is the meaning of this epic tale of Disa, how can it be interpreted?

In the story of Disa Wenngarn is given an important role in Swedish history. The story recounts how nobility can stand up to a king and emerge victorious. There is a clear parallel to Magnus Gabriel as a man of nobility and how he regarded himself and the way he wisely ran the affairs of the state on behalf of king Karl XI during his regency. Magnus Gabriel saw himself as the successor of Disa, she who guaranteed the welfare of the people, and himself a man of great ability and wisdom. It enables us to understand how the nobility viewed themselves before the restitution (land and rights dispossession of the nobility). The story of Disa was also used as a symbol of women’s power; queen Ulrika Eleonora later commissioned a number of golden leather tapestries with the story as motif. She hung these in her reception room.

IBL bildbyrå



Cast of historical figures in Wenngarns history Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie

Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie meant a lot for Sweden during the mid-1600s. In 1661 he launched a massive project to modernize and rebuild no less than three of his castles in Uppland, Jakobsdal (today Ulriksdal), Ekholmen and Wenngarn. Each of the building projects were undertaken simultaneously in order to optimize the workforce. He built several other famous castles and manors in Sweden, Läckö castle, Makalös, Ulriksdal, Kägelholm and Höjentorps castle, to mention just a few. 56

Who was this count, government official and chancellor? He was born 15th of October, 1622 and died in Wenngarn 26th of April 1686. He was described as eloquent, well educated and well informed in European politics. He was a brilliant representative of the Swedish stormaktstid (Era of Great Power), but at the same time very controversial. Upon returning home after completing studies in Uppsala and central Europe he became Queen Kristina’s favorite. In a portrait painted by the Dutch artist Hendrik Münnichhoven De la Gardie’s wife, the countess of Pfalz Maria Eufrosyne is placed one step higher than her husband – in order to demonstrate her higher rank. De la Gardie buys the castle Wenngarn in 1653 after having rented it off the family von Thurn for the last twenty years. Wenngarn became transformed entirely, parts of which we still see today. After the death of king Karl X Gustav in 1660 De la Gardie became a member of Karl XI’s custodial government, was assigned the role of chancellor and marshal. His efforts within

the military were less successful, but as patron and founder of stately buildings he contributed immensely to Swedish culture. Foreign artists and musicians came through his initiative to Sweden. By rebuilding castles and manors with lavish gardens majestic environments were created. With the restitution to the Crown Magnus Gabriel’s economical situation altered drastically. The restitution meant that the nobility’s wealth received by the Crown (the state) during the last decades through gifts and donations was repossessed by the state. Magnus Gabriel was accused of having wasted the nation’s wealth when he was a part of the custodial government and was held accountable. The aftermath for Magnus Gabriel was dire, all his estates and manors were repossessed and his political influence became insignificant. The restitution came down hard on him; he was allowed to stay at Wenngarn only through mercy, while is wife was allowed to keep Höjentorp. These were the kind of misfortunes that inspired him in his composing of religious hymns: O Jesu! När jag hädan skal and Kom, Jesu, du min Frälserman. The accounts of his wealth, lavishness and relative poverty near the end of his life should be viewed in background of that it is said that he completely lacked disposition for economy and financial matters. Creditors during these times did not have any effective legal ways to assert their rights over the people of his social standing. Maria Eufrosyne and Magnus Gabriel had eleven children, but only three of them reached adulthood. Of these surviving children the son died unmarried and both the daughters married, but only Hedvig had herself a child – a son. This

son died childless, thus the last in the line of descent from our most celebrated castle owner. Maria Eufrosyne

Maria Eufrosyne was born the 9th of February 1625 at Stegeborgs castle in Östergötland as countess of Pfalz and princess of Sweden. She was a cousin to queen Kristina and great-grandchild to king Gustav Vasa. Maria was engaged to a German duke but the queen, who was ultimate decision-maker, broke the engagement and arranged for Maria to marry Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, the queen’s favorite. 57

Kristina abdicated and Maria’s brother Karl Gustav became king of Sweden, which made Maria a princess and increased her and her husband’s power. It was difficult to catch the king’s interest so in order to get an audience with him you had to go by different contacts and delegates, Maria being the most effective. When her brother Karl X Gustav died in 1660 she sat by his side. De la Gardie and his wife were entrusted to rule the empire until the king’s son Karl XI came of age. From this time, and twenty years on, the couple was the most powerful in Sweden. This all changed with the restitution to the Crown, the repossession of the nobility’s estates back to the state, when De la Gardie lost everything and Maria was only allowed to keep Höjentorp (since she was the king’s aunt). She spent her last years in writing a biography and a prayer book. The prayer book became quite popular. It was a matter of controversy to publish books as a woman and her prayer book was released under a pseudonym. Still, many of the paintings within the chapel in Wenngarn are illustrations to her written prayers

Maria Eufrosyne and Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie posing in their most exuberant baroque splendor. The painting was made by Henrik Münnichhoven in 1653, the same year that De la Gardie bought Wenngarn from the Crown (state). Note that the count has one foot set below his wife as a symbolic gesture of his lower rank. The beanstalk that Maria holds in her right hand is probably a symbol of her being pregnant.


Jacob Gyllenborg

After Magnus Gabriel’s death Maria Eufrosyne left Wenngarn. It was abandoned until her death when the castle was reclaimed by the state. Most of the inventory was sold to cover for the count’s debts. After a while the castle was handed over to the governor of Uppland – Thegner – but swiftly changed hands to his son-in-law Jacob Gyllenborg. The castle had passed its glory days and the following years were marked by rot, down-grading and decay. Several of the castle’s statues, balconies and a great deal of the garden’s decorative elements were wooden and thrown out because of their rotten state. They were never replaced. Still, Gyllenborg and his family used Wenngarn to its fullest capacity.


In 1731 the eldest of the sons, Carl Gyllenborg, and his wife Sarah Derith saw to it that massive renovations were carried out. The painted ceilings were covered up with cloth in most of the rooms and the second floor was entirely remodeled. The second floor got its present shape with its majestic gallery, that which we today call Disasalen, along with adjoining side-cabinets. Next to the cabinets bedchambers were made for the Master. and Mistress. The sequence of rooms is a copy of Stockholm’s royal castle that, in turn, gathered inspiration from France. The staircase was expanded with a part leading up to the attic in order to make it even more imposing. Other changes included installing tiled ovens, changing tapestry as well as doors. All in order to create a sense of modernity and get rid of the “dark” and “kitschy” that previously dominated the interiors. The exterior was stripped down and painted white. The broad cornices, the placing of walls and tiled ovens are traces from these times. The families Thegner-Gyllenborg-Gerner

Wenngarn passed on to the descendants. The castle was used as an official governors residence by members of these families until the 1820s. The last heir of this long line that lived in the castle was Albrecht Elof Ihre. He carried out a great restoration in 1847-50 and it was during this time that

the castle got its present lower roof. It was also now that the paintings from the story of Disa were moved up to the top floor – from having been on the floor below. The castle was reinstated by the Crown (the state) in 1861 and they, in turn, leased it. During the latter part of the 1800s it was leased to a number of families. The estates had become increasingly dilapidated and maintenance was badly neglected. Jean De la Vallée

Jean de la Vallée was one of the most frequently hired and most popular architects. His father was a French immigrant and one of the first architects in Sweden. He drew prints for everything from almshouses to royal castles and always with his strong trademark style that was connected to continental examples. He had made a grand tour of Europe in order to get a close look at the styles that nobility so painstakingly tried to imitate. He was also hired by Magnus Gabriel to transform Wenngarn from an outdated stone building into something more suitable. He was the man who created the baroque gardens at Wenngarn. The present-day shape of the castle with its two wings, large baroque staircase and garden terraces were all created by De la Vallée. It is commonly held that he is the one who has made the greatest impression upon the castle. Nicolas Vallari

Born in 1646 in Stockholm he was a French-bred painter and sculptor active in Sweden and working under Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie and queen Kristina. He was one of his times leading artist and his motifs were often carried out on very large canvases, often with mythological and allegorical content. Amongst the few preserved works of art is the painted ceiling “Deus temperavit corpus” at Wenngarn. The elegant compositions of a woman amongst the clouds with a light-blue backdrop of a sky and surrounded by little cherubs. He was also active at other castles commissioned by De la Gardie. The entirety of his oeuvre constitutes early examples in Sweden of art containing a rich amount of stucco.












What has happened since Summer of Wenngarn in June 2014?

Wenngarnssomar (Summer of Wenngarn) is inaugurated with an array of splendor and Samba St Olof. June 2014


Outdoors cinema, summer of 2014

Art exhibition, June 2014

Opening of the flea market, June 2014

Wenngarn’s first wedding, June 2014

Vintage car-enthusiast’s meeting, June 2014

Tjejgirot, a bicycle tour for women, August 2014


Fashion show, September 2014

The Apple Day, September 2014

A participation-event – here many ideas were gathered! November 2014

Filming for TV in the chapel. The TV-shows Clown till kaffe and She’s got the look have been filmed here.


Construction work through foul and fair


The Alley Village is taking shape

Morning view beside the semi-detached houses


Inside a renovated semi-detached house

The conference building Smuttan

The semi-detached buildings in the Alley Village were completely renovated.

Cabin lodges suitable during horse-riding camps, for instance.


The construction of the Meadow Houses (Ängsvillorna) is taking place in the Alley Village (Allébyn).

The Pavilion – equipped with 13 condominiums

The Business Center is completed

The chimney was all that survived the fire that consumed the Pond Cottage. Rebuilding it began in September, 2014.


All according to genuine old craftsmanship tradition. In May 2015 the Pond Cottage pizzeria was inaugurated and immediately a great success.

The construction of the Sports Center started in the summer of 2014

The Sports Center was inaugurated in October 2014

The greenhouse was built in the autumn of 2014


The orangery was renovated and is now rebuilt into a unique conference room. The walls are draped with plants!

Halloween party and ghost-tours for kids, autumn of 2014

Harvest Days at Arlanda, October 2014

Lucia comes riding in, December 2014


Christmas atmosphere in the restaurant


Holiday arts and crafts, Christmas market, meet Santa and julbord (Swedish Christmas buffet), December 2014.

Guided tours

Elitlopp (horse races) party in the Culture Stable, spring of 2015

Big screen monitors in the barn

Swedish museums’ annual spring gathering, May 2015

Riding excursions start in spring 2015

Wenngarn’s kindergarten started during the spring of 2015



Celebration of Walpurgis


Our landscape architect Daniel Bell together with the chili-expert Hugo Nömm shared their knowledge with visitors during “Trädgårdsdagarna” (the Garden Days). May 2015


Medieval jousting tournament, in the summer of 2015

A few voices

Residents When we came to Wenngarn to look at the house we instantly fell in love with it. The environment, the castle and the surroundings exist nowhere else. To us arriving to Wenngarn was like coming home. Our family has landed here and it feels like it has always been our home. The future at Wenngarn feels very bright. The feeling we get is that all of those who live and work here want to make the best for Wenngarn. We all help out with contributing to shaping Wenngarn into a place for everyone. The Pellegrini family who lives in one of the semi-detached houses in the Alley Village.


Visitors Osvald and Louise Westerberg from Järfälla visited Wenngarn one sunny summers day in the middle of August 2015. They told us they had not been to Wenngarn in many years. The latest visit was during the Pentecostal drug- and alcoholicsinstitute – run by the Lewi Petrus Institution (1983-1995). – It was close relatives to us who recommended a visit, says Osvald Westerberg. He says it was well worth a visit. Lots have happened to the buildings, the gardens and the castle. – We will be back for next summer, they assure us. We still have lots more to see. Osvald And Louise Westerberg.



Kids from the kindergarten Pre-school children are on the daily bread-round from the bakery for their mellis (a Swedish meal taken before and after lunch). – This is reaaaally heavy! But I am SUPER strong! Ludvig, one of Wenngarn’s kindergarten-kids.

Colleagues – I started working at Wenngarn in May 2014 and my main task has been to make sure that the administration of the restaurant and the weddings work according to plan, says Ellen Sund who together with her colleague Richard Johansson work as headwaiter. The larger the parties and events, the more fun and exciting the work is, says Ellen who devotes most of her time to coordinating staff, scheduling, drinks, driving schedules, menus, permissions et cetera. A close-working relationship with head chef Peter Lorentzon is also important. Up until August 2015 there have been 18 marriages with associated festivities. We try to cater the needs of everyone. The challenge is to match the expectations all the time so that everyone gets satisfied, says Ellen Sund. – We have a great team where everyone co-operates to achieve the guests expectations! Ellen Sund and Malva Kempe who work as extra help.



THANKS A project like Wenngarn is like a love affair, like an infatuation or a journey – a lot more than just work. A journey filled with adversity and success. In order not to lose myself completely in the project it is important for me to create a structure containing a beginning and an end. The planning itself is to me and many others the highpoint: the dreams, possibilities and the challenges. To formulate the visions, the goals, the strategies and to make plans of action, build an organization and set up the conditions. This book is about how vision, goals and values are transformed into activities, services and suitable environments. The empty buildings become populated with people that create culture and infuse the area with life and activity. An organic identity that cannot be controlled. As a construction company we have never before been involved in this phase, we have sold and handed over that responsibility to more qualified organizations. We are still here at Wenngarn and create activities with the hotel, restaurants, kindergarten, business center and sports center, events and activities with medieval jousting tournaments, outdoor-cinema and Wenngarnssommar (Wenngarn Summer). Together with those who visit us, lives here and work here at Wenngarn we create a society. It is a big challenge but also incredibly exciting and fun. It has definitely

been the most enjoyable and challenging project I have ever undertaken. This book is about the work we have put in and in some way also a diary and documentation of sorts regarding the process and problems we have encountered and wrestled with when we tried to create a new Wenngarn. The legend of Sisyfos is about a task that cannot be completed. To us similar challenge of that sort remains to be resolved at Wenngarn. How can we ensure that Wenngarn has a prosperous future and remain an important and historical site with openness, overall view, participation and passion as core values? How do we maintain a management system based on co-operation and democracy? How do we guarantee legal rights and obligations and, perhaps most importantly, how do we ensure the financing and economic stability in times of economical unrest? We do not have the answers but with the aid of all fantastic co-workers, friends, neighbours, associations, politicians and companies that have been involved in this project I feel convinced that we will find a way. “Difficult” is fun and “easy” is boring. A big thanks to all that have contributed! 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 pushing and shoving a great boulder up a mountain. In order to manage this task he is forced to use every ounce of his strength. 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 saying 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 thing there is, and thus Zeu´s attempt to punish him becomes a failure. In a work of the author Albert Camus it is we, mortal human beings, who are actually 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 choose 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 choose and take responsibility for your own life is one of the main features in existentialist philosophy.

This is the second book about the refinement and development of Wenngarn. The book begins where the first ended and describes the vision and thoughts when construction is replaced by practical business and how the village society Wenngarn was created. Follow the exciting development as thoughts, visions and strategies become reality. www.wenngarn.se


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