Kiruna

I like architecture…

… even when it’s cold, when the earth shakes beneath your feet.
Travel observations from Buchkirchen (AT) to Gällivare (SE)

This summer, we had to bundle up more than once, as many of the projects for the PREFARENZEN book 2022 were in the far north or the weather simply did not always play along. Our path led us through Austria, to Switzerland, southern and central Germany, the northern Swedish Sápmi and all the way to Norway.

The diversity of our impressions was stunning: Water thundered down the rock, the earth shook beneath our feet and some places only showed their character for a few short moments. The selected photos and the stories that go along with them are a foray through what you call the great noise at work.

AUSTRIA

Old cinema in Sierning
Garden near Buchkirchen

Old cinema in Sierning, Upper Austria + garden near Buchkirchen, Upper Austria

Start in Sierning, Buchkirchen and Schwanenstadt. The first impression suggests a rural exodus. That is wrong, of course, even if the cinema is unfortunately no longer open and the last movie was played in 1993. It is planned to be revitalised over the next few years. As was to be expected, there are other idylls in the small places in Upper Austria that invite you to stay.

SWITZERLAND

Flexhouse on Lake Zurich + terraced houses in Horgen

Flexhouse on Lake Zurich
Terraced houses in Horgen, Zürich

In Switzerland, we encountered bad weather. Enough time to visit a building that poses questions with its form. Unfortunately, the homeowner and architect was on the go. Back in Horgen, we had to wait until the concrete was dry.

GERMANY

Detail view, Würzburg Cathedral, bronze portal
Lateral view carwash

Details of the portal of the Würzburg Cathedral + Bavaria, conversion of a carwash near Munich.

If you also keep your eyes open during short breaks, you will encounter a surprise or two. During a pit stop just after Munich, the conversion of a carwash from the late sixties impressed us. Under the layer of industrial glass, the elegant form of the past is visible. And in Würzburg, the impressive bronze portal of the cathedral. A chance discovery, an inspiring stroke of luck.

Ulm School of Design

Interior view Ulm School of Design
External view Ulm School of Design, shadows

Our journey took us to Munich, Schweinfurt, Würzburg and Ulm. With our stop at the School of Design, we not only followed our curiosity but also witnessed an entirely unexcited and timeless architecture. The Ulm School of Design (HfG Ulm) sparked international impulses across all design disciplines and is connected to big names of post-war modernism – the writer Inge Aicher-Scholl, the graphic designer Otl Aicher, the designer Hans Gugelot and the architect Max Bill. You’ve never heard of the school? The Lufthansa logo, the style of Braun and Junghans watches are examples of the successful design products surrounding the unique college.

Three-seater in red

Three-seater in red, Hotel Seligweiler + model Bad Homburg between pieces of sugar

You are usually overcome with design inspiration unexpectedly and colours are also always contemporary witnesses, as this three-seater at a hotel in southern Germany impressively demonstrates. Another interesting method regarding the topic of inspiration: mixing scales.

Opel, front view
Car, Opel, sun

Central Germany, Rockenberg and surrounding area

Germany – land of cars. A remarkably successful style in Rockenberg, a small town north of Frankfurt: It is hard to believe that some say Opel is not elegant. Too bad that the beautiful car was not up for sale. And on the motorway, we were always either a little too fast or too slow to get the rare bolides rolling past us in front of the camera.

Central Germany, house and lake near Frankfurt

House, roof tiles, roof wood
Lake, goat, sunset, shore

Astonishing things in central Germany. The mix of materials on the roof of this house caught my eye and made me wonder. Are the wooden shingles real? I had to take at least two close looks. Not far away, a lake where you can watch the sunset in the evening to round off the day. I couldn’t find out where the goat came from, but it was trusting and definitely not afraid.

SWEDEN

Malmö

Barrier, loading ramp, Malmö, clouds
Ice cream, grey, sweets, spoons, wooden table

Loading ramp, free port in Malmö
+ grey ice cream

This year, we only experienced Malmö in passing. We hardly hade any time in the pretty Swedish city, so we had to be quick: a snapshot of the old free port, which will give way to the new mega district Nyhamnen in the upcoming 10 years, and one of grey ice cream with a black sesame crust from the hip harbour cantine Saltimporten Canteen.

Interior view Malmö Konsthall
Drawing José Leonilson

Interior of the Malmö Konsthall + drawing by José Leonilson

The Konsthall of the architect Klas Anshelm is both an architectural and an intellectual discovery. Behind it lies an unheated 2000 m2 large hall right in the centre of Malmö that can be used very flexibly and makes contemporary art accessible to everyone with free admission.

Lund

MAX IV laboratory for X-ray research
Lateral view, housing estate Djinghis Khan

MAX IV X-ray research laboratory + Djinghis Khan housing estate in Lund

The globally unique X-ray research laboratory MAX IV in the southern Swedish city of Lund is a superlative of science. The cooperatively organised housing estate BSR Djingis Khan realised in wooden modular construction close by was already a magnet for scientists and their families in the 1970s.

KIRUNA

Lake, rainbow, woods, street, tundra, Kiruna

Plants and tundra in Kiruna

Meadow, flower, street, ore mountain, tundra
Meadow, flowers, warm light, sun, tundra

4:30 a.m. – time to get up. In the summer, you have less than two hours of night in the northern Swedish town of Kiruna. Bright light gleams across the tundra in the early hours. Remarkable colours between gold, red, rust, anthracite and indescribable natural hues reach all the way to the horizon, as if somebody had poured Abraham Gottlob Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours over the landscape.

Glass window, reflection, teapot
Old house, red façade, green door, wooden stairs, Kiruna

One of the oldest houses in Kiruna

The 120-year-old iron city Kiruna will move its centre three kilometres to the east until 2035. Several old buildings will disappear, others will find a new location. More than 6000 inhabitants are packing up their things and moving. This house here is one of the oldest ones on site. It seems as if its owners simply got up after enjoying their tea and never returned.

Ralph Erskine’s residential estate Kvarteret Ortdrivaren plus a poster with Greta Thunberg + a churros and confectionery stand in the city centre of Kiruna

Residential estate, Ralph Erskine, churros, confectionery stand
Poster, Greta Thunberg, residential estate, Ralph Erskine, car

In 1958, the British-Swedish architect Ralph Erskine designed the vision of an ecological city in the Arctic. He was able to realise parts of his utopia right in Kiruna. More ideas like these would surely be in Greta Thunberg’s interest. But unfortunately, the days of the concrete utopia and the old city centre are numbered. Whether people will also stand in line at the churros stand for several hours once a week in the new Kiruna?

Street view, Adolf Hedingsvägen, buildings, Kiruna
Town hall, Kiruna bell tower

View into Adolf Hedingsvägen + new town hall of Kiruna with old bell tower

The end of the deformation zone in Kiruna: Adolf Hedingsvägen represents one of the limits for the local areas where houses will be torn down or delocalised until 2025. Buildings are disappearing on the right side, while the left side of the street will stay for the time being. And what about the new Kiruna? We would not have been in Kiruna if we had not visited the old town hall. In 2018, Henning Larsen Architects materialised the so-called “Crystal” together with Tema Landscape Architects – a somewhat defiant dream with a shiny gold inner life.

Façade of a bicycle shop in Kiruna and a Former kiosk

Close-up bicycle store, logo, Skeppshult
Lateral view, kiosk, street, façade, pink

Apparently, there are also bicycle fans in the northernmost city of Sweden. A yellow wooden house flaunts the pathetic logo of the bicycle brand Skeppshult in Kiruna. In the small town of Skeppshult, the iron and ore from Kiruna are processed into bicycles and since 1906 also into wonderful hand-made cast iron pans. A few streets down, a pink house whose advertising signs look like they are merely graphic placeholders today. Bold colours in any case, if the weather had only been a little better …

Special offer sign, reindeer products, street
Augmented reality glasses, reindeer skin

Special-offer sign for reindeer products in Kiruna + augmented reality glasses at the LKAB information centre in Gällivare

Sometimes, tradition and the future lie close together. Products from reindeer husbandry are ubiquitous in the Swedish Sápmi. On a virtual tour, you can stroll through the old and the new Gällivare while sitting on soft reindeer skin. In other places, some reindeer breeders are still completely committed to established products and classical “print media”.

GÄLLIVARE

Detail, photo, Cooper & Gorfer, Interruptions, traditional Sápmi garment
Interior view Kunskapshuset school, Gällivare

Detail from a photo by Cooper & Gorfer (Interruptions) with traditional Sápmi garment + the Kunskapshuset school in Gällivare

Two become one: The mining town Malmberget is giving way to ore mining and merging with the neighbouring city of Gällivare. Socially important buildings like a joint training centre are welcomed euphorically by all residents. With an unconventional architecture, strong colours and symbolic references to the cultural heritage of the indigenous Sámi people, the planners are taking an unusual path in Gällivare.

Residential construction in Malmberget and demolition of a skyscraper

Skyscraper, demolition, debris
Residential construction, Malmberget, balconies

Now and then, you still come across traces of housing in the disappearing town of Malmberget. Around the corner, the demolition has already taken place. A city in a state of upheaval?

Showcase, music cover, SUN RA, Space is the Place
Close-up sweets, paper bag, Godis För Finsmakare

Cult cover of the musician SUN RA in a showcase + classic paper bag with Swedish “Godis För Finsmakare”

Notebooks and a few sweets are constant companions during our travels through Scandinavia. Writing takes up energy, of course, and this loss of energy needs to be compensated. In a relaxed state of attention, it can also be helpful to listen to a little bit of music. It’s hard to believe that we happened to come across SUN RA in Sweden, whose album title is an ideal travel motto: Space is the Place. What a great inspiration!

NORWAY

Wood, Steinberg waterfall, Øystese
Lateral view old building, façade, wall, dark red, light green

Steinberg waterfall, Øystese + material mix on the wayside

At the end, we trace our travel stations one last time in our thoughts. Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A souvenir this year? Rather a new travel destination: The breathtaking landscape on the Scenic Routes in Norway are worth taking a closer look at and inspire us to ponder about further expeditions.

Author, Claudia Gerhäusser

Text: Claudia Gerhäusser
Photos: Claudia Gerhäusser, Croce & Wir

CLUE

With the PREFARENZEN dialogue platform, PREFA created a forum for the further development of innovative and architecturally sophisticated roof and façade solutions made of aluminium.

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