Learnings from Borlänge

Learnings from Borlänge

Let us take you back to the summer of 2019, a time when the thought of masks and pandemics would never have crossed our minds.

On 1st July 2019, 22 students from 18 different countries came together to attend the first day of the Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture. Over the next four weeks, students learned and applied the fundamentals of architecture through various hand drawing exercises, ranging from small pavilions to large public buildings, all located in the Swedish City of Borlänge. This virtual exhibition is a record of their work, which was initially intended to be displayed at the museum BOMO Borlänge Modern in the Spring of 2020.

A detailed and comprehensive publication entitled Building a More Beautiful Borlänge and edited by the directors of the school, Jenny Bevan and Christopher Liberatos, has been compiled to accompany the exhibition. To learn more, please contact us.

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© 2020 Engelsberg SS. The Engelsberg Summer School is run in partnership with:


I. The School

Learning the fundamentals of architecture at Engelsberg

The Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture is a four-week intensive programme taught by leading practitioners and academics of modern classical architecture. Practical and theoretical modules give students both taught and hands-on experience, with opportunities for discussion, debate, and learning throughout. The combination of individual projects, group work, and one-to-one support from tutors provide a unique learning experience for students and practitioners of all levels of ability and experience. Visiting tutors from France, Britain, Estonia, The Netherlands, Portugal and the USA lectured on subjects relating to applied classical architecture, and also led three design projects: a park pavilion, a mixed-use building and a public building.

“By ‘classical’ we mean the aesthetic and architectural principles, patterns, elements, and features of architecture that span across time and are shared across cultures. It refers to an architectural expression that remains valid even as politics change. Classicism is not a single style, but rather a philosophical approach that results in an infinite number of possible styles. Its expression ranges from the smallest of scales to the largest, from door hardware to street furniture, from simple private buildings to monumental public ones. As Architectural historian Johan Mårtelius describes it, “the classical tradition provided a system for uniting the scales of details and of the individual building with that of the city.” –  (Building a More Beautiful Borlänge, Bevan and Liberatos)

Students at the Engelsberg Ironworks. Photo by Stina Stjernkvist.

The Swedish city of Borlänge

During the course, students made trips to Stockholm, Falun and other cities around Engelsberg to study design patterns and different urban, architectural and construction scales. The final site chosen for all three of the design projects was the small city of Borlänge located north of Engelsberg, in Dalarna County. Borlänge, referred to as ‘the smallest big city in Sweden’, features great examples of traditional vernacular architecture with a dense, human-scale street pattern made of two to three-storey single and mixed-use buildings. Unfortunately, in more recent years ‘urban renewal’ has hurt the streetscape of Borlänge. With the city experiencing increasing pressure to build larger housing complexes, squares and buildings were torn down to make space for surface parking, and statement steel and glass buildings were built to stand out from the existing context. The drawings in this exhibition are proposals both for new buildings on existing empty sites, and for new buildings to replace existing ones in Borlänge.

The directors of the school, along with teaching assistants Nils Gustafsson and Carl Arvidsson, took students’ projects one step further and incorporated them into a new masterplan proposal dedicated to the citizens of Borlänge, which can be found in the publication Building a More Beautiful Borlänge by Bevan and Liberatos.

II. Small Scale

A Promenade Park Pavilion

The proposal to upgrade the existing public toilet gave students the opportunity to employ canonical classicism at a small scale. A new public toilet pavilion would be a functional ornament between Stationsgatan and the proposed new Promenade Park, which would replace an existing surface parking lot. It would also form a visual link between Stationsgatan and the new Station Square to the south. The design brief called for public toilets with room for a custodian and an optional cafe. Students chose the materials and were encouraged to consider how material choice affects the expression of the orders, and how the orders can be used to express the public nature of the building. (Building a More Beautiful Borlänge, Bevan and Liberatos)

Park Pavilion at the Engelsberg Ironworks. Photo by Stina Stjernkvist.

III. Medium Scale

Mixed use buildings around Svea Square and Svea Theatern

This project was to design the public-facing façade of a proposed new mixed-use building consisting of shop space on the ground floor, and offices or residential apartments above. Some proposed buildings would be sited on empty lots currently being used for surface parking, including three new blocks of buildings on what is currently surface parking along the railway line. This would create a new street terminating at the existing tourist pavilion on Stationsgatan. Other proposals include varied replacements for existing incongruous buildings and the refacing of existing, incongruous buildings with new façades. (Building a More Beautiful Borlänge, Bevan and Liberatos)

Mixed use designs by students, 3D model and rendering by Vincent Veneman

IV. Large Scale

A library, a school and a train station

The final design project was for a large-scale public building for the city of Borlänge. Students chose between designing a library to replace the existing one facing the main city square, a new Högskolan (college) building or a new train station. For all projects, students selected the materials and the styles with which they wished to design.

A few projects were selected to be turned into 3D rendered models for the purpose of the physical exhibition at BOMO Borlänge Modern. The models were made by Vincent Veneman, and the final rendered images where executed by Charles Roberts Studio. 

Darlarna Högskolan, design by Cecilia deBary McCammon, 3D model by Vincent Veneman and rendering by Charles Roberts Studio
Borlänge Tågstation, design by Ylva Schutte, 3D model by Vincent Veneman and rendering by Charles Roberts Studio
Borlänge Bibliotek, design by Tomasz Geras, 3D model by Vincent Veneman and rendering by Charles Roberts Studio

V. A Year On

Alumni discussion

More than a year has passed since the newly graduated class of 2019 left the Engelsberg Ironworks. Each student left with new skills, thoughts and ideas to bring back home with them. We wanted to reconnect with our alumni and hear the many ways in which the summer school has helped them shape their personal and professional careers. Below is a live Zoom event and online panel hosted by INTBAU and featuring students from the USA, Australia, Belgium, Sweden and The Netherlands.


A detailed and comprehensive publication entitled Building a More Beautiful Borlänge and written by the directors of the school, Jenny Bevan and Christopher Liberatos, has been compiled to offer an alternative future for the city of Borlänge. The publication is dedicated to the citizens of Borlänge and will be available shortly. Contact us if you wish to receive a copy.