Learnings from Borlänge

Library Anthony Fitheoglou More

The final design exercise for the Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture sought to design a public building either a library, a university building, or a train station for Borlänge, Sweden. The scheme presented is for a library exploring composition, tectonics and the use of the classical orders to express the building’s character as well as responding to the relationship of the classical to the vernacular of Borlänge. 

As the library is a large public building, a four-day excursion held in Stockholm became highly influential witnessing twentieth-century classical architecture, known as ‘Swedish Grace’ consequently assisting the realisation of the scheme. It was by studying the Swedish architect Sigurd Lewerentz’s Chapel of Resurrection in Skogskyrkogården that the exploration and application of this precedent assisted the composition of the scheme following traditional concepts of partipochéesquisse and façades.

The expression of the scheme is classically restrained using a Corinthian astylar composition to inform the façades. The pavilioned principal façade introduces a portico-in-antis within the central bay adopting an unfluted Greek Doric order, therefore accenting the entrance to the library. With its tripartite arrangement, the proposed material qualities of the scheme are suggested through its granite base, white rendered walls and copper standing-seam pitched roof. Windows follow the tectonic taxis of the granite base with mullions featuring a subtle pattern seen through all window types. With little decoration to the façade, an ornamental bronze plaque is situated above the portico-in-antis which reads:

“BORLANGE BIBLIOTEK DET HAR BIBLIOTEKET UPPFORDOS OCH PRESENTBRADES TILL STADENS MEDBORGARE AX:SON-JOHNSONS”

“BÖRLANGE LIBRARY THIS BRANCH LIBRARY WAS ERECTED AND PRESENTED TO THE CITIZENS BY AX:SON-JOHNSON FAMILY”

A series of hand-drafted representational techniques document the conception of the scheme from the urban scale to the human scale. Drawings include a site location plan, principal elevation with its correlating façade plan, side elevation, nolli plan, section through the entrance vestibule, as well as, an external perspective in context. The drawings illustrate the schemes holistic resolution and can be read as a proposal encompassing the principles of the forgotten modern – Swedish Grace.