Learnings from Borlänge

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, […]

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.