Conference paper

Renovatio urbis Stockholm. Conferring a proper character to a city on the archipelago

The paper examines how the leading exponent of the National-Romanticism Ragnar Östberg (1866-1945) contributed to conferring a proper and national character to the Stockholm’s "imago urbis" at the turn of the nineteenth century. The Swedish capital, once a provincial city on the margins of Europe, became rapidly a metropolis of the North. It called for new plans shaping its appearance: architects were not interested in a global urban design, rather they focused on specific points of the city, according to the "renovatio urbis" concept. This approach was mostly due to those topographical features, that distinguished it from other European cities: being scattered on islands of the archipelago. Therefore, Stockholm has to be interpreted in its interrupted continuity, like its sibling lagoon city on islands: Venice. More than a repertoire of images, the latter was a real wonderland for Nordic architects. Nature and city join their hands and form the backdrop for Östberg’s projects, as in the two presented case-studies: the Stockholm City Hall with its unbuilt nearby part Commission Building and villa Geber. They express a character adherent to the soul of the archipelago and hark back to urban forms of the tradition. To sum up, the locus where a city is rooted has always been essential since the antiquity. As Rossi stated (1966), there is a connection between architecture and its location, considered as the resulting artefact of its space and its time, of its topographical dimensions and its form.

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