Gunnar Asplund's Gothenburg

The Transformation of Public Architecture in Interwar Europe

By (author) Nicholas Adams

Hardback - £51.95

Publication date:

08 October 2014

Length of book:

288 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271059846

In the west coast port city of Gothenburg, Sweden, the architect Gunnar Asplund built a modest extension to an old courthouse on the main square (1934–36). Judged today to be one of the finest works of modern architecture, the courthouse extension was immediately the object of a negative newspaper campaign led by one of the most noted editors of the day, Torgny Segerstedt. Famous for his determined opposition to National Socialism, he also took a principled stand against the undermining of urban tradition in Gothenburg. Gothenburg’s problems with modern public architecture, though clamorous and publicized throughout Sweden, were by no means unique. In Gunnar Asplund’s Gothenburg, Nicholas Adams places Asplund’s building in the wider context of public architecture between the wars, setting the originality and sensitivity of Asplund’s conception against the political and architectural struggles of the 1930s. Today, looking at the building in the broadest of contexts, we can appreciate the richness of this exquisite work of architecture. This book recaptures the complex magic of its creation and the fascinating controversy of its completed form.

“In his penetrating and inspiring study, Nicholas Adams makes a contested provincial Swedish masterpiece the focus of a wide architectural and cultural context. He reveals the complexity of progressive modernity in relation to public monumental space, traditions, and institutional authority, viewing Asplund’s courthouse extension as both expression and functional scenography. His book adds substantially to Swedish architectural historiography and to the understanding of the international scene and their interrelationship.”

—Johan Mårtelius, co-author of The Complete Guide to Architecture in Stockholm