Architect: Marcel Meili and Markus Peter, Marcel Meili, Markus Peter Architekten (Switzerland)
Result: Not selected
The Center in the Public Space
The design sees the terrain as an open port platform, on which parts are deposited rather than having buildings and walls grow out of the ground. Based on this interpretation, we structured the programme into three light barrel vaults that advance as a cone from the interior of the peninsula towards the water and are lightly resting on the ground. As a reminder of its former use, the old port building is left standing. The barrel structure is pierced by light wells, which ensure the public permeability of the place from the park to the water on the level of the ground floor. The site of the former port area is thereby to retain a portion of its public aspect and represent a collective claim of the water. The quay underneath the mighty overhang is a public passage intended for strolling through, complete with a restaurant. The Nobel Center is to grow out of the public space all around and, thus, clearly show that it is embedded in and part of the city of Stockholm.
A Movement and Face Turned Towards the Water
The structure of the building is designed to turn its main face towards the water and, there, establish by the expressive form of the barrel shapes a recognizable image, the unmistakable icon of the Nobel Center in the urban landscape. The three shells are split in the centre to allow for light wells, and the shell halves form a pair of beating wings like seabirds landing on water.
Since the wings stabilize each other as to their engineering, we also need a wing at the ends. On one end, this end shell inclines itself like a music pavilion towards the park and water and creates a piece of covered public park. On the other end, the shell encloses the port building into the overall figure. Spatially, these low lateral shells also establish the scale of the project in relation to the neighboring areas. They anchor the overall height ascending towards the centre of the building in the midst of the structural and spatial townscape of Stockholm.
A Silhouette as a Global Icon of the Nobel Center Headquarters
This pair of wings within the barrel shapes characterizes the silhouette of the complex and provides it with its unmistakable silhouette against the sky and an almost paper-like lightness. The future architectural character of the Nobel Center, its iconicity, will thus be created by the elegant movement of its barrel-shaped roofs that project onto Stockholm’s waterscape and reflect its waves: a structure full of serenity, and a building that seems to smile. The barrels lightly blend with the water, the same as many of the beautiful trees of this city.
The Barrel Structure as a Container of Functions
The barrel structure was chosen for several reasons. In its present, “split” form, it represents a top product of current engineering science, which reflects Nobel’s thirst for knowledge; its manufacture would challenge the entire range of skills of the construction companies, too. Furthermore, this strategy of spanning large widths creates the possibility to integrate the large hall inside without any auxiliary constructions, whilst accommodating all other functions; in particular the museum, as a free, widely variable structure into the barrels. Conference Center, offices, and museum are built into the vaults as an almost free, inner topography, whose spatial structure strives towards the waterfront allowing as many of the functions as possible enjoy the truly amazing view. This particularly applies to the auditorium, which may be opened towards the water and the city. The auditorium, made of wood and cloths of great ceremonial import, is strengthened in its ceremonial character by this opening. During the long Scandinavian night, the hall will illuminate the urban space: “Look, the prize ceremony is taking place …”. This spatial order integrating all functions causes us to seek out the iconic figure of the building by its flowing roofscape and waterfront site and not by its dissolved or even classical volume: a single, easily understood sculptural gesture is to shape our perception of the building and allow for an exciting opportunity to freely unfold its interior functional and spatial structure.
All pictures: Copyright Nobelhuset AB