sigurd lewerentz, florist, 1969

flower shop, completed 1969.

östra kyrkogården, malmö, 1916-1969.

architect: sigurd lewerentz, 1885-1975 (with bernt nyberg 1927-1978)


for a long time, the flower shop in malmö was my favourite building, and believing it to be the one piece of architecture able to express aspects of the human condition I would normally seek out in literature, I have visited the place more times than any other building outside copenhagen.


while this grey little girl no longer tops my long list of crushes, returning always leaves me thinking "still crazy after all these years"...


kraus claimed that art should present itself in the form of an enigma and lewerentz certainly delievers. this time in malmö, however, I felt I was able to decipher more than ever before.


I now believe the flower shop to be a return to neoclassicism for lewerentz and a departure from the neo-ruskinian anti-modernism of his two great churches. its skillful play on squares and the golden section, and the subversive distortion of familiar details connect this house with the methodology of his 1920s projects.


the sheer elegance of its proportions alone separates it from klippan and björkhagen and demonstrates at least two things: a continuity in all of lewerentz' works, and the willfulness of the churches in terms of an artist consciously working against his prior knowledge of his craft, unlearning with every step taken.


"all I know is that you are not going to do it the way you normally do", was not only an order spoken to his masons but a reminder spoken to himself during the design and construction of the churches, and - as a method, an obsessive, tortuous method - finally abandoned in this, his last building.


those concerned with the survival of our late-modernist heritage will be disheartened to hear that a second extension has been added to the shop. this time, at least, not physically connected.


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the lewerentz set.

more brutalist architecture.

wowo72, ekainj and 107 more people faved this
  • seier+seier 5y

    thanks chris, and yes, miralles used lewerentz in a very obvious way - utzon, jacobsen and aalto too, of course. it was as if he made a point of quoting the old scandinavian masters.
  • Ben Lepley 5y

    1- Lewerentz
  • seier+seier 5y

    a list of the nordic masters? by quality? or the most influential? most theraputic to frustrated architects?

    lewerentz would top the latter list, but there are so many aspects of architecture he does not cover, at least in his built work. from any serious angle, I think aalto is a natural first.

    the nordic masters themselves would probably name asplund as the most influential, he was such a model to the whole movement, if it was a movement, and his ethics, if not his actual buildings, should still inform our work. come to think of it, his buildings too.

    in built architecture today, I think there can be no doubt that utzon is the most influential. the idea of an outrageous, modern building which is loved equally by architects and laymen is central to all the gehrys and hadids of our time. the holy grail in modern monuments is the bilbao effect, but shouldn't we call it the sydney effect?

    to me, the most thought-provoking aspect of this imaginary list of the nordic masters: that they are all dead, that it is over.
  • Francis Jonckheere 5y

    Had to look up the Miralles version:
    Lewerentz / Miralles
  • seier+seier 5y

    nice work, francis :)

    I think he has done that more than once, I remember seeing something similar on a ceiling.

    I also think miralles made the heritage of the nordic masters come alive and I don't see any Danish architects doing that today.
  • Ben Lepley 5y

    Aalto is very therapeutic indeed. I really need to learn more on these particular architects. My southern California education only lightly touched on these characters. Since you are the local expert, is there a particular book you recommend for someone like me? Maybe a book that compares these 'Danish Masters' in a comprehensive and illustrative manner? I would look at it as a continuation of my education. I suppose I could just print out your whole photo stream.... :P

    Also Kristian, if you see a gap in the quality or continuum of Danish architecture today, then that surely means that someone like you should fill that gap.
  • seier+seier 5y

    I actually meant that lewerentz was therapeutic, at least for tired architects...he pandered to no-one. utzon's two or three final buildings are like that too, and very inspired by lewerentz.

    aalto is more complex in that regard. of the modernist superstars, scandinavian or global, he was the nation-builder. finland was a young state, don't forget. he was not the soft humanist, he is sometimes made to be when described in (or reduced to) a few words.

    I can't recommend a single book about nordic architecture, certainly not a Danish book. in architecture, we don't have the critical tradition of other european countries like italy or spain.

    I would probably look for a spanish text about jacobsen, and kenneth frampton's unsentimental essay about aalto from his book...I forget...called...architecture, labor and production, or something like that. he is also the best writer on utzon (studies in tectonic culture).

    I don't know what to recommend about lewerentz and asplund. I like to read the contemporary reviews in old scandinavian magazines rather than the new books.

    and about my photo stream: it is implicitly about nordic architecture because it looks at the world from here. we drove through sweden to norway last summer, so when I find the time to upload photos of the buildings we visited, it will also explicitly be about nordic architecture :) I know you'll love some of the houses from that trip - and some of them you can't even find in books, so hang in there.

    ever provocative peter eisenman was once asked about the nordic tradition and simply replied, there is no nordic tradition. I think he is right. certainly, it is a problematic use of the word tradition. when I think about nordic architecture, I think about certain connections between certain individuals at a certain time.

    fisker worked for lewerentz, lewerentz worked with asplund, jacobsen worked for fisker and asplund. aalto wanted to work for asplund. utzon worked for aalto. fisker taught utzon. fehn worked with utzon. it was a kind of dance between a small group of people who shared certain conditions and influences in their youth. the decisive years were ca. 1912-1922. some of them weren't even present (which fits well with karen blixen's idea that we are rarely present at the events most important to our own lives).

    who is left today?

    a lot of the people who worked for jacobsen went on to start their own offices. henning larsen and knud holscher were the most succesful, I think, and maybe, just maybe, there is still a connection in some of holscher's design work. other than that, this great conversation, this dance, is over.
  • Fred Scharmen 5y

    Fantastic. Thanks for posting this, and for the information on an architect that I knew far too little about.
  • seier+seier 5y

    thanks, 765, that is very generous of you.

    I have some more lewerentz material waiting on my computer for when I have more time, maybe in the autumn :)
  • seier+seier 5y

    a straight quote here:

    Woodshed (V&A #9)

    "architects build small spaces" (because they can't afford big ones) at the V & A
  • seier+seier 5y

    does anyone know who designed the structure above?
  • Peter Guthrie 5y

    Yes ;-)
  • Peter Guthrie 5y

  • seier+seier 5y

    yes, of course, it is rural studio. they have also done some serious quoting from hugo häring. thanks, p.g.
  • Peter Guthrie 5y

    yep, I saw the HH inspired thing too, I reckon they are following your photostream!
  • seier+seier 5y

    ha! I doubt that very much.

    looking at the exhibition from copenhagen, it looks as if rintala eggertsson architects made the most of the brief with their book tower. less design, more architecture, so to speak.
  • eva2528 4y

    hi, does any one know the theory behind the light design by lewerentz?
  • seier+seier 4y

    good question!

    I don't don't think lewerentz sat down and made theories - after all, theories are the business of academics, not architects - but his buildings certainly carried their own, private agendas - separate from any programme from the client.

    there is a very subversive sense of humour to his final works and this is no exception.

    what are we looking at? a pattern of ugly off-the-shelf plastic goods and wiring somewhere between the geometrical and the organic, the repeated branching making it reminiscent of a plant, perhaps with the light bulbs as flowers...

    in their copy, shown in the comments above, rural studio turned lewerentz' idea into a stylized tree - i.e. they made things a little obvious, but they are americans, whatareyougonnado...

    significantly, lewerentz did his version right after his two brick churches had made him the hero of an alternative, craft-based modernism, at heart, a sentimental enterprise and lewerentz was not sentimental.

    if you are a student of architecture, eva2528, remember this when you are forced to sit through lectures on authenticity and local materials and place and being and heidegger, and you feel as if there must be a hidden string orchestra somewhere, playing with too much vibrato...remember lewerentz, approaching ninety, grabing a handful of the dreariest, grey, mass-produced wiring and turning it into a flower.
  • Francis Jonckheere 4y

    good answer!
  • seier+seier 4y

    thanks, f.j.

    more on lewerentz and his friends - yes, he had those too - soon.
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