Inspired by Kintsugi – the Japanese philosophy and art of repairing – the transformation of Uppsala Town Hall visibly repairs and restores the old old town hall while adding new qualities through modern building techniques and technology. Fifty-seven years after Uppsala Town Hall first opened, it is now finally fulfilling its original purpose. Uppsala Town Hall was recently awarded the Swedish Building of the Year 2022.
In collaboration with SLA and Tyréns, Henning Larsen has designed an extensive transformation and extension of the Swedish town hall for Uppsala Municipality Arenas and Properties north of the Swedish capital Stockholm. Like every architectural project, a transformation calls for a deep dive into the context to fully unfold the social, environmental, and historical conditions. But, in addition, it also includes an exciting exploration into the work of others, investigating the past through the built environment. The design of the newly inaugurated Uppsala Town Hall is no exception to this.
▼市政厅入口立面，Entrance facade of the Uppsala Town Hall
The late modernist design proposed by Erik and Tore Ahlsén had planned four five-story buildings congregating around a central outdoor courtyard. Construction, however, was met with financial struggles that concluded the project prematurely in 1964, and one of the buildings was not constructed in its entirety. As a result, an L-shape was formed and the envisioned courtyard remained undefined, eventually becoming quite a dull parking lot. Over the five decades that followed, the city tried several times to continue building, without success.
The unrealized plan meant that its intended function was never quite fulfilled. Uppsala City Hall never managed to accommodate all the municipal departments and offices as, over the decades, many of them dispersed throughout the city. Short of an assembly hall, the elected politicians would even gather periodically in the neighboring Concert Hall for discussions and meetings. In short, Uppsala’s City Hall never became the place it was intended to become.
In 2016, a team consisting of Henning Larsen, SLA, and Tyrens was selected to take on the challenge. Extending the existing architecture, that is the half-completed design of the Ahlsén brothers, the project now totals 25,000 m2 / 270,000 ft2.
▼立面细节，Facade detailed view
Past, Present and Future Come Together
The journey into the construction of the Ahlsén brothers’ unfinished building sparked the idea of using the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold, known as Kintsugi, as inspiration for connecting the original building with a new one. The town hall in Uppsala engages with the citizens. It invites the audience inside through a passageway that runs through the ground floor of the building forming the heart of the town hall. Here public services and programs such as a café, a restaurant, shops, and exhibition facilities are located.
▼设计示意 & 草图，Diagram & sketch
Now open to the public, the new building carries the legacy of the old but boasts 14,000 new square meters to finally house all the municipality’s activities. A 1,500 m2 indoor courtyard covered with a striking cantilevered dome-shaped glass roof, weighing 700 tons, offers an inclusive space for residents, municipality staff, and public officials to gather, and a sculptural building located within the courtyard in which the municipal council chambers and assembly hall are located, the building can now fully reflect the democratic values that drive the activities it is home to.
▼新建筑将市政会议室与大会堂同时纳入其中，The new building located within the courtyard accommodates the municipal council chambers and assembly hall
An inclusive space for residents, municipality staff, and public officials to gather
▼室内立面，Indoor facade view
▼一层平面图，Plan level 0
▼四层平面图，Plan level 03
Project: Transformation and extension of existing town hall
Place: Uppsala, Sweden
Size: 25,000 m2 / 270,000 ft2
Client: Uppsala Municipality Arenas and Properties
Sustainability: BREEAM-SE Excellence
Awards: Building of the Year 2022 by Swedish Byggindustrin
Architect: Henning Larsen
Photography: Einar Aslaksen