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Steel as Medium. Constructing WGC, aTallish Building in Postwar Sweden
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture.
2014 (English)In: EAHN 2014 corno: European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting Book Of Abstracts, 2014, S1.2- p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Between 1959–62 the Wenner-Gren Center in Stockholm was built to promote international cooperation in scientific research. It includes a 25-story tall building, where the steel frame, abandoned in Sweden since before the First World War, was reintroduced as a construction method. Reinforced concrete dominated the Swedish building industry in the post 1945 era.  Before constructing the high-rise, building-methods were discussed, evaluated and tested. During construction the building complex was reported in newspapers, described in trade magazines and mediated through a 15 minute long documentary. This puts into focus how aspects of the production of this building extend beyond what is usually thought of as the building site. My paper argues that the building project includes several sites of production where technical know-how, a new project process and the presence of the media created a space of possibility, within which steel was the medium.

The steel lattice truss relied on constructional knowledge from the 19th century. However, a building form that narrowed towards the top and a rhombic footprint challenged designers and contractors in matters of precision, statical calculations and prefabrication. The Wenner-Gren Center signifies a modern trend towards the use of highly skilled experts, dealing with new materials and processes, coping with the lack of norms, and with their own inexperience. This draws attention to the non-simultaneity of a project where construction takes place in different modes at several sites. Steel as a material caused architecture to make use of traditional building methods, such as welding while also implementing new methods of assembly. How do we understand the role of material within the frame of non-simultaneity?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. S1.2- p.
Keyword [en]
Steel, Methods of assembly, Non-simultaneity, Building sites
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-165435OAI: diva2:808386
European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting, Turin, June 19-21 2014

QC 20150504

Available from: 2015-04-28 Created: 2015-04-28 Last updated: 2015-05-04Bibliographically approved

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