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Gert_Wingårdh

Gert Wingårdh

Gert Wingårdh is Sweden's best-known living architect, and has had a major influence on the Swedish architectural scene. His practice's main office is in Gothenburg, with a second office in Stockholm.

Personal life

Gert Wingårdh was born 1951 into a wealthy family in Skövde, Västergötland county, as the only child. His father owned the local cement factory and the family’s house was built on a limestone mountain. Both cement and limestone are materials Wingårdh later has used in his work.

When Wingårdh was ten the family moved to Gothenburg. After moving to Gothenburg he was bullied by other children for a while. As a teenager he took interest in art and cinema.

Wingårdh still lives in metropolitan Gothenburg, near Marstrand in Kungälv Municipality with his family.

Education

Wingårdh studied echonomics, art history and architecture in the 1970s at Gothenburg University and Chalmers University of Technology, and has in interviews stated that it was a visit to the Pantheon, Rome, that made him decide to become an architect. Before deciding to become an architect he had plans to be an art-gallery owner. He received his degree in architecture from Chalmers in 1975.

Career

Gert Wingårdh started as an interior decorator in the 1970s. After graduating he joined an architectural firm for a short while before setting up his own office in 1977. He had his big breakthrough as a regular architect with the Öijared Executive Country Club outside Gothenburg in 1988. The building rendered him a Kasper Salin Prize. He has had a number of assignments in the United States and Germany in recent years. Wingårdh is also the creator of the Swedish embassies in Washington and Berlin. Most of his realized buildings, however, can be found in Sweden and in particular in the area of metropolitan Gothenburg. In 2007 Wingårdh won a major international competition for a large new shopping centre in Malmö, and in the same year seven of the twelve hottest architecture projects in the capital Stockholm – listed by a Swedish national daily – was designed by Wingårdh.

Another project worth mentioning is a spectacular conference centre in Östersund, Jämtland, on the top of a mountain, called Breath of Life.

Because of his skills, his way of constantly attract the media attention and the many prizes he has received, he is generally considered the most renowned living Swedish architect. His role as a public figure is not without controversy, though. He has for example been known to be an advocate of skyscrapers which has made him a subject of critique from some (Swedish) colleagues.

In 2007 Gert Wingårdh was appointed adjunct professor in building design at the architecture faculty at Chalmers .

The Wingårdh office has 120 employees (2007). He usually stresses that the buildings is a team work of the whole office.

Architectural style

Gert Wingårdh started as a Postmodernist in the 1980s, as one of the architects who broke away from the strong Functionalist (International style) norm that held sway over Scandinavia longer than in other countries.

He is known to pick up new trends in architecture quickly and interpret them with a personal expressive language which intergrates the surrounding landscapes into the projects: "His buildings do not stubbornly adhere to one style but are a response to the task in hand and the surrounding environmental conditions. Swedens [sic] rich tradition of building with wood and a strong ecological awareness are combined with high tech expertise".

Wingårdh has himself described his architecture as ”high organic”, combining high tech with organic architecture. He has also been described as a ”maximalist” rather than a ”minimalist”, his buildings being ”a kind of modern baroque”. He has shown influences from and kinship with such different architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Hans Scharoun, Carlo Scarpa, Frank Gehry and Peter Zumthor. Another – paradoxical – description states that his buildings are both ”playful” and ”strict”.

A feature of Wingårdh's is to surprise the visitors of the buildings – keeping the entrance of a building low and then ”heighten the sense of space and drama when entering the main rooms”. He also has a good knowledge of details as well as an understanding of intricate building structures which requires good knowledge of sociological processes and human behaviour.

Awards

His building for the Öijared Executive Country Club, Lerum, was awarded the Kasper Salin Prize in 1988, and the Astra Zeneca R&D Site, Mölndal, was awarded the same prize in 1993. He received the ECSN European Award for Excellence in Concrete in 2002 for the Arlanda air traffic control tower. Other buildings include the Universeum Science Centre, Gothenburg (2001), and the auditorium and Student Union at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg (2001), the latter also received the Kaspar Salin Prize. And in 2006 the Aranäs Senior High School in Kungsbacka was awarded the same prestigious prize.

In 2006 Wingårdh also was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award for Mimer's house in Kungälv. House of Sweden was awarded the American Architecture Awards by the Chicago Athenaeum 2007.

The Washington embassy also received the Kasper Salin Prize 2007, making it Wingårdh's fifth Kasper Salin Prize – which place him in a league of his own among Swedish architects.

Influences on architecture

This is too early to say, but Gert Wingårdh has definitely had an impact on the domestic architect scene in Sweden; by his personality and awarded projects he has shown that a Swede could have "starchitect" qualities - the country's contributions up to this date to the international scene has been rather modest, with a few exceptions such as Gunnar Asplund and Ralph Erskine.

See also

Notes and references

Selected books about Gert Wingårdh

  • Gert Wingårdh, architect, by Rasmus Waern (Birkhäuser Publishers for Architecture, 2001)
  • Nordic by Nature, by Stefan Ostrowski (Natur & Kultur, 2001)
  • Gert Wingårdh; Thirty Years of Architecture, Mikael Nanfeldt (ed.) (Birkhäuser Publishers for Architecture, 2008)
  • Crucial Words. Conditions for Contemporary Architecture, Gert Wingårdh and Rasmus Waern (ed.) (Birkhäuser Publishers for Architecture, 2008)

External links

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