Cathedral hill in Strangnas, Sweden | Соборный холм в Стренгнесе, Швеция

Competition, 2018

The Cathedral hill is characterised by a number of singular buildings that sit confidently within a beautifully informal landscape of mature trees. There is a distinctive spatial tension between the constituent elements and the broader canvas of the landscape that is both subtle and pregnant with potential. This is heightened by the object-like quality of the cathedral and the axial and sequential approach from the west. Our instinct is that this intensity of experience of this very particular landscape and the spatial progression suggested by the Tryckerihuset, Domkapitelhuset and low-key Domkyrkobodarna should be retained.

To the north-east edge this quality of the Cathedral Hill has become frayed; the confident landscape edge receding at the incursion of seemingly adhoc parking to create an ill defined urban condition; the Roggeborgen and Djäknegården no longer master the space around them. Our proposals seek to reinstate the Cathedral Hill landscape character as an identifiable entity and offer a renewed and coherent context that also benefits town of Strangnas.

Between these two different aspects and enjoying the changes in topography a new and unifying entrance building containing flexible reception and public spaces above ground, and ancillary spaces below. Loosely cruciform in plan, with a central 'core', a compact constellation of linked and generous rooms nestle between the retained existing mature trees. Each room can therefore enjoy different aspects as well as shared views across and between function and activities. The new building is independent and yet one arm reaches to lightly touch the Cathedral and provide a physical connection, in the manner of a medieval chapterhouse. Nonetheless the new building has such a weight and massing that it is independent and singular.

The interior of the cathedral accommodates the work and activities of many hands and minds in an additive composition and is, like a city, made up of architecture at many different scales. A new installation provides an infrastructure of considered interventions conceived as a necklace of independent little buildings expressing delight in their making and agency. The new elements, linked by a delicate filigree walkway and flexible screens, act as hosts for contemporary uses or discreet elements of circulation and storage for changing needs and activities.

The latent qualities in the layout of the Tryckerihuset and Domkapitelhuset are sustained with precise editing of the layout and in particular vertical circulation. A confident, yet discreet new four storey building adjacent to the Tryckerhuset provides flexible office space and a new vertical circulation for both buildings. Two further renewed and appropriately scaled elements of vertical circulation are added in the project. The first invigorates the heart of the Roggeborgen and the second links a new outward facing suite of public rooms to the existing Djäknegården auditorium and together help to sustain open and flexible facilities for the multiple actors across the Cathedral Hill.

View of the South aisle showing the flexible and acoustic screens accompanied by a 'little architecture' of storage. This provides an infrastructure for a variety of actors in the Cathedral

View across the flexible assembly and public function rooms on the first floor of the entrance building. The painted timber inside and out gives a warm character

View of the reception, cafe and flexible exhibition spaces. The language of the architecture is open and welcoming

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