Gunnar Asplund

Gothenburg Courthouse Extension

- Gothenburg - Sweden

By the beginning of the last century, the City Court and the borough administrators had outgrown the premises. Further expansion was necessary and in 1912 an architectural competition was announced. The winner was Gunnar Asplund with his proposal for an extension in classicist/baroque style. However, it took until 1934 before a decision was made to go through with the project. By then the original proposal had been amended several times and the style was now functionalist. The extension was completed in 1936. The facade is rendered and the internal walls are clad in wood. The interior is dominated by the large hall with its roof lights and glass walls facing the courtyard. In conjunction with the extension, the interior of the older Courthouse building was modernised. Gunnar Asplund was also commissioned to design furniture, lamps and fabrics for the extension. The Courthouse extension is regarded as one of Asplund’s foremost works and it is nowadays internationally renowned. However, it was far from an immediate success at the time – the people of Gothenburg were appalled by the functionalist style and criticism of the building persisted for many years. Today the extension is a source of pride for the city and in 1982 it was declared a listed building. The older part was listed back in 1968. The Courthouse reflects the architecture of three different eras.

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Photos: © Kalle Söderman

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