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ArkDes’ Bernt Nyberg collection in A+U

Professor of Architecture Matthew Hall was the guest editor of the latest issue of the architectural journal A+U (Architecture and Urbanism). He devoted the entire journal to Bernt Nyberg. Much of the material used for the in-depth portrait of the Swedish architect has come from ArkDes’ collections.

“The majority of the Nyberg office drawings and documents reside at ArkDes. Having access to these led to many discoveries and connections between my interviews with Nyberg’s collaborators and the materials. It is also interesting to note that many of the collaborative works of Nyberg and Lewerentz cross their respective collections. I learned a great deal about Lewerentz through the Nyberg materials at ArkDes and it is amazing that anyone can visit and view drawings in such an open atmosphere. The collaboration with ArkDes on this project was imperative to the success of the research,” says Matthew Hall, Professor at Auburn University College of Architecture.

Most people have not heard of architect Bernt Nyberg (1927-1978) but his buildings have make a great impression. Two of his most famous works are the funeral chapel in Höör and the extension of Landsarkivet in Lund from 1971. The latter is considered to be unique because of its neo-brutalism expression and its combination of modernism and older architecture. Despite protests, the building has now been turned into student accommodation.

“While Nyberg’s funeral chapel in Hoor is his most celebrated work the lessons learned and ideas explored in the archive addition are arguably more pure and conceptually clever.”

The research has been in progress for five years. It has consisted of interviews with earlier colleagues, a review of images, documentation and archive material. Matthew Hall’s research on Bernt Nyberg has gone via Sigurd Lewerentz. This is no surprise since Lewerentz was one of Nyberg’s primary sources of inspiration.

“These architects are special because they take time to fully appreciate, and with age the work becomes even richer. Also, Lewerentz was a silent architect – what we know of him either comes from others’ writings, or direct interaction with the work. Nyberg is a relatively unknown architect, so a search for explanation coupled with my curiosity necessitated investigation.”

The first meeting between Nyberg and Lewerentz was during the building of Sankt Petri church in Klippan where Nyberg documented the building process through films and interviews. They developed a close relationship and worked together on several projects during Lewerentz’s last year of life. Their work processes were as different as their personalities but they shared the same respect for the expression of the material and made use of details in the same way.

“Constantly by Lewerentz’s side, Nyberg assisted with organizing Lewerentz’s work for the archive and it is clear that Lewerentz’s balance or pragmatics and poetry was influential to Nyberg. This influence went both ways as their collaborative work shows traces of both the architects’ tendencies.”