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Sigurd Lewerentz: Architect of Death and Life

Floating dance floor, Stockholm Exhibition 1930. Architect: Sigurd Lewerentz. Illustration: Anders Hedberg. ArkDes collection.
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Skeppsholmen, Stockholm

Sigurd Lewerentz: Architect of Death and Life

Sigurd Lewerentz (1885–1975) is one of architectural history’s most revered and most mythologised architects. Sigurd Lewerentz: Architect of Death and Life is the first ever comprehensive exhibition of the life and work of the Swedish architect, drawing on ArkDes’ unique and complete collection of his drawings, personal archive and library. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the works of an architect who is perhaps even more influential today than he was in his own time.

It is Lewerentz’s late churches that have gripped the imagination of architects across the world, in particular the powerful, brick structures of St Mark’s in Björkhagen, Stockholm and St Peter’s in Klippan. These two profound works, completed in the 1950s and 60s, were famous in their time and remain spellbinding today. But the Lewerentz of these churches was an old man, and it was this lone, taciturn genius, with black overcoat and cigar in hand, that became the figure familiar to architectural history.

Four years of new research by ArkDes curator Johan Örn reveals a completely new picture of Lewerentz, moving away from the cliché of the uncompromising, lone maestro, and painting a picture of an artist constantly in tune with and adapting to his time, always collaborating and with a restless curiosity about the modern metropolis and its possibilities.

The exhibition, designed by Caruso St John ↗, displays the architect’s creative world: his early, lesser known designs for shops and commercial interiors; the landscape and chapel at the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm (now a UNESCO world heritage site); graphic design and architecture for the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930; industrial design for his manufacturing company IDESTA; and the built masterpieces of Malmö Eastern Cemetery, the Riksförsäkringsanstalten office building in Stockholm, Malmö Opera, Villa Edstrand in Falsterbo, and the two great churches. His production was wide and includes workers’ housing, villas, furniture, wallpapers, tombstones, city plans, factories, religious buildings, advertising, modern office buildings, hotels and shops.

  • Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
  • Proposal for a restaurant at Sturegatan, Stockholm. 1930. Sigurd Lewerentz. ArkDes collection.
  • Proposal for the extension of the PUB department store, pencil and watercolour on trace, ca. 1932. Sigurd Lewerentz. ArkDes collection.
Who was Sigurd Lewerentz?
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.

Relive the exhibition

Watch guided tours with the curators of the exhibition exploring each of the six rooms of the exhibition.

Virtual tour: room one
Virtual tour: room two
Virtual tour: room three
Virtual tour: room four
Virtual tour: room five
Virtual tour: room six

Watch a symposium

Relive a public symposium held at ArkDes in on the 23rd of August 2022 in connection to the exhibition.

Participants: Wilfried Wang, Caroline Constant, Matthew Hall, Karin Björkquist, Sven Blume, Carlotta Torricelli, Patrick Lynch, Eireen Schreurs, Caroline Voet with Kieran Long and Max Ahrent

00.00.07 Introduction and opening remarks by Kieran Long and Max Ahrent

00.07.24 i.e.
Speaker: Wilfried Wang

00.50.09 Lewerentz, landscape, and cemetery design
Speaker: Caroline Constant

01.31.10 Lewerentz: Fluctuations
Speaker: Matthew Hall

02.19.50-03.00.49 Lewerentz through the camera lens (panel discussion)
Speaker: Karin Björkquist and Sven Blume
Moderator: Max Ahrent

03.02.02 Anachronism as Avant-Garde. The Chapel of the Resurrection by Sigurd Lewerentz
Speaker: Carlotta Torricelli

03.46.09 Physic Realities: Sigurd Lewerentz and the Deep Time of Architecture
Speaker: Patrick Lynch

04.43.54 Actualising History. Retracing Lewerentz’s Sketches
Speaker: Caroline Voet

05.22.05 Closing remarks by Kieran Long

Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.
Photo: Johan Dehlin. 2021.


In connection to the exhibition ArkDes presents a major new biographical monograph – the life story of one of Sweden’s most important architects, and the first ever published with full access to Lewerentz’s archive in Stockholm.

Designed by award-winning graphic designer Malmsten Hellberg ↗, Sigurd Lewerentz: Architect of Death and Life contains 700 pages of analysis, drawings, models, photographs by Johan Dehlin ↗, plus excerpts from Lewerentz’s personal archive and library. The book is available in both English ↗ and Swedish ↗.

Main sponsor:


Curator: Kieran Long, Director
Expert researcher: Johan Örn, Curator of the Collections
Exhibition producer: Lena Landerberg, Head of Exhibition Production
Exhibition design: Caruso St John Architects
Graphic design: Malmsten Hellberg
Main partner: Marginalen Bank

Sigurd Lewerentz: Architect of Death and Life
First edition (2021) published by Park Books in collaboration with ArkDes
Eds. Kieran Long, Johan Örn
Co-ed. Mikael Andersson
Design: Malmsten Hellberg
Photography: Johan Dehlin