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Nobel Center competition, stage I >> A roundup of all 10 proposals

A place that engages, inspires and stimulates curiosity:

The building to celebrate the legacy of the Nobel Prize and to host the annual Ceremony is set to be completed by 2018.

Ten architects faced the complex task of developing a conceptual proposal for the architectural design of the Nobel Center. This task also included explaining how the Nobel Center will relate to the surrounding urban and marine setting on the Blasieholmen peninsula and at Nybroviken, an inlet of the Baltic Sea. The architects had an extensive competition brief to their aid, which describes the activities that will take place at the Nobel Center and the requirements imposed on the building and its various functions. The brief also describes the unique waterfront location in central Stockholm that the building will occupy and the necessary consideration of the surrounding institutions and environment.

A Room and a Half
Architect: Johan Celsing, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor (Sweden)

The Nobel Center at Blasieholmen will inject a vigorous new institution and add considerably to the ambience of the area around Nationalmuseum. The building for the Nobel Center is conceived as a clearly defined volume where the careful composition of the facades and the varied treatments of its materials aim to fuse a contemporary vitality of activities and usage with intense but realistic craftsmanship. While the volume of the building is compact the inside is different with voids and slits in the slabs that open up between the floors. Connecting spaces vertically through openings in the floors creates an interior landscape that may arouse curiosity as well as introduce unexpected natural light.

Architect: David Chipperfield and Christoph Felger, David Chipperfield Architects Berlin (Germany)

The exposed location on Blasieholmen next to the National Museum functions almost like a stage for the city, where manifold views to the city, but also manifold views from the city into the site are possible. The site is both part and not part of the city fabric. The placement of a compact volume in the north-eastern area of the site as a solitary building – a strong and clear identity for the new Nobel Building against the backdrop of the city fabric and the National Museum.

A P(a)lace to enjoy
Architect: Gert Wingårdh, Wingårdh Arkitektkontor (Sweden)

A home for glory, but most of all a venue that celebrates the open mind. The dynamics of the architecture, where the solid limestone plays with the openings – small and large – illustrates the dual character of the prize as well as of the dynamics of the urban setting of the building. From the transparent and open base, to the protruding top floor, the building is accessible in every aspect. The juxtaposed layers invite interpretation and curiosity but reject rigid pretentions.

Nobel Sphere
Architect: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA (Japan)

The Nobel Center, located at the Blasieholmsudden peninsula is a gathering of 6 soft sphere- like volumes of varying heights to reflect the undulating heights of the Stockholm skyline and surround waters. The spheres lightly nudge, stack, and intersect with one another leading to a collection of spaces with soft connections to all sides. The resulting volume is a unique, transparent, and light building, nestled in between the park, water and National Museum. Our proposal for the Nobel Center is to create an open public park which can be used during all seasons. We aim to create a place where people can casually visit to learn about the Nobel Laureates and their contributions, or to simply relax in the open and friendly environment. The Nobel Center is a temperate park with direct public access to the waterfront. During the summertime, the interior is shaded and naturally cooled to create comfortable and calm interior spaces, whereas in the cold dark winter months, the gently glowing spheres becomes a beacon in the city, providing pockets of large warm spaces as an escape from the harsh climate outside. During the Nobel Prize special ceremony, every December, the auditorium configures into one large space with spectacular panoramic views of Stockholm as a backdrop.

Architect: Bjarke Ingels, BIG Copenhagen / New York (Denmark)

Like a prism refracts light into a spectrum of its constituent colors, the Nobel Center displays and disperses the full spectrum of knowledge related to natural sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities. As a perimeter block with a courtyard, the Nobel Center parallels Blasieholmen’s urban fabric, thereby continuing the city to the tip of the peninsula. Meanwhile, it also stands as a public landmark in the park, completing the archipelago of waterfront museums with Nationalmuseum, Moderna Museet, and the Vasa Museum. The welcoming square establishes the Center as a place of arrival from the rest of the city. The Center’s building techniques, materials and technologies will stimulate curiosity and desire for knowledge in all visitors.

“We believe in…”
Architect: Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, Lacaton & Vassal Architectes (France)

“We believe in the capability of structure to engage activities and beings; to create society”. Our prime objective is to connect to the different environments and to integrate them into the architecture. The program is to be an icon. This evolving program will flourish within a versatile, generously-dimensioned structure whose layout, connection and modularity capacities mean it allows new situations to be imagined. This extremely spacious post-and-beam structure, devoid of solid walls, is a structure for freedom, a creative structure that will incite exchanges and surprises. Considering long-term use of this building, we design capable and changeable spaces over time and we integrate the unexpected future evolutions of use which often turn out to be desirable.

The Space Between
Architect: Kjetil Thorsen, Snøhetta (Norway)

Our proposal defines the identity of the new Nobel Center in terms of the interplay between the known and the unknown. The design therefore acts as a mediator where landscape and architecture work in unison to give visitors a new urban experience where choice and opportunity are central. The main mass of the building is located towards the city structure and houses the auditorium, conference facilities and staff areas. It’s counterpoint is a cantilevering structure springing from the quayside and out over Nybroviken. Exhibition areas, library, education and restaurant are located here. The link between the two volumes is a foyer at lower ground level and a raised space above, open to the sky. This is the space between, which is simultaneously both and neither, building and landscape, programmed and free. The same space forms part of an open public promenade that folds the quayside up and through the site.

Beyond 1210
Architect: Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf, OMA (The Netherlands)

The Nobel Foundation has thrived without its own building. Most of its components have survived in a state of improvisation, essentially ‘squatting’ in various part of the town, in ‘borrowed buildings’. As an added challenge, the Nobel Center needs to be an open, public building showcasing the accomplishments of Nobel and its Laureates, yet one day a year, it must accommodate an exclusive, prescribed and prestigious ceremony and its audience. We propose a small “castle” which brings together in one place the fiefdoms of the Nobel Foundations that were separate. The program for the Nobel Center is accommodated by a pair of buildings, one which reflects the past, and one which projects the innovation that characterizes the achievements of the Laureates themselves. That which is inevitably the building’s most important space – the stage upon which the ceremony takes place – is situated in a central void, and the Ceremonial setting can appear, disappear and reappear as needed.

Architect: Lene Tranberg, Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter (Denmark)

The architectural concept of the new Nobel Center reflects and interprets the ‘spirit of place’ present on Blasieholmen; arising from the site specific with a solid anchoring in the Nordic spirit; while at the same time interpreting the universal phenonmenons of the solid bedrock and the topography of landscape. In this way the architectural concept unifies the local as well as the global aspects – honoring the spirit of the Nobel organisation. Our aim is to create a building which articulates a powerful, outwardly focused, ‘cosmic’ architectural aura. Our vision is to collect these ideas in an architectural concept that possesses a certain monumental ceremony, as well as a unique, nature-inspired sculptural power – all while falling naturally into place on the site, supporting and enhancing the experience of city and harbor, and giving the site a new meaning as a social and cultural node in the city. Metaphorically, the landscape base is seen as a large, stratified stone formation in the park: The conical forms have varying proportions and are arranged so that they each emphasize the formations of the terrain and between themselves create a well defined and strongly varied sequence of spaces.

Architect: Kim Herforth Nielsen, Jan Ammundsen and Bo Boje Larsen, 3XN (Denmark)

Folding itself upwards, the Nobel Center can be interpreted as land-art. It becomes more than a building in the way that it encourages interaction through its permeability towards the waterfront promenade; extending the public realm into the building. Its rooftop landscape with remarkable views of the harbour invite people to experience Stockholm in an entirely unique way; and the Nobel Center’s two grand staircases provide areas for public enjoyment on the lower levels of the building bringing people closer to the water and the park. The Nobel Center is a modern building, but fits into the surroundings through its careful attention to elements such as height, volume and materiality. In particular, the building’s façade, pavements and texture work to establish a connection to the city’s warm palette of colour and materiality.


  1. A.Stockholmer says

    Alfred Nobel came up with the idea of using his money for these annual prizes after his brother, Ludvig, died in 1888 and a French newspaper mistakenly thought it had been Alfred Nobel himself who died.  The newspaper published the obituary under the title: “The Merchant of Death is Dead”, going on to state: “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
    Between 1865-1921 dynamite was manufactured at the Nobel factory at Vinterviken in the outskirts of Stockholm. Nobel also started weapon production after having bought the Bofors factory and changed the production.
    Working conditions were dangerous at Vinterviken, and in the early years of development, there were many explosions and deaths. As a result of hosting almost a century of industry, Vinterviken is in fact, fraught with highly contaminated soil. This grim and violent past has left it’s mark. Nobel is most often remembered for creating a safer product, and celebrated for his contribution towards the peace and other prizes, but lying beneath the surface is another kind of legacy, This is toxic terrain. There are at least 10 different metals in the soils, among the highest concentrations are lead, copper, zinc and arsenic – some concentrations reaching over 28X the Swedish legal hazardous waste limits. The provincial government states that :“Vinterviken has
    been included on the list of the county’s 10 most polluted areas.


    Now the Nobel The Nobel Foundation plans to build an enormous Nobel Center in Stockholm. The whole site has to be excavated (with dynamite ?) down to 9 meters and large masses of clay and stone has to be transported through the fragile inner part of Stockholm.

    The center will, if built, demolish a maritime heritage of great cultural and historical value; a customs house built in 1876 and two unique warehouses built in 1910 and totally change the scape in this fragile old part of the city. Clothing company H&M is sponsoring with 400 milj. SEK. The Customs House has great historical value as a representative of late-19th-century government and administrative buildings in general and of Stockholm’s customs services, in particular. The warehouses are unique in Stockholm, since there are no longer any similar warehouses remaining at the harbour of Stockholm. Maybe it would be better to spend money to clean up after the old Nobel factory than to destroy the historic port environment for good ?

    • iliwissin says

      I must admit I’m not very aware of the Nobel family’s dynamics. However, I can safely say that all scientific advancement is for the best.
      As for the new Nobel Center, I couldn’t agree more with your site proposal: redevelopment of the old production site would be a great way to give back to the community ( in the spirit of the Nobel Prize ) and to milk the institution’s history, making it a great marketing strategy as well.
      This said, they chose an a more glamorous path, both with the choice of the location and the architect:
      though a little anonymous in my opinion, the building looks good and surely Stockholm will benefit from it!


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