When approaching the Landsarkivet from the west on Skolgatan one can sense a confrontation brewing. A somewhat disconcerting mass fills the view terminating the axial procession of the street with only a single vertical slot as articulation. At this point one cannot comprehend its scale, purpose or logic. It is simply a monolith holding its ground, and its interplay with Carl Möller’s original archive building from 1904 is wrought with tension. While both buildings act as one, holding the corner of the street and serving to enclose a common space, the original wing is broken down with the usual moves that define scale and proportion to give evidence of occupation, while Nyberg creates a seemingly scaleless mass with no hint of its purpose or interior. Both structures kiss at glass panels broken by stair and elevator core concentrating all of the building’s articulation at a joint.
Nyberg’s work is that of the bunker. It is a stolid mass that represents no history, no style, or even a time period that can be clearly defined. It is an object of no immediate context, as if its origins are nowhere near as important as its function: to protect and enclose history. This is the architecture of flesh with an underbelly not meant for us to inhabit. It acts as an intentional ruin, where the individual bricks blend together to form one total and massive volume. The intended occupants were notes, words, passages, facts and figures; those that do not need a view. The Landsarkivet is the type of building that appears a ruin in its present state. The rough, vine-encrusted masonry illustrates the patina of a forty-plus-year battle with harsh Swedish winters to finally be defeated by economics and political expediency. The building is now pierced, its landscape uprooted and concept subverted, a point of contention covered in more detail in the essays that conclude this publication.
The original county archive, built around the turn of the century, was crowded and uncomfortable in its style of historical dress and far from archive-worthy. The need for rational and compact storage announces itself nowadays in the newly built magazine’s sparse window setting. The old magazine has come to life with other and more human innards. Previously two identical archive floors were crushed in behind the false architectural pomp of the façade. The ground floor houses all of the administration accommodation. The structural value of the frame of the old building came as a surprise to many of those who were involved in the project. Old and new finally meet round a freestanding tower for a staircase and lift.