Stockholm Exhibition (1930)

The Stockholm Exhibition 1930 ( Swedish Stockholmsutställningen 1930) was a national exhibition of architecture, design and crafts in the signs of modernity in Stockholm. It was arranged under the direction of architect Gunnar Asplund, the Slöjdföreningen Svenska ( Swedish Association for craftsmanship ) and the city of Stockholm. It took place from 16th of May to 29th September 1930 for the exhibition came about four million visitors.


1928 Svenska Slöjdföreningen had (now Svensk Form ) suggested that a major exhibition in 1930 was to be held in Stockholm. They wanted to show what Europe and the U.S. already knew, namely modern arts and crafts, design and the products of the art industry. With government guarantees and the Director General of the Svenska Slöjdföreningen, the art historian Gregor Paulsson, the exhibition was to be realized. As an exhibition architect Le Corbusier was a short time in conversation, but he canceled for unknown reasons, architect Gunnar Asplund was committed to the task.

Modernity in Sweden in the 1930s

The breakthrough of modernism called in architecture and design, functionalism in Sweden came late and only with the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930 in other European countries new artistic currents of modernism in architecture and design had already delivered much acclaimed examples -. Thus developed, who lives in France Swiss Le Corbusier new concepts for residential buildings and urban planning. In the Soviet Union, the artistic avant-garde concept by Vladimir Tatlin and Malevich as a revolutionary current. In Germany, Walter Gropius had founded the Bauhaus in 1919, which tried to merge art and architecture.

The Swedish variant of modernism, in Gunnar Aplunds interpretation, was a bit softer and more forgiving than the uncompromising, radical left-wing ideas in other parts of Europe. In Sweden did not want to make the ideological, political question, the new architecture. The Swedes were looking for a compromise, and thought that modern architecture, be it ever so uncompromising, have to adapt the located city development and the needs of the people.


The exhibition took place in the southern Djurgården, right on Djurgårdsbrunnsviken. Gunnar Asplund, the chief architect, had designed an extremely simple exhibition halls, flooded with light and air. A few years earlier Asplund was still followers of the Swedish Klassiszismus the 1920s, also known as Swedish grace, now he avoided all the ornaments and decorations. He attained with this since hardly achieved simple elegance of his international breakthrough. In the evening the electric light was used as a means of architectural expression, both on land as well as on the water. The first time the visitors could Seen tubular steel furniture by Marcel Breuer's model. The young Bruno Mathsson from Värnamo thereof was so inspired that he, again at home, at once so began experimenting with furniture bentwood.

Swedish artists, craftsmen and companies displayed their latest products. The glassworks Orrefors had all the spring of 1930 worked to design new products for the exhibition. The result was, among other things, a series household glass in simple, geometric shapes, patterns and without frills, but also glass artworks by Edward Hald and Simon Gate.

The apartment unit was the heart of the exhibition. Through effective utilization of the existing resources, the prevailing housing shortage in Sweden should be overcome. Idealized types of housing that could be produced cheaply and efficiently, were shown. They wanted to create hygienic and bright apartments with plenty of space for all the family members.

The apartment unit was designed by the Swedish architect elite, including Sven Markelius, Paul Hedqvist, Nils Ahrbom, Helge Zimdal, Uno Åhrén, Albin Stark and Sigurd Lewerentz. There were apartments, homes and townhouses; everything was furnished by the new ideal, some visitors found the decor but rather "naked" and "cold".

The largest architectural eye-catcher was the high advertising tower, topped by Sigurd Lewerentz "<" -shaped wings. He had also designed the memorable exhibition poster, a three-dimensional " 1930" on a red background. From Lewerentz also came some of the buses, which were exhibited in the Hall of Transport and General Motors Nordiska AB had made ​​.

On the spacious exhibition area, visitors could view the new style ideal of functionalism with its industrially produced mass products. A novelty for Sweden was the hot dog stand, who sold hot sausages in buns that you could eat standing foot straight from the source. There was also a restaurant with the matching, pioneering name Paradiset, "Paradise ".

Pictures from the exhibition

Images from the Archives of Svensk Form, including three color photos of the legendary photographer Gustaf W. Cronquist (1878-1967)


It was not only the " uneducated " audience that criticized and the whole thing was too little and kept simple, the design elite was divided. The strongest critics was the renowned furniture designer and passionate supporter of the Swedish grace, Carl Malmsten, who protested against this " poor program ." In a letter to the exhibition management, he described the functionalism as a " ... slätstruken, importerad, anti- traditional style, Mekaniskt torr och på grundat falsk saklighet ... " (about " ... smooth, imported, anti- traditional style, mechanically dry and founded on a false objectivity ... ").


The buildings of the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930 were demolished, but the idea lived on in particular, should influence the Swedish housing many years to come. Then there were also political changes. 1931 took over the Social Democrats in Stockholm the power and in the following year in Sweden.

As early as 1931 realized an exhibition architect, Uno Åhrén, his living social ideas in the row of terraced houses in Norra Ängby in Bromma in Stockholm's suburbs Traneberg ( 1937-38 ) and Hammarbyhöjden (1938 ) apartments for large families were built. Vita staden " The White City " they were called, not only because of their bright facade colors, but mainly because of the neatness and cleanliness, according to the motto of the exhibition in Stockholm 1930. All houses had central heating, all apartments have a private bathroom with a toilet and running hot and cold water, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony. Large windows let light and air into the apartments, in the stairwell there was even a garbage chute and outside, in the open, a children's playground.

The functionalist ideas in building houses that were presented at the exhibition, found its application in the residential area Södra Ängby in Bromma. Södra Ängby consists of about 500 different single-family homes which have all been designed during the years 1933 to 1939 and built in the functionalist style, so Södra Ängby is now one of the largest preserved functionalist villa settlements in Europe. The settlement is protected by the so-called Riksintresse ( national interest for particularly valuable buildings ).

Literature and sources

  • C. Caldenby, O. Hultin et al: Asplund. Arkitektur Förlag, Stockholm, 1985, ISBN 91-86050-11-7.
  • Janne Ahlin: Sigurd Lewerentz, arkitekt. Byggförlaget, Stockholm, 1985, ISBN 91-85194-63-8.
  • Hedvig Hedqvist: 1900-2002, svensk form - Internationell design. Bokförlaget DN, Stockholm 2002, ISBN 91-7588-420-8.
  • Knaurs lexicon of modern architecture. Droemersche Publishing Company 1963.
  • Lena Ahlgren (ed. ): Bonnier Lexikon. Bonnier Lexikon AB, Stockholm 1997, ISBN 91-632-0056-2.
  • Stockholmshem (ed.): Stockholmshem 1937-1987. Byggförlaget, Stockholm, 1987, ISBN 91-85194-80-8.
  • Magnus C. Forsberg, Daniel A. Walser: Stockholm Exhibition 1930 ( PDF; 5.8 MB ), ETH Zurich, 1997.