Hakon Ahlberg | Sweden

Medal Awarded: 1973

Jury 1973

Alvar Aalto, Finland
Aarno Ruusuvuori, Finland
Kirmo Mikkola, Finland
Kjell Lund, Norway
Sir Lesley Martin, Britain

“Through his high-quality, balanced architecture, Hakon Ahlberg has emerged as a prominent representative of Scandinavian architecture on the international scene. His work combines form and high quality in a balanced way. His multi-faceted output spans most of the design field, and in an exemplary way brings together the demands of the various areas and functions of society into a balanced whole. It is also characteristic of his work that it strongly takes into account mankind and the environment.” An excerpt from the statement of the jury 1973.

  • Brännkyrka Parish. Stockholm / Sweden 1920.

Hakon Ahlberg (1891–1984)

During his long career, Hakon Ahlberg designed churches, museums, schools, residential buildings and hospitals. During his career, he also served in organisational posts for a number of years, actively took part in architectural debates and wrote dozens of articles on Swedish architecture.

Born in 1891 in Laholm, Sweden, Ahlberg graduated as an architect in 1914 from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and established his own office in 1917. He served as editor-in-chief of the journal Arkitektur in 1921–1922 before going on to establish and edit the journal Byggmästaren. He was editor-in-chief there until 1924. Ahlberg was selected as president of the Swedish Association of Architects (SA), serving until 1935. Ahlberg co-founded the National Association of Swedish Architects (SAR, now Architects Sweden), serving as its first president from 1936 to 1945 and as the Nordic representative at the International Union of Architects (UIA) in 1951–1954 and again in 1958–1963.

Ahlberg’s building designs cannot be said to represent any single style. Rather, his output shows direct expressions of classicist and functionalist design language, but also of National Romanticism. Particularly his ecclesiastical buildings, such as the Malmberget Church from 1945, show an approach that draws on national traditions. Ahlberg’s other ecclesiastical buildings include the Mälarhöjden and Sköndal churches, both completed in 1929. His last church commission was the Vilunda Church, completed in 1974. Also attesting to Ahlberg’s historically-informed view of the Swedish architectural tradition was his post as chief architect of Gripsholm Castle from 1933 to 1970.

While working as architect at the National Board of Health between 1935 and 1954, Ahlberg designed many medical buildings. These included, for instance, the Sidsjö mental hospital which opened near Sundsvall in 1944 and the Women’s Clinic at Sabbatsberg Hospital in Stockholm, completed in 1948. Ahlberg’s projects outside Sweden include the University Hospital buildings in Maracaibo, Venezuela, designed in 1946-54, and the municipal Children’s Clinic in Oslo, completed in 1950.

Ahlberg’s other work includes the neo-classical Arts and Craft Pavilion for the Gothenburg World Exposition of 1923, the Paul U. Bergström department store in Stockholm’s Södermalm district (1924), the Hjorthagen housing complex in Stockholm (1934), the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden in Gothenburg (1945–1948), the city mortgage fund building in Stockholm (1955) and the Dalarna Museum in Falun (1960).

Ahlberg’s architectural office, which had been in operation since 1917, closed in 1973. That year, he became the second recipient of the Alvar Aalto Medal after Aalto himself. The medal was presented

© Alvar-Aalto Medal 2019