"Utopias Are for Those Who Cannot Build": The Structural Philosophy of the Swedish National Board of Building
Journal article, 2018

Structuralism in architecture was a widespread international phenomenon in the post-war decades. It was an avant-garde architecture, in many cases even utopian. In contrast to this, the structural philosophy of the Swedish National Board of Building was outspokenly pragmatic. This article, based on documents and interviews with the architects involved, gives the background of the National Board's interest in the chronological dimension of architecture. The National Board was the largest client in Sweden for design and building and experienced managers of a large building stock. In the mid-1960s, they developed, in cooperation with consultants, a building box for office buildings. They gladly showed a lack of interest or downright scepticism towards international structuralism: Utopias are for those who cannot build. Two of the main involved practices were A4 and ELLT, later merged into Coordinator architects, and from early on focused on an architecture of change. Two of their iconic projects from the late 1960s are the large office block Garnisonen and IBM Nordic Education Center. They are examples of a consequence architecture, very clearly ideas based. For a period around 1970 the pragmatic theory led to radical projects. Dogmatic theorising was part of the game as it was said about contemporary art.

ELLT architects

coordinator architects

the Swedish National Board of Building



A4 architects


Claes Caldenby

Research - Architectural Theory and Method


2076-0752 (ISSN)

Vol. 7 4 73

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering



Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)



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