Theodor Wåhlin - Arkitekten och restaureringskonsten. En yrkesbiografi
The aim of this doctoral thesis is to make a contribution to the architect’s profession in Sweden by focusing on the life and the
work of Theodor Wåhlin (1864–1948)
The dissertation provides a deeper understanding of the part of an architect’s work that concerns the restoration of historic
buildings by investigating, in biographical form, the career of one architect and thus also shedding light on the art of restoration
in its practical application.
Theodor Wåhlin was active in Scania from the 1890s. He designed a number of secular buildings, chiefly in Malmö and
Lund, but he is best known for his many church restorations. At the start of the 20th century Theodor Wåhlin was influential in
the art of church restoration, hence the subtitle of the dissertation: The Architect and the Art of Restoration.
Questions asked in this thesis are the following:
– What motivated Wåhlin when he struggled to save a medieval church from demolition or from excessive and destructive
– How did Wåhlin act in his different roles as consultant restoration architect, state architect, and antiquarian inspector,
and what were his relations like with the clients and the authorities?
– How did Wåhlin document, research, and interpret a church in preparation for a restoration?
– How did Wåhlin produce his job descriptions and how did he act in the implementation phase?
For a creative architect to have the courage and ability to change while simultaneously endeavouring to preserve valuable cultural
history was and is the dilemma and challenge for a restoration architect. This requires boldness, self-confidence, and independence,
combined with a good deal of stubbornness and – of course – professional skill. Theodor Wåhlin had all this. He
worked in a modern way as an innovative architect in the service of cultural history. Wåhlin has left us restorations of high architectural
quality with harmoniously designed spaces and well-adapted additions. His restorations are of historic value and
should be treated with care. In the same way, it is important to nourish the occupational skills that his restorations have left for
The dissertation makes a picture of Wåhlin’s career as a church restorer in Scania. His work is a concrete illustration of the
ideas about restoration prevailing at the time, and the study provides new knowledge about the way issues of church restoration
were handled in the early 20th century. The dissertation can thereby contribute to a greater understanding of the interventions
that were undertaken, and may perhaps prevent unnecessary and insensitive alterations to the churches of Scania in the future.
The dissertation shows that a restoration must be carried out with solid professional skill in the art of mastering and weighing
up a great many complex facts, using them as a basis for creating a harmonious and balanced architectural whole. The professional
biography of Theodor Wåhlin sheds light on the various demands that existed, demonstrating how the architect used
his professionalism and competence to solve the problems that arose.
art of restoration