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The Woodland Parliament

2018

 

The Swedish Riksdagshus (national parliament building) is in need of renovation and under the project title ‘The Parliament of the Future’ the Swedish govern­ment is currently preparing for a temporary relocation of the Riksdag while these repairs are being carried out. Concurrently, the year 2021 marked the 100-year anniversary of Swedish democracy, signifying an important juncture to review the current state of Swedish political culture and norms of governance. Apart from its symbolic significance, the Riksdagshus is a key instrument of political life that through its spatial configuration affect the conditions in which governance can be exercised. Thus, its architecture plays a significant role in shaping political practices, ideologies and a national identity. Titled The Woodland Parliament, the project proposes an alternative seat for the Swedish Riksdag, relocated from its current site in central Stockholm to the depths of the Royal National City Park forests at the fringes of the city, and discusses how a new Riksdagshus might reshape collective identities, democratic practices and citizen participation in Sweden. Placing environmental awareness at the centre of the architectural imagination the project uses the forest both as a physical landscape and as an abstract concept of place, to question the monumental manifestation of the current Parliament building as an appropriate expression for asserting Swedish political culture and national identity, and argues for a revived Swedish timber architecture that, once again, emanates from the primitive memories of the forest.

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In the forest things dissolve. They become dematerialised and fluid, or emerge as trolls. In Swedish the term 'tomt' also means 'site', and in Scandinavian folklore tomtar and trolls personify natural forces that lives in and are part of the forests. These are occult creatures that emerge in the darkness. The project draws from the work of the Swedish painter and illustrator John Bauer (1882-1918). Concerned with Swedish landscape, forests, mythology and fairy tales, his images captures how Swedes both associate themselves with the forest and, at the same time, are somewhat fearful of what hides within. Set against an architectural language of Op Art timber motifs, politics and fairytales play out at the Woodland Parliament amongst the potentially more sinister agendas in the forest

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Exploring the forest as a setting for the new Riksdagshus, the project takes the original layout of the current Riksdag, housed in impenetrable stone architectures, and fragments the spatial arrangement, merging the spaces for political activity with the natural landscape of the park. The forest itself thereby becomes part of the parliament and the building allowed to be used by both politicians, the public and the animals.

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All works © Elin Söderberg 2022.

Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Elin Söderberg.