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Gunnar Asplund

Gunnar Asplund

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Although a contemporary of Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, "Gunnar Asplund" pursued an architecture that does not fit easily into their view of Modernism as a movement that rejected the applied styles and ornamentation of the nineteenth century. Instead, Asplund was at ease with classical or vernacular elements blending with modernist ideals, and displayed a sensitive understanding of the relationship between architecture and its surrounding landscape.
His abilities are amply demonstrated in masterpieces like the Woodland Cemetery. In 1915 Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz won the competition to plan a new cemetery for Stockholm. Their romantic plan, in which a symbolically straight, narrow pathway abruptly curves blindly away into the forest, and with open fields capped by burial-mound-like hillocks, earned both of them further commissions for buildings within the cemetery. Asplund's Woodland Chapel of 1920 is tucked into the forest and uses classical elements such as Doric columns, but sparingly and in unusual ways, while manipulating scale in ways that further the spiritual and contemplative nature of the building. The Crematorium and Monument Hall of 1935 are dignified and powerful, unornamented but not austere, to offer comfort to those who use them.
The Gothenburg Law Courts, another critical work which was finally completed in 1937, shows how Asplund relates the architecture of Modernism to a historical plan and facade. Buildings such as the architect's own summer house at Stenn?s and the crematoria at Kviberg and Sk?vde, dating from the later part of his life when he had begun to embrace Modernism, still show traditional classical and vernacular influences and are evidence that not all forms of Modernism constituted a fresh start.
This will be a comprehensive monograph on Asplund and will include extensive new colour photography as well as many original drawings.