Part view of the wooden Swedish pavilion at Expo 2020, seen from below, blue sky in the background.
The Swedish pavilion at Expo 2020 is called 'The Forest' (no. 13 in the list). Photo: Johannes Edberg

Swedish architecture

Discover 25 excellent examples of Swedish architecture – from Turning Torso to Treehotel.

1. Old and new

Wingårdhs’ Aula Medica rises above the traditional cottage – Stenbrottet (the stone quarry) from 1771 – blending old and new Swedish architecture. It was completed in 2013 for the medical university Karolinska Institutet, which selects the Nobel Prize laureates in Medicine or Physiology.

2. Twisted skyscraper

Malmö’s Turning Torso, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is the world’s first twisting skyscraper and Scandinavia’s tallest tower at 190 metres. It celebrated its tenth birthday in 2015, and won the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's (CTBUH) ‘10 Year Award’ the same year.

Turning Torso, in Malmö's Western Harbour.

3. Moveable church

Gustav Wickman’s Kiruna church from 1912 has been voted Sweden’s most beloved building of all time. Due to extensive mining, it will be taken apart, moved and reconstructed in a new location along with the rest of the northern city of Kiruna in the forthcoming years.

4. The microscope

Europe’s most precise electron microscope – an instrument so sensitive to vibrations, sounds and electromagnetic fields that it needs a building of its own – is covered with titanium plates. It boldly stands out among offices and classrooms on the campus of Linköping University.

5. The micronation

Nimis, meaning ‘too much’ in Latin, is a controversial site-specific art installation started by Lars Vilks in 1980. Measuring 100 metres wide and with towers as high as 25 metres, it’s an impressive architectural playground in the heart of the fictive nation of Ladonia in the nature reserve of Kullaberg. A big part of it burnt down in 2016, but was rebuilt. Visitors can climb into and enter the buildings made of driftwood.

A supermodern geometrical building behind traditional Swedish red wooden houses in a park with green grass and trees, blue sky in the background.

The auditorium in Aula Medica, in Stockholm, seats 1,000 people. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se

The Kiruna Church, a wooden building with a separate bell tower, sits on a snow-clad slope.

Kiruna church is painted a traditional Swedish red and smells like tar. Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se

The Electron Microscope, aka Ångströmhuset, is located at Linköping University. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se

Wooden constructions that make up the Nimis artwork. The sea is in the background.

Nimis is part of the self-proclaimed micronation of Ladonia – with over 23,000 'citizens' from more than 100 countries. Photo: Thomas Olsson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Two women walking on a jetty towards a spectacular public sauna mae of resourced materials. It’s located by the water in a port.

This is Svettekôrka, ‘the sweat church’, in Gothenburg – not your average sauna. Photo: Marie Ullnert/imagebank.sweden.se

A supermodern geometrical building behind traditional Swedish red wooden houses in a park with green grass and trees, blue sky in the background.

The auditorium in Aula Medica, in Stockholm, seats 1,000 people. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se

The Kiruna Church, a wooden building with a separate bell tower, sits on a snow-clad slope.

Kiruna church is painted a traditional Swedish red and smells like tar. Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se

The Electron Microscope, aka Ångströmhuset, is located at Linköping University. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se

Wooden constructions that make up the Nimis artwork. The sea is in the background.

Nimis is part of the self-proclaimed micronation of Ladonia – with over 23,000 'citizens' from more than 100 countries. Photo: Thomas Olsson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Two women walking on a jetty towards a spectacular public sauna mae of resourced materials. It’s located by the water in a port.

This is Svettekôrka, ‘the sweat church’, in Gothenburg – not your average sauna. Photo: Marie Ullnert/imagebank.sweden.se

A supermodern geometrical building behind traditional Swedish red wooden houses in a park with green grass and trees, blue sky in the background.

The auditorium in Aula Medica, in Stockholm, seats 1,000 people. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se

The Kiruna Church, a wooden building with a separate bell tower, sits on a snow-clad slope.

Kiruna church is painted a traditional Swedish red and smells like tar. Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se

The Electron Microscope, aka Ångströmhuset, is located at Linköping University. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se

Wooden constructions that make up the Nimis artwork. The sea is in the background.

Nimis is part of the self-proclaimed micronation of Ladonia – with over 23,000 'citizens' from more than 100 countries. Photo: Thomas Olsson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Two women walking on a jetty towards a spectacular public sauna mae of resourced materials. It’s located by the water in a port.

This is Svettekôrka, ‘the sweat church’, in Gothenburg – not your average sauna. Photo: Marie Ullnert/imagebank.sweden.se

6. Recycled sauna

A new neighbourhood is being developed in Frihamnen in Gothenburg, and a sauna – Svettekôrka ('the sweat church')– became the first step. This spectacular yet unpretentious small-scale landmark was built using locally recycled material and locally sourced volunteers. Free of charge and available to the public, the sauna is built in a basin that is part of the river Göta älv. Architects: Jan Liesegang and Francesco Apuzzo from Berlin-based office Raumlabor.

7. Civic hall with flair

Sweden’s arguably most extravagant civic hall, Medborgarhuset, is located in the small, southern town of Eslöv. It was completed in 1957 by Hans Asplund as the young architect’s first major building. The materials for the deluxe civic hall were carefully chosen – without regard for either price or technique. Criticised at first, the material and aesthetic quality of the civic hall is nowadays considered a high watermark of detailed, expressive and spatially rich civic architecture.

A treehouse made of mirror glass, set in a snowy forest in Swedish Lapland.
The Mirrorcube is a 4 x 4 x 4-metre hideout camouflaged by mirror walls reflecting their surroundings. Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

8. Hotel among trees

The Mirrorcube is one of the half-dozen havens of contemporary architecture that is Treehotel, way up in Harads in the north of Sweden. Renowned Swedish architects Tham & Videgård, Cyrén & Cyrén, Inredningsgruppen and Sandell Sandberg have worked on the buildings.

9. The bridge

The Öresund Bridge – with a structure encompassing a tunnel and an artificial island – connects Sweden with Denmark and was designed by COWI. It's the world's longest cable-tied road and rail bridge, finished in August 1999. It won the IABSE Outstanding Structure Award in 2002.

10. Birch hut

Murman Arkitekter’s Restaurang Tusen, built in 2008 in the family-owned ski resort of Ramundberget, serves up local and Sami food. The building stands in harmony with nature and is made of birch – the only local tree that grows up to the altitude where the building is located. 

11: Ferry terminal buildings

Strömkajen’s ferry terminal buildings by Marge Arkitekter provide a gateway to the Stockholm archipelago. The terminals, in the form of cones constructed with squares of brass alloy, are scaled down to highlight the surrounding monumental edifices: the Royal Palace, Grand Hotel and National Art Gallery.

12. The Icehotel

The world’s first Icehotel lies in Jukkasjärvi, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, and was founded in 1989. New artists and ice experts create the rooms anew during eight weeks in October–December each year. The hotel, consisting of 1,000 tons of ice and 30,000 m³ of snice (snow and ice), takes three months to melt and return to Mother Nature every spring. One part of the icy hotel (Icehotel 365) is open all year round thanks to solar energy keeping the ice cool enough. 

Interior from the civic hall in Eslöv, with rounded shapes, a white ceiling and wooden walls.

Eslöv Civic Hall was inspired by the UN Building, which Hans Asplund – son of Sweden’s perhaps most famous architect, Gunnar Asplund – was working on at the time. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT

Aerial photo of the Öresund Bridge, surrounded by water.

The Öresund Bridge begins/ends in a rather dramatic way – from over water to under water. Photo: Jan Kofod Winther/Öresundsbron

Restaurant Tusen seen with its birch hut-looking exterior and modern interior.

Restaurang Tusen won first prize in the World Architecture Festival (Holiday category) in 2009. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

Modern-looking buildings clad in brass and mirrors.

Marge Arkitekter’s ferry terminal buildings in Stockholm reflect the buildings and water around them. Photo: Johan Fowelin/Marge

A room with a bed, all made of ice.

The Icehotel makes the cold cool. Photo: Asaf Kliger/Icehotel/imagebank.sweden.se

Interior from the civic hall in Eslöv, with rounded shapes, a white ceiling and wooden walls.

Eslöv Civic Hall was inspired by the UN Building, which Hans Asplund – son of Sweden’s perhaps most famous architect, Gunnar Asplund – was working on at the time. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT

Aerial photo of the Öresund Bridge, surrounded by water.

The Öresund Bridge begins/ends in a rather dramatic way – from over water to under water. Photo: Jan Kofod Winther/Öresundsbron

Restaurant Tusen seen with its birch hut-looking exterior and modern interior.

Restaurang Tusen won first prize in the World Architecture Festival (Holiday category) in 2009. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

Modern-looking buildings clad in brass and mirrors.

Marge Arkitekter’s ferry terminal buildings in Stockholm reflect the buildings and water around them. Photo: Johan Fowelin/Marge

A room with a bed, all made of ice.

The Icehotel makes the cold cool. Photo: Asaf Kliger/Icehotel/imagebank.sweden.se

Interior from the civic hall in Eslöv, with rounded shapes, a white ceiling and wooden walls.

Eslöv Civic Hall was inspired by the UN Building, which Hans Asplund – son of Sweden’s perhaps most famous architect, Gunnar Asplund – was working on at the time. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT

Aerial photo of the Öresund Bridge, surrounded by water.

The Öresund Bridge begins/ends in a rather dramatic way – from over water to under water. Photo: Jan Kofod Winther/Öresundsbron

Restaurant Tusen seen with its birch hut-looking exterior and modern interior.

Restaurang Tusen won first prize in the World Architecture Festival (Holiday category) in 2009. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

Modern-looking buildings clad in brass and mirrors.

Marge Arkitekter’s ferry terminal buildings in Stockholm reflect the buildings and water around them. Photo: Johan Fowelin/Marge

A room with a bed, all made of ice.

The Icehotel makes the cold cool. Photo: Asaf Kliger/Icehotel/imagebank.sweden.se

13. The forest

Featuring actual tree trunks and a forest-like atmosphere, the Swedish pavilion at the world expo in Dubai – Expo 2020– aims to recreate the feeling of a Swedish forest. 'The Forest' is an 18-metre tall building entirely made of wood from the Swedish province of Dalarna. It was designed by three teams from three countries: Alessandro Ripellino Arkitekter in Sweden, Studio Adrien Gardère in France and Luigi Pardo Architetti in Italy.

14. The mall

Emporia’s gigantic golden chasm, bold colours and bent sightlines break shopping centre conventions. It was built by Wingårdhs in 2012 and is part of an urban planning project – where offices, houses and retail come together in a mixed-use development integrated into the fabric of Malmö.

15. Concert hall

Uppsala Konsert & Kongress, designed by Henning Larsen Architects, opened in 2007. Its reflecting metallic facade, reminiscent of piano keys, is an important gathering point in the historical student town that is Uppsala.

16. The flower shop

Sigurd Lewerentz’s brutalist flower kiosk from 1969, by the Eastern cemetery (Östra kyrkogården) in Malmö, is a much-debated icon of Swedish architecture. The renowned architect’s most scaled down and extreme building, mostly based on squares and golden sections, still attracts architecture buffs from all over the world.

17. The ski hotel

Ralph Erskine’s Borgafjäll ski hotel (Hotell Borgafjäll), from 1950, is one of the famous architect’s most original projects. The surrounding climate has influenced the long sloped roofs that become part of the local Lapland landscape when covered in snow – and can even be used as a ski slope.

18. Visitor centre

Carmen Izquierdo is the architect behind the Cathedral Forum (Domkyrkoforum) the visitor centre at Lund Cathedral. The nearly thousand-year-old church receives about 700,000 visitors every year. The brass- and glass-clad visitor centre has an architectural lantern window that frames the cathedral like a painting when you look out through it. The building awarded Izquierdo the prestigious Kasper Salin Prize for outstanding architecture in 2012.

19. The Globe

The Avicii Arena (known as Globen) was in 2021 renamed in honour of late Swedish musician Avicii. It is the world’s largest spherical building and sticks up like a giant golf ball nestled between its residential surroundings. The arena, designed by Berg Arkitektkontor, opened in 1989, has a diameter of 110 metres and a ceiling height of 85 metres.

A exterior view of the Emporia shopping mall, with its strangely circular shape.

Emporia has won several architectural prizes. Photo: Susanne Nilsson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An exterior view of the Uppsala Konsert & Kongress building.

Uppsala Konsert & Kongress is one of Sweden’s foremost venues for concerts, congresses and conferences. Photo: Magnus Hörberg

An exterior view of Sigurd Lewerentz's brutalist flower kiosk.

Sigurd Lewerentz’s simple flower kiosk in Malmö was his final act of architecture. Photo: trevor.patt

Hotell Borgafjäll’s architecture is celebrated for responding to its particular site and conditions. Photo: Hotell Borgafjäll

A modern, square building in front of a traditional cathedral building.

The Cathedral Forum in Lund welcomes cathedral visitors. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

Part of the Globe building in Stockholm seen from the outside, with small spherical gondolas attached to it.

Visitors can travel around the Avicii Arena in two spherical glass gondolas and get an unobstructed view of Stockholm. Photo: Tommy Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Night-time view across the water to Stockholm City Hall.

Stockholm City Hall, home to the Nobel Prize Banquet, is one of Stockholm’s most famous silhouettes. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

A dramatic twilight sky over a long walking path leading from a wooden building.

Naturum Vattenriket lies in the middle of a biosphere reserve in Kristianstad. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

A courtyard with green plants inside a wooden building.

At the Trädgårdarna nursing home, large courtyards act as greenhouses. Poto: Johan Fowelin/Marge

A view onto the grassy areas of the Woodland Cemetary, through the pillars of a chapel.

The Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm is one of few examples of 20th-century architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

A small dome-like building made of glass, with an opening at the front.

The 25-metre deep Triangeln railway station is built as a rock cavern with a glass dome on top. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

A exterior view of the Emporia shopping mall, with its strangely circular shape.

Emporia has won several architectural prizes. Photo: Susanne Nilsson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An exterior view of the Uppsala Konsert & Kongress building.

Uppsala Konsert & Kongress is one of Sweden’s foremost venues for concerts, congresses and conferences. Photo: Magnus Hörberg

An exterior view of Sigurd Lewerentz's brutalist flower kiosk.

Sigurd Lewerentz’s simple flower kiosk in Malmö was his final act of architecture. Photo: trevor.patt

Hotell Borgafjäll’s architecture is celebrated for responding to its particular site and conditions. Photo: Hotell Borgafjäll

A modern, square building in front of a traditional cathedral building.

The Cathedral Forum in Lund welcomes cathedral visitors. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

Part of the Globe building in Stockholm seen from the outside, with small spherical gondolas attached to it.

Visitors can travel around the Avicii Arena in two spherical glass gondolas and get an unobstructed view of Stockholm. Photo: Tommy Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Night-time view across the water to Stockholm City Hall.

Stockholm City Hall, home to the Nobel Prize Banquet, is one of Stockholm’s most famous silhouettes. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

A dramatic twilight sky over a long walking path leading from a wooden building.

Naturum Vattenriket lies in the middle of a biosphere reserve in Kristianstad. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

A courtyard with green plants inside a wooden building.

At the Trädgårdarna nursing home, large courtyards act as greenhouses. Poto: Johan Fowelin/Marge

A view onto the grassy areas of the Woodland Cemetary, through the pillars of a chapel.

The Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm is one of few examples of 20th-century architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

A small dome-like building made of glass, with an opening at the front.

The 25-metre deep Triangeln railway station is built as a rock cavern with a glass dome on top. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

A exterior view of the Emporia shopping mall, with its strangely circular shape.

Emporia has won several architectural prizes. Photo: Susanne Nilsson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An exterior view of the Uppsala Konsert & Kongress building.

Uppsala Konsert & Kongress is one of Sweden’s foremost venues for concerts, congresses and conferences. Photo: Magnus Hörberg

An exterior view of Sigurd Lewerentz's brutalist flower kiosk.

Sigurd Lewerentz’s simple flower kiosk in Malmö was his final act of architecture. Photo: trevor.patt

Hotell Borgafjäll’s architecture is celebrated for responding to its particular site and conditions. Photo: Hotell Borgafjäll

A modern, square building in front of a traditional cathedral building.

The Cathedral Forum in Lund welcomes cathedral visitors. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

Part of the Globe building in Stockholm seen from the outside, with small spherical gondolas attached to it.

Visitors can travel around the Avicii Arena in two spherical glass gondolas and get an unobstructed view of Stockholm. Photo: Tommy Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Night-time view across the water to Stockholm City Hall.

Stockholm City Hall, home to the Nobel Prize Banquet, is one of Stockholm’s most famous silhouettes. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

A dramatic twilight sky over a long walking path leading from a wooden building.

Naturum Vattenriket lies in the middle of a biosphere reserve in Kristianstad. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

A courtyard with green plants inside a wooden building.

At the Trädgårdarna nursing home, large courtyards act as greenhouses. Poto: Johan Fowelin/Marge

A view onto the grassy areas of the Woodland Cemetary, through the pillars of a chapel.

The Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm is one of few examples of 20th-century architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

A small dome-like building made of glass, with an opening at the front.

The 25-metre deep Triangeln railway station is built as a rock cavern with a glass dome on top. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

20. Stockholm City Hall

Stockholm City Hall, Ragnar Östberg’s masterpiece of Swedish National Romanticism, was completed in 1923. A total of 365 steps lead up to its 106 metre tall bell tower, with a spire featuring the golden Three Crowns – Sweden’s national emblem. Since 2010, it has been accompanied on its eastern side by White Arkitekter’s sustainable Stockholm Waterfront building.

21. Nature centre

Naturum Vattenriket (roughly ‘the water realm visitor centre’) is situated in a wetlands reserve a five minute walk from the urban area of Kristianstad. The building acts as a reception between visitor and lakeside, while boardwalks offer the possibility to roam from city to nature and to explore the lake landscape from a variety of vertical perspectives. There are over thirty ‘naturums’ – visitor centres in nature reserves – in Sweden.

22. The nursing home

Trädgårdarna (‘the gardens’) is an nursing home in Örebro, a couple of hours west of Stockholm, that sets a new standard for future elderly care. The architect, Marge Arkitekter, has been praised for really incorporating the perspective of the elderly in the building. As a result, the facility has a home-like feel to it while being very functional.

23. The capital library

Stockholm City Library by Gunnar Asplund is famed for its round lending hall in the shape of a rotunda, with a ceiling height of 23 metres. Despite its relatively modest size, the building’s unique shape – a cylindrical central tower surrounded by three cubical wings – projects a monumental character.

24. The cemetery

A visit to the 100-hectare Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogården), designed from 1920 and onwards by Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz, is a tragic and sublime journey through a beautifully rolling landscape of subtle romanticism. It’s probably also the most magical place in the world to spend All Saints’ Day. Sadly, Asplund himself was the first to be buried in his Woodland Crematorium. The simple stone plaque reads ‘His work lives’. Indeed.

25. The railway station

With the Triangeln project in Malmö, engineer/architect/envirotech consultancy Sweco completed Sweden’s third busiest railway station six months early and 10 per cent under budget in 2010. Small on the outside, but spacious on the inside, it places an important role for the many Swedes and Danes who travel back and forth between the two countries.