Jan Bočan Embassy in Stockholm
The Czechoslovak Embassy in Stockholm was one of the last built in the Brutalist style. It is again the work of Bočan, Rothbauer and Šrámek, with Jiří Náhlík. Designed in 1970, it was completed within two years. Conceptually, it builds on the success of the embassies in New Delhi and London. Architecturally, however, it differs. In Stockholm, the modular system was strictly adhered to.
Bočan observed: “Modulor 75/75/75 refers to a three-dimensional cube into which a chair can fit. It serves as a means by which structures can be made to correspond to human dimensions and feelings. Half the height of an average person, for example, would correspond to the height of a seat. This would then become the base unit, with the normal height of construction for a room being four times this size. Four is a magic number for me, dividing a square into other squares.
Although it wasn’t essential, we insisted on exploring these principles. Despite its diverse floorplan, our design for the embassy in Stockholm encoded these principles with its reinforced concrete walls and ceilings, reinforced concrete cassettes, gray and dark brown masonry and dark wooden floors. In many ways, it was the “classic” 1960s embassy (...) but the blocks are inserted glass boxes in an aluminum construction while the public areas have rough wooden frames embedded in wide wooden frames printed with graphic motifs of grasses or plants by Jiří John and Albín Brunovský.”
The building’s glass, concrete, metal and brick construction was complemented by light, curved or lamella furniture, which was also designed by Bočan and his team. To create the monumental armchairs, he commissioned Michael Thonet’s former factories in the Czech Republic – which operated during the 1970s as a state-owned enterprise under the name TON (Bent Furniture Factory) – to produce his designs using Thonet’s classic bentwood technique. Armchairs with reed upholstery and an organic design were complemented by a dining table based on the same principles and low tables made of bent plywood.
Today, the building in Stockholm no longer serves its original purpose as an embassy and, at the beginning of 2020, it was transformed into the headquarters of the Swedish fashion brand Acné Studios. Its reconstruction was overseen by creative director Jonny Johansson in collaboration with the architect Johannes Norlander.
Text by Adam Stech
Photography by AAke Lindman / Lindman Photography