by Erik S
My name is Erik Sigge and I am an architectural historian and preservationist, currently halfway through my PhD studies in history and theory of architecture at the School of Architecture, KTH. Previously, I lived in New York and was Director of Educational and Cultural Programs at Scandinavia House in New York City, where I led the public programs of The American-Scandinavian Foundation. I have a master degree in Historic preservation from Columbia University, New York (2003) and a bachelor degree in Integrated conservation of the built environment from University of Gothenburg (2000).
My research project Architecture’s Red Tape is a critical study of changes of the role of the architect (roles of architects) in relationship to politics and governmental decision-making in Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s with specific focus on the work of the Swedish National Board of Public Building. During the larger part of the twentieth century, architecture was a field that was formed and grew in symbiosis with the Swedish welfare state. Modernist architecture became the symbol of pragmatic political leadership that had realistic plans for the future. Architecture and building construction was not only central for the physical expansion of the built environment, but also at the heart of a political conviction that building was the means to take command and control of social and economic issues, and stimulate industry and the labor market. Architects and politicians were in agreement on the importance of building construction for the development of a new modern country, but were they in agreement of the aims (ends) of architecture, and in the ways (means) of achieving good? This research project is a story of the shifting political concerns with architecture as means for developing the welfare state and how architects and architecture then relate to these matters, at large and in specific building projects. The study brings ideological and organizational aspects of architecture to the fore, and, as such, it argues that the comprehension of changes in the organization and functioning of a political-economic system are fundamental for the understanding of an architectural past.