10 Questions With… Gert Wingårdh

Blique by Nobis in Stockholm, designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.

Authenticity is what drives him, says Gert Wingårdh. One of the most recognized Swedish architects of the modern day, Wingårdh studied art history in the 1970s, before receiving a Masters in Architecture. After a short stint at architecture firm Olivegrens Arkitektkontor, he decided to follow his own vision, founding Wingårdhs in 1977. In the 1980s, a golf course propelled him to fame, with a rooftop tee-off among the more clever touches that earned him his first Kasper Salin Prize—a prestigious Swedish honor.



Today, Wingårdhs has three offices in Sweden, situated in Malmö, 
Gothenburg, and Stockholm—where the firm recently wrapped up two 
hotels. Unveiled this spring, Blique by Nobis's extensive 
hospitality rollout included two restaurants, flexible spaces for 
meetings and events, a courtyard, and a rooftop bar. Last year, the 
city’s historic waterfront Strand Hotel, which first opened in 1912, 
saw the final touches by Wingårdhs on a careful renovation. With 170 rooms, the Radisson Collection Strand Hotel, Stockholm now 
features a striking enclosed interior courtyard sprinkled with pendant 
lights—part of the hotel’s restaurant.

Wingårdh sat down with 
Wifijerez to share more on his recent projects, what 
book he calls his manifesto, and why he sometimes puts a glass of 
water on his head.




Wifijerez: We understand you just celebrated the opening of a 
new hotel in Stockholm.



Gert Wingårdh: Yes, Blique by Nobis is located on Gävlegatan, a street 
in central Stockholm, and occupies two buildings from different 
decades—a concrete warehouse designed by Swedish architect Sigurd 
Lewerentz in the 1930s and a newer office building designed by 
Alenius-Silverhielm-Åhlund in the 1990s. Together they have been 
transformed into an urban hotel. The concept is based on smaller, but 
still well-made hotel rooms and larger public areas for meetings—both planned and more informal ones. Our overall approach was to keep 
the roughness of the original buildings and combine it with refined 
interior additions, such as both stand-alone and built-in furniture.

ID: What was your overall design goal for your renovation of Strand Stockholm?



GW: The Strand reminded us of the glamour of the movie stars that 
lived and partied there in the first part of the 20th century. We 
wanted to peel off the layers that had been added over the years and 
bring back some of that sparkling glamour.

The Radisson Collection Strand Hotel, Stockholm, designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.



ID: What else have you completed recently?



GW: The renovation of the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm is a five-year-long 
commission that we are super proud of. The museum was re-opened to the 
public last fall. Nobis Hotel Copenhagen is another project 
finished last year. This is Nobis' first hotel abroad—located in the 
center of Copenhagen in a Neoclassical building that used to be an 
academy for music. It consists of two old buildings that have been 
bravely but carefully transformed, giving them new life and meaning.



The Swedish National Museum in Stockholm designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by Bruno Ehrs, courtesy of Wingårdhs.



ID: How has the hospitality market changed over the past 10 years?



GW: There’s a movement towards creating unique standalone brands—even if you are a large corporate hotel chain—to create diversity 
rather than conformity. That follows the established change that a 
hotel is now more than a place to stay overnight, it is also a meeting 
place and a work space.

ID: Is there a project in your history that you feel is particularly significant?



GW: A golf club right outside Gothenburg: Öijared Golfklubb at the Öijared Resort. I got my first Kasper Salin Prize for it [Sweden’s 
most prestigious architectural award] and in different ways it led to he commission of the new master plan for the headquarters of the 
pharmaceutical company Astra AB (AstraZeneca today) in Mölndal, Sweden. This project 
made my office grow and become strong despite the hard 1990s.

Öijared Golfklubbin in Floda, Sweden designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by Åke Eson Lindman,courtesy of Wingårdhs.





ID: In what kind of home do you live?



GW: I live in an old red cottage on the west coast of Sweden with my 
wife Karin. Every inch of this place is holy and truly valuable to me. 
My favorite place in our house is the room that we call the loggia. It’s a room that is partly connected to the main 
building, with two glazed walls and one open. In the center of the 
room there is a 23-foot-long wood plank dining table that Karin 
designed. This table will last for hundreds of years and is the center 
of our everyday life.

The room in his house that Wingårdh calls the loggia. The ?wood plank dining table is designed by Wingårdh’s wife, Karin. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.





ID: What influenced your design thinking during your formative years?



GW: Young people need a manifesto, and I found mine in Robert 
Venturi's "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture." For that I am happy, as I quickly learned from this book what I wanted 
to do and how I wanted to do it. To quote Venturi: "I prefer 
‘both-and’ to ‘either-or,’ black and white, and sometimes grey, to 
black and white...More is not less." 

Also I feel I should mention that my mother always wanted me to become 
a doctor, which naturally meant that I wanted anything but. There's a 
story in there somewhere.




ID: Is there a person in the industry that you particularly admire?



GW: Carlo Scarpa is the
most under-appreciated architect of the 20th century and a true role 
model.

Read more: 10 Questions With...Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu

Nobis Copenhagen designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.



ID: Is there a book you recommend?




GW: In addition to Robert Venturi's “Complexity and Contradiction in 
Architecture," one of my bibles that I already mentioned, a favorite book that is almost 
torn to pieces from use is "The Decisive Battles of the Western World 
and Their Influence Upon History" by J. F. C. Fuller and John Terraine.



ID: Do you have a secret you can share?



GW: I have a party trick that I use when I want to demonstrate what 
architecture is all about—namely keeping the water out. I put a cup 
of water above my head and encourage everyone else to do the same. 
Then I flip it over, and within a glimpse of an eye, the water enters 
the most unexpected places. Water always finds a way—that is the 
lesson.

Keep scrolling for more images of Gert Wingårdh's projects >

The Radisson Collection Strand Hotel, Stockholm, designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.

Gert Wingårdh’s home, designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.

Nobis Copenhagen designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.

The Swedish National Museum in Stockholm designed by Wingårdhs. Photography by André Pihl, courtesy of Wingårdhs.

Read more: 10 Questions With...Andreas Engesvik

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