Left: The exterior rotunda of the Stockholm Public Library (Stadsbiblioteket) by Erik Gunnar Asplund. © G. Löwendahl, 1938 (PDM 1.0 DEED, ArkDes Archive, Asplund Collection, ARKM.1962-101-0843). Right: The interior rotunda of the Stockholm Public Library (Stadsbiblioteket) by Erik Gunnar Asplund. © P. Fleming, 2014.
Recovering the Historical Construction and Materials of Erik Gunnar Asplund’s Stockholm Public Library






Asplund, architecture, heritage, renovation, ground-penetrating radar


This work presents the first detailed study of the construction and materials of the Stockholm Public Library. As the building undergoes a rare period of maintenance and renovation, the floors and walls of the library are examined from three perspectives. First, using available but limited archival documents and plans; second, with non-destructive ground-penetrating radar measurements; and finally, through on-site surveys during local interventions for the maintenance and renovation process. The ensuing results emphasize the complementary nature of this combined research approach in recovering lost or forgotten construction details and further reveal several important findings. In the case of the unique wall finishing of the library’s rotunda, multiple layers of lime mortar, each varying in thickness and coarseness, were used to build up and craft the relief-like interior wall surface. With the use of in-situ aerated concrete and prefabricated Solomite panels in the library’s 1931–32 floor construction, a material connection between Asplund and the broader modern movement in architecture is further highlighted. At first glance, these construction-related findings seem to reinforce the common architectural narrative of the library as a transitional project between neoclassicism and modernism. At the same time, however, the library’s separate periods of construction of 1925–28 and 1931–32 and their distinct materials can be seen as a continuity of construction culture, with the innovative use of local raw materials related to the Swedish landscape.

How to Cite

Fleming, P., Mill, P., Rovira Torres, M., & Bergström, A. (2024). Recovering the Historical Construction and Materials of Erik Gunnar Asplund’s Stockholm Public Library. Docomomo Journal, (71), 13–23. https://doi.org/10.52200/docomomo.71.03




Author Biographies

Patrick Fleming, ETH Zurich

studied sound and vibration engineering in Canada and completed his doctoral studies in architecture at the University of Cambridge, UK. He worked as an engineer for more than three years with Conzett Bronzini Partner AG in Chur, Switzerland, and currently holds an Ambizione Research Grant at ETH Zurich, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Petronella Mill

is a practicing architect and researcher in architecture and building construction. She studied at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm and holds a Master of Architecture degree from ETH Zurich. Alongside practicing as an architect at Atelier Peter Zumthor, she is a research assistant with Patrick Fleming at ETH Zurich, focusing on measurement methods of historical construction.

Marcelo Rovira Torres

is a practicing architect and a researcher within the fields of architectural history and theory. He studied at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, ETH Zurich, and obtained his Master’s degree from EPF-Lausanne. He currently works as a lecturer in architecture at KTH and has been a research fellow at ArkDes – Sweden’s National Centre for Architecture and Design.

Anders Bergström

was trained as an architect, and completed his doctoral studies at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. He holds a position as Associate Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at KTH, and has directed a research project on the background, completion, and reception of the Stockholm Public Library, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.


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