In Stockholm, there is silence. Outside the airport, the first of the five senses to become alert is hearing. The fast train slips away noiselessly until it hits the heart of the city. It is unusual to experience silence in urban surroundings by broad daylight. It is the norm for us to be isolated by earbuds and listening to music from our smartphone. Here, the lack of sound is accompanied by the equilibrium of shapes we see, a certain Nordic rigour in a city full of greenery.
Right on the bay stands one of Europe's oldest hotels, the prestigious Strand, built in 1912. The Swedish actress Greta Garbo used to stay here, as well as Brigitte Bardot, Ingrid Bergman and Frank Sinatra. It lies close to the Royal Theatre, between the medieval centre and the harbour.
The Swedish architecture office Wingårdhs just finished an overhaul of the interior. The hardest part was to create modern, contemporary surroundings in full respect of the structure and aesthetics of an early 20th-century building.
Speaking of aesthetics, the rooms are furnished with classic pieces of design that have a geometric appearance. They show sobriety and often a nice play of mirrors, with dark tones and much wood. Many rooms look out over the small bay of Nybroviken. The materials are precious, the fabrics soft, the colours meticulously chosen and diverse. The result is welcoming and relaxing, a setting that goes well with the surroundings and complements the city's silence. The challenge was to respect the distinct heritage of this site.
"Surprisingly, the hotel's history helped us, as did the client's request to give the restaurant and bar a complete facelift, with the aim of making them more frequented," says Leila Atlassi, one of the project architects at Wingårdhs.
The restaurant now features a variety of spaces. There is an intimate dining room with a starry sky made by lamps hanging at different heights in an inner court and multiplied by mirrors. Other more sociable areas offer a view of the bay, such as the dining room with bar.
"Technical difficulties were given by the fact that the original structure was hard to recognise. The architectural drawings had not been updated, so as the work proceeded, we adapted to what we found, marrying the ambition to make a boutique hotel with the huge scale of a 96-room building," Atlassi continues.
She does not consider the work to be merely interior design. "We constructed an inside building. We call it interior architecture, and it includes the choice of furniture, cushions and everything that composes the furnishing. Interior architects must respect the existing environment and the sense of the construction, so we aimed for something durable, not a concept that would need to be updated every three years. We try to make future classics, something that is not fixed in a temporal frame. We believe it is possible to establish a long-term relation with the guests through gracefulness. It's important to invest time and creativity in the initial design phase, in order to not have to rethink everything a short while later."
For the luxury Strand Hotel, which belongs to the Radisson Collection franchise, Wingårdhs used costly and durable materials such as Carrara marble, oak and walnut, "because they have a long lifespan during which they acquire beauty". Furniture includes pieces by B&B Italia, Cappellini ("good scouts for new talent"), Moroso and Prada. In addition, the restaurant is a gastronomic attraction.
A large selection of local specialties (excellent toast Skagen with whitefish roe), French wines (super Chablis) and international dishes. The lunch menu changes daily.
- The Strand, hotel del 1912