My project of learning more about Stockholm’s buildings has rather taken a back seat since moving to Uppsala and the pandemic. But my enthusiasm has been whetted by sleeping in a flat directly opposite one of Stockholm’s architectural icons, Industricentralen, which is the first thing I see in the morning.

The architect, Ragnar Östberg was also responsible for Stockholm’s famous City Hall and the National Maritime Museum, both buildings reflecting Östberg’s resistance to the growing influence of functionalism and modernism in Sweden. Industricentralen with its honest brick and lack of decoration, is a couple of steps in that direction although Ragnar Östberg never fully embraced modernism.

It originally housed a number of industries inspired by German and American models (as was the brick). The industrial appearance is strictly protected although it now contains offices, and is popular for art galleries and architects (one called Aix architects which pleases me).

On the pavement outside the building, there is also a small statue “Arbetaren” (the worker), by Mikael Katz, given as artistic embellishment by the industrialists who developed the property. Mikael Katz was originally Russian and studied to become an architect in Kazan and St Petersburg before the revolution. I would like to find out more about his life from the time of the revolution until 1926 when he came to Sweden (and was here until the 1950s). In later life, he was active at the Art Academy in Sofia in Bulgaria and became Professor there in 1963, according to Wiki. The statue is very much in the spirit of socialist realism and has been copied at a couple of other locations in Sweden. It’s curious to think of the industrialists choosing just this statue as embellishment of their premises (I wouldn’t have been so surprised if it had been used to decorate a building used by the trade unions or social democrats).

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