Calling them skyscrapers would be a bit pretentious. They are just 72 metres or 18 storeys high. They do not have a revolutionary design and they are not breathtaking. So why are they so intriguing? Because they are musketeers in their soul. “It’s all for one and one for all.” These buildings come in a package of five or they don’t come at all. And there have curtains too.
The official name of this real estate complex is Hötorgsskraporna, which translates into scrapers or Höterget Buildings, but the people of Stockholm affectionately call them the five trumpet blasts.
Driven by renewal at the time, the authorities replaced an entire neighbourhood, destroying historical buildings and replacing them with modern ones. The idea to create “brother” buildings surged within the team. They just had to decide on the number.
Four was proposed. An indignant architect: “One offers a lady five roses, not four.” It was a powerful argument, since they finally settled on five.
When the Swedish architects presented the project to the municipal administration, the mayor’s assistant was carried away by emotion. “For me, this urban project evokes the creative power of Man and his belief in the future, five major chords, five trumpet blasts in a Handel score,” he said. Handel is a composer known for his use of brass instruments.
The five buildings were erected one after another between 1952 and 1966. Look closely at the façades of each building. They may seem like nothing to you, but this type of façade was not very widespread at the time. Each one is a curtain wall.
A curtain wall is a light covering that envelopes the building. According to Wikipedia, “the panels are supported storey by storey, on a fixed shell.”
For the five trumpet blasts of Stockholm, the “curtain” is made up of glass and aluminum panels fixed to the building shell.
The curtain wall has improved since then. And it appears the best is yet to come. Heating glass panels, variable light panels, self-cleaning panels. There is even the glass panel that kills the bacteria that dares come into contact with it.
Apart from glass, these pre-fabricated panels can be made of marble, stone, aluminum, ceramic, steel or other materials.
Originally, choosing a “curtain” to dress a building followed an aesthetic requirement. Over time, it has become more practical and suitable for high technology.
Back to our trumpets of Stockholm. As strange as it seems, there was an architect for each of the five buildings. Consequence: the five curtains would not be identical. Each architect left his own fold in the fabric, if we can say so.
Did you notice that the five buildings appear to be alone in the world? They are on land that is almost barren. No neighbouring building towers over them, which makes them look bigger despite their average size.
These buildings are not for residential purposes. They primarily contain offices.
French Wikipedia article on mur-rideau
English Wikipedia article on Höterget buildings
French Wikipedia article on Hötorgsskraporna
- Hotorgets Hoghus by day by Holger Ellgaard on English Wikipedia
- Hötorgsskraporna by night (its popular name) by Holger Ellgaard on French Wikipedia