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City hall information

On Gustaf Adolf’s Square, in the centre of Gothenburg, is the unique building “The Gothenburg Courthouse”. This building houses the city’s political leaders and their staff. The building is internationally renowned for one of a kind interior designed by the famous Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund.

History

The present Gothenburg Courthouse (“Rådhuset” in Swedish) is actually the third to be built on the same site on Gustaf Adolfs torg. The city’s governing body has been housed there ever since Gothenburg was first granted its charter and for some time the building served as both Courthouse and City Hall.

Asplund’s extension

By the beginning of the last century, the City Court and the borough administrators had outgrown the premises. Further expansion was necessary and in 1912 an architectural competition was announced. The winner was Gunnar Asplund with his proposal for an extension in classicist/baroque style. However, it took until 1934 before a decision was made to go through with the project. By then the original proposal had been amended several times and the style was now functionalist. The extension was completed in 1936. The facade is rendered and the internal walls are clad in wood. The interior is dominated by the large hall with its roof lights and glass walls facing the courtyard. In conjunction with the extension, the interior of the older Courthouse building was modernised. Gunnar Asplund was also commissioned to design furniture, lamps and fabrics for the extension.

The Courthouse extension is regarded as one of Asplund’s foremost works and it is nowadays internationally renowned.

Redevelopment

In 2010, Gothenburg District Court moved to the newly constructed Judicial Centre on Ullevigatan. In 2012, extensive renovation and redevelopment of the Courthouse commenced to house the city’s political leaders. The vision was to bring about greater transparency and accessibility. As the Gothenburg Courthouse is a listed building, the work required meticulous preparation and considerable care in its execution. Existing materials have acquired a new luster and worn parts have been replaced. Rooms with significant cultural and historical value, and which are subject to a preservation order, have been adapted using modern technology. In the areas where changes were more accepted, new rooms were created and working environments were designed to satisfy modern-day requirements.

Everything has taken place in consultation with the County Administrative Board and the City Planning Office. Wood and stone restorers are just some of the specialists who have been involved. Selected fittings and Asplund’s original furniture have also been inspected and restored.

A great deal of work has been devoted to research in order to reinstate the colour of the facade of the extension as envisaged by Gunnar Asplund. On the older part, certain natural stone features were painted during previous renovations. These have now been restored and the facade has been painted to harmonise with the extension as Asplund had originally intended. The redevelopment was completed in the beginning of 2014.

The Gothenburg Courthouse is owned and managed by Higab, a property company within the City of Gothenburg. Higab has approximately 300 buildings, ranging from buildings of historical and cultural importance to sports arenas and market halls.

Photo: Hans Wretling