Building and Tectonics Master´s Thesis 2020

Jacob Henell

“How can we materialize the values behind the judicial system into built form?”

“How should a courthouse communicate its identity to the city?”

Since the birth of the modern European city, institutions such as courthouses, prisons, hospitals and universities have been rhetorical instruments to express the democratic capacities of the state they serve. They are not only the means by which societies are regulated. But also important tools to convey the ambitions and values of the state that commission and build them. This master thesis seeks to understand and materialize the space in which the state practices its power – the district courthouse.

Prominent public institutions are often recognised by their ambiance and identity. Although the modern courthouse seem to have lost its identity though it still today is one of the most fundamental buildings in the city. The aim is to investigate and refine what constitutes the district courthouse. Architecture is used as a cultural practise to discover how we can pass down the typological heritage of courthouses in Sweden. The aim is to design a building that is recognisable but contemporary. In line with the chosen studio the proposal should fullfil all demands for a Swedish courthouse.

To understand and answer this question the architectural history of the Swedish district court have been researched. My interest has primarily been directed towards the 20th century and onwards. A period when the spatial conditions of courthouse architecture have been drastically affected by the introduction of modernism and alterations in the Swedish judicial system.

The methodology behind the thesis derives from Aldo Rossi’s concept of Analogue Architecture. By using analogies the aim is to create an architectural familiarity deriving from typology, site and local references. Spatial organisation, materiality and symbolism have therefore become means to relate to the buildings where justice have been practiced both past and present.