- The Swedish National Bank resided at Järntorget square in Stockholm for over 225 years.
- A bridge connects the two Bank Houses at Järntorget square.
- Rare black granite from Göinge covers the façade of the modern Bank House.
- There is a swimming pool, gym, sports hall and a sauna on the top floor of the Bank House.
While in the previous post I covered the story of the oldest central bank in the world, the Swedish National Bank (Sveriges Riksbank), in this post, we look in detail at the buildings in which the organisation has resided over the five centuries of its existence.
After the bank was established, it was located in a modest facility at Storkyrkobrinken which was not designed for this purpose. First, in 1680, it received its first official building that is today known as the Southern Bank House (Södra Bankohuset). The Bank House at Järntorget (‘Iron Square’) is a work of three of the most renowned architects Stockholm has ever seen, Nicodemus Tessin the Older, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger and Carl Hårleman.
The oldest part of the building was constructed during the 1670s, but the final looks were achieved through several additions in the next few decades. Tessin the Older, who designed the oldest part of the house, found inspiration in Italian houses and among the most notable elements of his design was the spiral staircase which, while visually appealing, was not very practical.
As the operations of the bank were growing rapidly at the end of the 17th century, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger was appointed to draw an extension to the existing building. Apart from extending the space available to the bank, the main requirements of this reconstruction were a better connection between the floors and improved protection against fire since large quantities of banknotes, securities, and etc. were stored directly in the Bank House.
Through the execution of Tessin’s proposal, the bank received two additional wings and its own yard between the buildings. However, soon enough, the available facilities were not able to accommodate all of the bank’s needs and the second reconstruction was planned.
This time, it was Carl Hårleman, the man also responsible for the reconstruction of the Åkeshov Castle, who was tasked with designing a new three-floor building in the eastern part of the property. When the walls of the building stood in place, the bank officials decided to have two additional floors and an attic built. This way, the new building became just as high as the original Bank House.
In the latter half of the 18th century, the Bank of the Estates of the Realms purchased the nearby building on the northern side of Norra Bankogränd where they decided to build a new two-floor house. The Northern Bank House (Norra Bankohuset) was built and used for storage purposes, which is why its façade is nearly undecorated. On the other hand, you can see bars protecting the windows on the bottom and the first floors.
An interesting element to notice is the pedestrian bridge connecting the two buildings which was built to avoid carrying money and valuables across the street from one building to the other.
Eventually, after more than 225 years at Järntorget, the Swedish National Bank moved to its new facilities at Helgeandsholmen across Riksgatan from the Parliament House in 1906. The new massive building made of granite and sandstone promised a prominent location and enough space for the operations of the world’s first central bank which was granted a monopoly on issuing banknotes in Sweden in 1897.
However, the Helgeandsholmen island turned out to be too tight for the two organisations after the Swedish Parliament became unicameral in 1971. After several years of discussions, planning and construction works, the National Bank moved once again five years after the organisational changes to the Parliament were approved.
The new Swedish National Bank House at Brunkebergstorg square was designed by the architect Peter Celsing with the main intention of looking impregnable. This was achieved thanks to the façade covered by rare black granite with windows set deeply into the walls which gives the building its massive appearance. Unfortunately, Celsing himself never got to see the result of his work, the Bank House completed in 1976, as he passed away two years earlier.
It is interesting to notice the incorporation of the circle and square shapes throughout the building. These geometrical shapes were used on the exterior as well as the interior. The inside of the building seems surprisingly pleasant compared to the rough looks of the building from the outside. Granite was also used in the interior, but here its finish is polished and shiny unlike the matte and rough one visible from the street. This enhances both the connection between the outer and the inner parts of the building as well as highlights the contrast between their characters.
If the pleasant interior was not enough to create pleasant work conditions for the employees of the bank, the top floor includes recreational areas such as a sports hall, a gym and a swimming pool. The new Bank House received a lot of interest in both national and international contexts which is why the Bank also allows visitors to visit its facilities. Moreover, the Bank produced a short film about its home.
Now you know where the Swedish National Bank has resided since the year 1668 when it was founded until the present day. All of its residences were built during very different historical periods and the functions of the bank itself also differed significantly at each of these points in time. All of this can be seen in the buildings that homed or still home the National Bank as their sizes, shapes, styles and characters vary greatly.
We are preparing a lot more stories like this for you in the near future so do come back to Trevl for more. Next time, I am going to show you where to find some of the most interesting public statues in Stockholm and later, tell you everything there is to know about the next-to-largest building in the city at the time of its construction, only second to the Royal Palace.
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