- Rosenbad quarter is named after a 17th-century bathhouse
- The current buildings were erected around the turn of the 20th century
- Originally, all edifices housed banks
- The Swedish Government Offices (Regeringskansliet) moved into the quarter in 1981
Places, just like people, evolve over time. We could almost say that they live their own lives. These lives do not last fifty or a hundred years nor can they end in a blink of an eye. While we could go back in time essentially as long as we want to explore a place, we usually only think of a certain, fairly short period of time of which we have a detailed account. My main point is, places have not always been what they are today and the more of their story we know, the better.
Today a symbol of the Swedish Government, Rosenbad is almost synonymous with the institution among the locals. However, the history of the Government Offices (Regeringskansliet) at the location is surprisingly brief.
Back in the 1600s, the coast of Norrmalm was slightly closer to where we can admire the first row of palaces today. This is where the city’s most popular bathhouse was located since the 1680s. Christopher Thiel, the original owner of the property, did not only offer traditional baths but also baths in water with roses – the so-called rose baths. If you have not guessed it yet, this is where the modern-day name of the quarter comes from.
The Thiel family owned and operated the bathing facility until 1761 when the well-known Bonde dynasty purchased the property. The bathhouse was soon replaced by a couple of private palaces. Among them the Hildenbrand House (Hildenbrandska huset) and the Bonde Palace, both built in the late 1700s.
Here it is important to make a distinction between this 18th-century Bonde Palace on Strömgatan and the Bonde Palace (Bondeska Palatset) standing next to the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) which was built about a century earlier and which you can still see today.
At that time, Strömgatan was the street where you would find some of the most modern and most talked about private residences in Stockholm.
Therefore, it was not an accident that in the mid-1800s, the Rosenbad quarter became the home of Stockholm’s first modern hotel known as Hôtel Garni.
The aforementioned palaces were demolished at the end of the 19th century but the area was not going to lose any of its exclusivity. If anything, the opposite was true. I have talked in many posts about the rapid development of Sweden around the turn of the 20th century and the quickly increasing population of Stockholm during the era.
This modernisation and heavy industrialisation of the country favoured the banking sector which logically flourished. All these circumstances combined resulted in Rosenbad becoming the financial centre of Stockholm and, therefore, Sweden.
Bank headquarters were important advertisements of the institutions through which banks tried to show their solvency. Exclusive materials, extravagant designs, and latest technology were all a must.
In just a few years, Rosenbad became occupied by three different bank buildings. The Stockholm City’s Sparbank, Skånes Enskilda Bank (also known as Skånebanken), and Nordiska Kreditbanken were the three banks that resided in the quarter and you can still see their monograms and names at the entrances to the buildings today.
When talking about the latest tech, that in the early 1900s meant central heating, electric lighting, and elevators that all of these edifices were equipped with.
The building on the southern side of the quarter, which is now the most characteristic, is the former home of Nordiska Kreditbanken designed by architect Ferdinand Boberg and completed in 1902. Boberg’s creation is a clear example of the then-popular ‘Jugendstil’ which is elsewhere more commonly known as Art Nouveau.
Elements typical of other places and styles including Venezia, Orient, and Spanish Renaissance made it into architect Boberg’s design, too.
I hinted earlier in the post that the history of the Government Offices at Rosenbad is fairly short. Truth is it was only in 1981 that the institution moved in. That did not happen before a big reconstruction took place during which the buildings forming the quarter were connected and given a common entrance from Rosenbadsparken.
Several of the original design features returned to the buildings during this reconstruction, too, after they had been replaced rather insensitively during prior modifications.
For instance, new doors were created following Boberg’s original plans and the floors made of limestone and marble, as well as the roof, were restored carefully. The original ventilation system was also renovated.
Times have changed, though, and electric lighting is not a high-tech feature anymore. Therefore, the authorities recently passed a proposal for the next big renovation of the government facilities at Rosenbad.
According to the official information, installations and the aforementioned ventilation system are some of the elements in the greatest need of a reconstruction. However, improved logistics and accessibility are also among the top priorities of the coming works.
The process which is meant to prepare the facilities for the next 20 to 30 years is expected to cost around 300 million SEK and the works shall be carried out between January 2019 and summer of 2021.
Hence, there is still enough time for you to go and explore the buildings before the workers take over while the officials will operate temporarily from the Adelcrantz Palace (Adelcrantzska palatset) and Björnen quarter, both located in the neighbourhood.
If you now understand that symbols do not become what they are overnight, I accomplished what I set out to achieve with this post.
In case this post helped you learn something new or you just found it interesting, consider sharing it with you dear ones who you think might like it, too.
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Engström, Fredrik, 2017. SFV ska renovera Rosenbad – statsministern tvingas flytta. [fastighetsvarlden.se].