The story of House of Sweden in Washington began several decades ago. For the past 35 years, the Embassy of Sweden had been housed in rented space and moved several times. Finally, all the pieces fell into place, and Sweden had a new home.
The effort to find a permanent location for the Embassy of Sweden has been under way since the 1960s when a decision was made to procure property for a Swedish building. There were a number of potential sites. In fact, the lot on which House of Sweden currently sits was one of the first possibilities as far back as 1997, but the timing wasn’t right for the project.
Another opportunity to acquire the highly desirable lot on the Potomac in Georgetown presented itself in 2002. The Swedish National Property Board (SFV) signed an option and preliminary lease with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In June 2002, SFV announced an international architectural competition to design a new building to be erected on this lot. “Openness” and “transparency” were the keywords for the contest.
From that competition came a brand new concept of House of Sweden: a modern Swedish embassy should reflect Swedish values, showcase Swedish architects, and be built from materials that reflect Swedish roots and traditions.
In 2004, it was clear that architect Gert Wingårdh and his colleague, Tomas Hansen, had designed the winning proposal for the new embassy in Washington. The selection committee issued this statement about their entry: “It represents a sound Swedish architectural tradition that uses simple means and deliberate lighting to create architecture that is rich in the experiences it provides, yet still refined.”
On April 23, 2004, Ms. Marita Ulvskog, Sweden’s Minister for Culture, along with Washington Mayor Anthony Williams, broke ground for House of Sweden on 30th Street, N.W. Two and a half years later the building was ready to be inaugurated by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden.