In the original plans for House of Sweden, architects Gert Wingårdh and Tomas Hansen proposed a residence for the Swedish Ambassador. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the National Property Board of Sweden are now implementing the original plan in its entirety, and integrating the Swedish diplomatic presence in the US capital.
The Ambassador’s residence is to move from its current property on Nebraska Avenue to House of Sweden, after some necessary adaptations in parts of the building, giving Sweden a more practical and attractive platform, with a modern profile reinforcing the possibilities for official entertainment. The move to the new residence in House of Sweden is planned for 2021.
“An attractive building is an important tool in our efforts to successfully develop the image of Sweden in the US”, says the Head of the MFA’s Property Management and Logistics Department Lars Schmidt, who also welcomes modern and functional premises in which the Embassy can conduct representative and efficient activities while also promoting Swedish architecture, art, contemporary design and modern technology in a safe working environment.
“We think there are many advantages to relocating the Ambassador’s residence to House of Sweden and concentrating our activities. The building is designed for this, although naturally adaptations will be necessary in parts of the building”, says Michael Blomqvist, Property Manager at the National Property Board’s international department.
“With both the Embassy and the Ambassador’s residence now moving into the same building in Washington DC, our vision for House of Sweden is complete. A transparent building with an openness that I hope can reflect Sweden in the world. A place for meetings and collaboration!” says architect Gert Wingårdh.
House of Sweden was inaugurated in 2006, and reflects Swedish tradition and creates an atmosphere of openness and transparency. The building is light and airy, with large glass segments; the building materials are pale wood and stone, and it features glass art by Ingegärd Råman. The property’s signature – a band of pale backlit wood – gives an illusion of the building floating in the dark, reflected in the waters of the Potomac: “a consistent theme in its architectural design, both exterior and interior”, according to the Kasper Salin Prize jury. The building, which boasts magnificent views in several directions, occupies a prime location in the Georgetown Waterfront Park, with its popular waterfront esplanade and restaurants at The Washington Harbour. The property has a large roof terrace with space for events and unfettered views of the Arlington National Cemetery, the Watergate complex and the Kennedy Center. The building also houses a large event centre with generous exhibition and entertaining spaces. The Embassy of Iceland also has its offices in the building, which has been home to the Embassy of Sweden offices since 2006, when the building was inaugurated by the King and Queen.
This move means that the current Ambassador’s residence on Nebraska Avenue – which is in serious need of renovation – will be sold, and a new era of Swedish diplomacy in the US will begin, with a focus on innovation, sustainability and contemporary design in a location with new prospects, both for work and for creative meetings with American society. The move to the new residence in House of Sweden is planned for 2021.
How will the change of residence affect activities?
An ambassador’s residence in House of Sweden has great potential for the kind of entertainment and promotion activities that usually take place in a Swedish ambassador’s residence today. A residence in House of Sweden will offer high-quality and sustainable housing for the Swedish ambassador, and will still be close to infrastructure, schools and a safe workplace.
How might the change of residence affect the image of Sweden?
The move to House of Sweden will strengthen the profile of the building and make it a collective emblem of a modern and contemporary image of Sweden in Washington and the US. The relocation to House of Sweden is also in line with the architects’ original intentions for the building, which was designed to illustrate our open Sweden, based on a rich interior using modern materials, with its proportions and harmony with its surroundings creating added value.
Are there any financial benefits to moving the residence?
The relocation to House of Sweden will reduce the cost to central government compared with alternative solutions for the Ambassador’s residence in Washington in the current location. The move to House of Sweden is estimated to lead to savings of approximately SEK 27 million and shorter construction times compared with renovating the current residence.
Are there any environmental reasons to move the residence?
The new Ambassador’s residence in House of Sweden will be environmentally adapted as far as possible to ensure energy-efficient use of resources. The premises will also be adapted for environmental sustainability in a way that would have been difficult to achieve in the current residence. The move will also reduce transportation between the residence and the Embassy offices, and the proximity to central Washington will also mean shorter journeys for guests and equipment.