Last saturday we set out about 11 hobby photographers to the old Public Records building here in Stockholm. It was my Flickr aquaintance Björn Sahlström who had been able to get access to the building and we entered it with camers, tripods, bags of lenses and other gear to have a good time. The building is fairly large so we quickly spread out and did not have to step on each other’s toes at all really.
Strolling through the empty halls that used to hold all the stat public records and books was a strange feeling, I had never been there, some of the others had been on a guided tour and quickly went to photograph what they knew to be well worth taking a look at.
This building is called ”Riksarkivet” in Swedish and was built around 1880 with the intention of being able to withstand a fire. From the beginning the archive was only open during the light hours of the day because they did not want open flames or even electricity inside. Therefore it has huge windows to let enough light in for people to be able to work there with reasearch or book keeping tasks of various kinds.
The facade of the wondeful building is made from a special type of engineering brick in red and black. The architecture is referred to as neo-renaissance. It was the building of the Swedish publick records from 1890 ca and forward into modern times when it was moved to a new building. This house has been empty since then and is a wonderful place to visit.
This is the entrance of the old public records building here in Stockholm. It is a grand design and quite impressive when you are standing outside it. Notice the word "RIKSARKIVET" on top of the door? There is also a light on inside that shows through the stained glass window.
The grand entrance is well known and famous!
At first they did not want electricity in the building at all. That is why they went for such big beautiful windows. But in the end they still had problems with soot on the windows from the near by train track and decided that some electricity was okay for lights and reading lamps.
Elevator. Once no electricity at all because of the fire hazard but still this elevator was installed. The engine for it was compartmentalized in a fire proof encasing in the basement of the building. The elevator was delivered by a company called "Allmänna svenska elektriska aktiebolaget" which is today better known as ASEA - one of the biggest companies in Sweden...
Archive room. Notice the plastic skeleton someone has hung in the leftmost window?
The Book Slide or "bokstörten" as it is called in Swedish. This invention was added to the stair case in the days of the second world war. The idea being that should Sweden become attacked by an aggressor in the war, then the archives and books here could be loaded onto ships fast using this book slide to slide them down to the water front and then they could be sailed off to some secure location.
Another shot of the famous book slide, this time from beneath.
Elevator indicator indicating which floor the elevator is located at. The readings indicates "top floors 1-3" where the actual indicator is located on top floor 1 and then middle floor I guess some would call that the Mezzanine and then the two bottom floors in the building. Strange way to give names to the floors but since this was the first elevator installed in a public building in Sweden I guess they found a better way later on.
Heating water details. The plumbing is quite cool here, craftmanship and artwork at the same time. I found myself having a bit of a problem with shooting details this time, something I need to work on I think because I came home with a lot of different rooms in my camera but not so many details and sometimes it is the details that really gives you the feeling for something. Or as the expression goes - the devil is in the details...
Column radiator - these radiators are quite fantastic being a design from the 1880:s. They are hollow inside and the cold air at the floor level enters through the grates at the bottom, gets heated and rises to exit at the top creating a chimney effect that will circulate the air in the room to avoid moisture and dampness. Of course the outside also radiates heat and aids in the convection. And on top of that they are rather beautiful to look at in my opinion.
Another of the famous archive rooms. That's me up on the balustrade there using the camera self timer.
The reading room / study / board room. I love the details in this room, look at the drawers in the table for temporarily putting away what you are not reading at the moment and look at the lamps integrated in the design to cast a nice reading light over the table when the huge windows are not sufficient for the light in the winter time. Look at the balustrade around the whole room where you can walk around it. This is one of the most fascinating rooms in this building.
An attic light - I found this light in the attic and it seems a more modern design than many other lights, perhaps something put in in the seventies or eighties when these spaces where being used. I liked the radiosity of light on the beams and so I managed to make three separate exposures and combine them for this photograph which is a proper HDR photo.
The light on the floor again on one of the upper levels in the building. The huge windows served the purpose of providing enough light for working in the building before there was any electrical lights in here. Eventually the fear of fire subsided and electricity was installed and one of the reasons was that the windows was subjected to a lot of soot from the nearby railway where the steam engines went past hourly.
The hallway - I love the stone floor and the way the radiator is integrated into the wall of the stairwell like this, it is a really good design. Notice how they left space at the top for the air to move freely creating that "chimney effect" in order to make the heater much more efficient than conventional radiators.
The commode - one of the toilets with a good view out over the old town in Stockholm and wonderful light from the window. Notice the nice radiator from the heating system, all built in so you can't burn yourself on it even if it is really hot. The insulation was not that good so in the winter the heaters worked pretty hard to keep the moisture and dampness at bay.
One of the archive rooms with the shelves intact. All the papers, books and everything else is long gone from this place but here the shelves remains. Probably most of the archive rooms looked like this with narrow paths between the shelves where librarians and intendents could find the acts, protocols and other things that was requested perhaps by the government.
A splendid view through one of the magnificient windows. This is in the same archive room as the last picture was taken, just looking out the window. I think I could live here :-)
Details from the elevator. It reads: "Instruction. Make sure doors and gates are closed properly after you have entered or exited the elevator. Use the buttons accordingly to their markings and then allow the lift after it has started to stop by itself. Never open the gates when the elevator is running. People under the age of majority are not allowed to operate this elevator alone."
A reading light with a classic design. Since light bulbs caused lots of heat there is a kind of "stick" where you can grab and angle the light even if it is too hot to touch directly.
What can you say other than this magnificient roof is just splendidly preserved.
Here is the reading room or board roam again, this time with the camera facing the windows.