• Birger Jarlsgatan 27 – a magical venue undergoing transformation

    Founder and designer of Norrgavel, Nirvan Richter, closely follows the work on the renovation at Birger Jarlsgatan 27. On August 24, it's time for the grand opening, and customers can once again find the store at the same address as before. Photographer: Emil Fagander

    Juni 2023

    Since 1999, Norrgavel has been located at the same address in Stockholm, but over the past year, the premises have been a construction site. A major renovation is underway here, which will only be completed by the end of the summer. In the meantime, the store has moved into a temporary and considerably smaller space across the street. But what kind of transformation is actually taking place in the historically significant retail space at Birger Jarlsgatan 27?

    At the end of August 2023, the doors will once again open to customers at Birger Jarlsgatan 27. The question is, what will they be greeted with? Norrgavel's founder, Nirvan Richter, shares his visions for the renovation and the hopes for the "new" store.

    - We were faced with a crossroads where we either needed to search for a new location or undertake a comprehensive renovation of the entire two-story corner space. The original theater room's impressive ceiling height is truly magical, so it would have been difficult to find something with the same inherent potential. I already sensed the architectural qualities beforehand, but it's only now, with this extensive renovation, that I truly understand the essence of the space, says Nirvan.

    "It's the same architect who, a few years later, designed Liljevalchs."

    In this archival image from 1911, the building at Birger Jarlsgatan 27 is visible, with its characteristic and heavy national romantic expression of the time. The house was designed by architect Carl Bergsten and was completed in 1911. Photographer: Anton Blomberg.

    The building, designed by architect Carl Bergsten, exhibits a heavy national romantic expression. Interestingly, it's the same architect who later designed Liljevalchs. When Norrgavel first moved into the premises in 1999, a simple adaptation was made independently, and minor changes have been gradually implemented since then. Many alterations were made to adapt the space to what was long believed to be the original design. However, upon closer investigation, it was discovered that much of the interior, with its rounded forms, was added during the renovation in 1938. Even the rounded side roof on the second floor was added when the Aveny cinema took over the lease in the late 1930s. This impractical detail has caused headaches for Norrgavel over the years, as no cabinets or taller furniture could fit along the walls. But now, it's farewell to the 1940s forms and a focus on the original expression from 1911. For example, a wooden ceiling has been installed in the upper mezzanine gallery as a nod to a similar solution at Liljevalchs.

    "We have been very focused on highlighting the potential that exists within the premises."

    – We have been very focused on highlighting the potential that exists within the premises. Partly by returning to the origin, investigating what is original, and then reverting to Carl Bergsten's intentions when he designed the house in the early 1900s. But at the same time, adapting the space to our business, of course. The entire work has been carried out under the supervision and with valuable input from a building conservator who has searched for historical facts in various archives. We have also had fantastic help from the architectural firm Fojab, who have been very bold in their approach. It was on their initiative that all balcony structures from 1938 had to give way to a completely new mezzanine solution, with an elliptical opening between the floors. It turned out that the design was not original, so we were free to make changes. Even the cinema's black stone staircase has been removed because we have incorporated the former outdoor staircase into the premises. A whole bunch of architects have been involved in the work, and it has been very enjoyable and rewarding to be able to discuss the work continuously with other professionals, says Nirvan.

    “When you step into the store, you'll be greeted by concrete floors and a low wall that flirts with the national romantic expression of the time.“

    The renovation work has involved stripping away all installations, suspended ceilings, and unnecessary wall coverings. This revealed the structures from 1911, which are left exposed in a raw manner. The stylistically inappropriate glass partitions in the facade have been removed and replaced with solid oak panels, more akin to the original design. When you step into the store, you'll encounter a kind of outdoor feeling with concrete floors and a low wall. This stylistic approach flirts with the influential figures of the time; Axel Munthe, Carl Milles, and Carl Eldh – and their characteristic national romantic expression. This also complements the stone staircase exceptionally well. In other parts of the premises, the original parquet flooring will be supplemented with solid oak flooring laid plank by plank. With all coverings removed, the concrete ceiling will be exposed – a deliberate choice to highlight the structural elements, much like Norrgavel's visible furniture constructions. So, how will customers experience the renovation and the changes when they step into the premises at the end of August?

    “In the retail sector, you rarely see anything quite like this.”

    – Our most loyal customers will probably be speechless and not understand how the new relates to the old – neither in terms of branding nor space. It's such an incredibly significant change. In the retail sector, you rarely see anything quite like this. Sources of inspiration have ranged from Lund Cathedral to stripped-down Gotlandic houses. With such beautiful spaces, not much more is needed, says Nirvan.

    In the renovated retail space, there will be a significant focus on trying to give the assortment a more curated expression by scaling back and refining. The ambition is to visualize how the entire range is coordinated in terms of form, material, size, and color. This is intended to be further clarified with a division into different spatial areas. Internally, these rooms or departments are designated as VARA (BE), VÅRDA (CARE), SKAPA (CREATE), and DRÖMMA (DREAM).

    “How can one run a store while advocating for reduced consumption?”

    – When customers step into the store, they should immediately get an answer to the question: how can one run a store while advocating for reduced consumption? We want to highlight the joy of making thoughtful choices and taking care of one's furniture throughout its life. When shopping at Norrgavel, you are part of the creative process and co-creator of your furniture. The vision is, of course, also to clearly convey the company's triple values here, says Nirvan.

    Some of the individuals who have been involved and participated in the extensive renovation of the retail space at Birger Jarlsgatan 27. From left; Bijan Mobaraki (Humlegården Fastigheter), Michael Uebel (Norrgavel), Nirvan Richter (Norrgavel), Berit Thorén (Norrgavel), Andreas Jansson (Öhmans bygg). Photographer: Emil Fagander.


    The premises at Birger Jarlsgatan 27 carry many memories and traces from previous activities. When the property was completed in 1911, Intima teatern moved into the purpose-built theater premises. Later, Komediteatern took over the premises, and in the late 1930s, the original theater underwent extensive renovations.Then, a graceful and festive-inspired design language was added – a distinctive style typical of cinemas of that time. In 1938, the Aveny cinema moved in and remained for many years. After a series of adaptations and renovations in the 1980s, the rock club Gino occupied the space for several eventful years until the mid-1990s. In the years before Norrgavel took over the lease, Nordins advertising agency converted the premises into a lavish and modern office. Humlegården Fastigheter owns the property at Birger Jarlsgatan 27.

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