Swedish king says new Nobel building too big

STOCKHOLM • It is too big, it is in the wrong place and the colour is too dominant.

At least that is what King Carl XVI Gustaf, Sweden's usually reserved monarch, thinks of the proposed Nobel Center to be built on the waterfront in central Stockholm next year.

"It does not have to be so gigantic, of this huge volume," Carl XVI Gustaf told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter in an interview published on Thursday.

The new centre, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, will host all of the Nobel Foundation's activities, including the annual Nobel Prize ceremony.

Construction on the 1.2 billion kronor (S$198 million) brass-clad building is set to begin next year.

"Nobel is a name that we want to protect, of course. We want to preserve and increase its value. And the purpose is laudable," the king said.

But he added: "The fact that the building has become so big and has landed a bit in the wrong place, it's a shame."

He also objected to the colour of the proposed building, saying it rendered the centre "powerful" and "really dominant".

His wife Queen Silvia also waded into the controversy, asking: "Why not have a referendum?"

The Swedish city council has already approved the design and construction, but the royal family's opinions are likely to spark debate.

Stockholm city councillor Roger Mogert, who is one of the main backers of the project, said the king's opinion does not matter.

"No, he's 100 years too late," he told Dagens Nyheter. "He is entitled to have an opinion on aesthetics, but Sweden has been a democracy since 1919."

The project will be financed in part by the Wallenberg family, one of the richest in Sweden, and by the Persson family, which controls the H&M high street fashion chain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Swedish king says new Nobel building too big'. Print Edition | Subscribe