Fostering a discussion on the role of architecture for a region’s identity and character, the exhibition Define/Refine takes its point of departure in the concept of Critical Regionalism, which is interpreted and elaborated upon. Rather than a style, Critical Regionalism is an approach to architecture that attempts to unite local culture with global civilisation. A site-specific architecture that, for example, seeks to build smart in a specific climate, take into consideration the existing social life, and that employs local materials and building techniques.

The five invited architect-led teams each present a scenario for a future architecture that is rooted in its region and place. Five scenarios that neither provide comprehensive solutions nor answers but should be regarded as a platform for a continued conversation on architecture, landscape and urbanism in this part of the world.

In a time characterised by globalisation and internationalisation, with ongoing urbanisation and large-scale urban development in many parts of the world, there is a need to discuss architecture as the character and the soul of a place and a region. Strengthening the distinctiveness of regions is compatible with, and desirable in, a global and more sustainable world.

Exhibition catalogue

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Read the exhibition catalogue here ›› or order it online here ››

Participating teams:

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We find ourselves in a region that is being created, redefined and continuously constructed. People, cultures and traditions collaborate and give rise to new South Swedish and multi-local identities.

In order to manifest in architecture this constantly changing region, we set out, in a novel way, from the region’s tradition of timber framing with hardwood, to enable temporary, adaptable spaces in movement. “Our Soil” is a mobile, flexible and modular timber-framed pavilion to develop public and local meeting places.

We wish to showcase architecture’s role as an organising system and enabler of social relations. Here, the users’ imagination animates the architecture.

The structure is an editable and modular public space that can be adapted to the changes of the seasons, times of day and requirements - a structure that surprises. The porous, transparent structure breathes. Inside and outside merge, creating synergies regardless of its placement.

“Our Soil” exemplifies a philosophy in which we are all authorised to influence, anchor, manage and own the architecture that creates the region’s diversity of meeting places, life, expressions and identities.

Erik Giudice – Arkitekt SAR/MSA, D.P.L.G. Architecte/M.Arch Erik Giudice Architects Gustav Magnusson – Planeringsarkitekt FPR/MSA Erik Giudice Architects
Jonas Nordgren – Arkitekt SAR/MSA, Maa Schauman & Nordgren Architects
Lia Ghilardi – Ma & Mphil Culture & Cities Noema Culture And Place Mapping


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In Skåne, the primary local building materials have been clay and brick. The tonality of the brick derives from the geological composition of the clay and the various brick manufacturing methods. Characterising the cultural heritage, the colours create a natural and genuine impression and quality between landscape and the built environment.

It is difficult to imagine that future construction will not be large-scale and to some extent industrial. Against this background, one may wonder how long the strong regional tradition of building with brick can continue to provide craft-like qualities with a local character.

We have focused on the naturally occurring clays that historically have distinguished Scanian houses. In a forward-looking perspective, we are testing how the material can be used in new ways for façade cladding. Our proposals are adapted to modern, rational construction techniques, which may be realistically developed on a large scale and with relevant financing. Rooted in local tradition and application, this new design approach is anchored in and pertaining to a geographical and cultural heritage place, which is how we interpret Critical Regionalism.

Gunilla Svensson – Arkitekt SAR/MSA Gunilla Svensson Arkitektkontor
Pernilla Norrman – Keramiker & Konstnär Pernilla Norrman Keramikverkstad


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There is a widely-held notion that people would rather live and work in urban environments than in rural areas and many believe that urbanisation is sustainable. Is urbanisation sustainable? Should the future inhabitants of Sweden (which will increase by 2 million in 2050, according to Statistics Sweden) reside in cities or can attractive and sustainable alternatives be created? Nature, social relationships, quality leisure time and security are factors that speak for the countryside.

Society’s endurance and the need for social distancing raise questions on future ways of living and working.

How can rural possibilities be advanced and developed for increased attractiveness? How can we take advantage of, protect and continue to build on existing qualities in a village, promote the place and surroundings that are created rather than adding buildings as independent objects?

Who is responsible for the spaces in between and the totality? Should there be requirements for the design of the village? Scenarios for the future housing in the village are relevant for both the public and professional discussion.

Kirsi Jarnerö – Forskare & Processledare Smart Housing Småland
Eva Haraldsson – Arkitekt SAR/MSA Arkitektbolaget
Kristina Bornholm – Arkitekt SAR/MSA Arkitektbolaget


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Architecture develops through generations of commitment and care. We learn by caring for our environment. Knowledge provides the conditions for progress and the creative design of new additions.

  • The environment and the architecture we have inherited support our culture and our society. A deep understanding of our historical heritage is fundamental for a meaningful and identity-creating architecture.

  • Local materials shape local architecture like a red thread throughout the history of local construction. The southern Scanian architecture has been shaped by lime, clay and wood. Lime, clay and wood are the future materials of the region!

  • Local techniques and materials comprise architectural expressions with a strong local connection. Restoration and conservation keep local techniques alive. By linking restoration with new production we wish to support local businesses.

  • The concept of craft, its fundamental utility and meaning, must be re-established. Pride in craft produces high quality. New techniques should be a tool for developing craft.

  • Architecture with a local identity embraces local diversity and develops its wealth. The diversity of the landscape and the population should give rise to a rich and inclusive architecture.

Kerstin Barup – Arkitekt SAR/MSA, Professor Barup & Edström Arkitektkontor
Carmen Izquierdo – Arkitekt SAR/MSA, Arquitecto Coam Esencial Ab Arkitekter


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We are convinced that the ambition to define the aesthetic expression of a place presupposes a discourse on the process of site formation and the validity of borders. Fundamental to our work is the question whether it is possible to geographically identify a regionally rooted architecture.

Regionally rooted architectural expressions have traditionally been regarded as products of the local material resources: Scania is built of clay and brick and Norrland of wood. We do not believe that the essence of a place is solely bound to its resources or history. Employing a progressive understanding of a place, we can include human resources in site-specific terms and consider each site a meeting place, a hub of social networks and relationships. Thus, we are able to comprehend how the global, regional and local interplay in the understanding of site specificity inasmuch as human relations extend beyond Malmö and southern Sweden.

We suggest that architects should have a relational sensibility to people and places and an awareness of the fact that every story is open-ended. A physical form based on Critical Regionalism must constantly be reexamined and transformed. We have invited 100 people to share their stories of places in their vicinity.

Carolina Pérez Rabelo – Arkitekt SAR/MSA Tengbom
Johanna Bratel – Landskapsarkitekt LAR/MSA Dis⁄Order
Karin Andersson – Landskapsarkitekt LAR/MSA Dis⁄Order
Rebecka Engvall – Arkitekt SAR/MSA Tengbom


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See Tom Avermaete – Prof. Dr., ETH Zurich, give a lecture on Critical Regionalism during this year's Architecture Days.


Curator: Gunilla Kronvall, Architects Sweden at Form/Design Center
Exhibition architecture: Karin Sundberg
Graphics: Andréason & Leibel
Producer: Form/Design Center