(b Harplinge, Halland, 10 June 1891; d Stockholm, 12 March 1984).
Swedish architect and writer. He graduated from the Kungliga
Tekniska Högskolan (1914) and from the Kungliga Akademien för de
fria Konsterna in Stockholm (1918), before working in the office of
Ivar Tengbom. From 1921 to 1924 Ahlberg was a writer for and editor
of Byggmästaren, the Swedish journal of building and architecture.
His architectural production encompassed the traditionalism and
neo-classicism of the early 20th century, as well as the
International Style, characterized by rational, pragmatic design.
His Arts and Crafts Stand at the Göteborg Jubilee Exposition (1923),
with its mannered, slender pavilions, was an early contribution to
the neo-classical revival of the 1920s. The Freemasons’ Orphanage
(1928–31) at Blackeberg outside Stockholm showed his development of
this classicism into austere geometrical simplicity, while the
buildings of the Trade Union High School (1928–50) at Brünnsvik,
Dalecarlia, are based on the national timber-building tradition,
with red panelling, white-framed windows and tiled, hipped roofs.
The same combination of rational simplicity and romantic
traditionalism occurs in Ahlberg’s ecclesiastical buildings, such as
Mälarhöjden Chapel (1928), Stockholm, and Malmberget Church (1945),
Lapponia. Ahlberg was the founder and president of the Svenska
Arkitekters Riksförbund (1936–45). As architect to the National
Board of Health and Welfare (from 1935) he planned a number of
hospitals throughout Sweden and abroad. Sidsjön Mental Hospital
(1939–44) near Sundsvall is a complex of pavilions in yellow brick.
The concrete and glass University Hospital (1946–54) in Maricaibo,
Venezuela, is typical of modern, large-scale hospital planning. In
hospital planning and housing in particular Ahlberg adopted
functionalist ideals, and his contributions to the Stockholm
Exhibition of 1930 were on these lines. Hjorthagen housing estate
(1934–40) in Stockholm is an extreme example: a series of very slim,
parallel three-storey concrete ‘slabs’ and plain plaster façades. In
later projects, with his young associates Sven Backström and Leif
Reinius, he followed a softer line with richer and more traditional
use of materials. In public and civic buildings, for example the
Court of Appeal in Göteborg (1945) and the Civic Centre (1955) and
Dalarnas Museum (1960) in Falun, he preferred traditional brickwork,
while his industrial and office buildings such as those for the LKAB
Mining Co. at Malmberget and Kiruna in the 1950s and 1960s are
examples of the International Style in concrete, glass and sheet