Chalmers Conferences, Transvaluation: Making the world matter

Counteroptical Aesthetics Darkness, Breakage and Surplus in the work of Sigurd Lewerentz
Rhett Russo

Last modified: 2015-08-18


According to Graham Harman the non - relational surplus in objects allows them to change. As Harman points out this surplus can never be drained dry. This is essential to understanding that the advancement of architecture is incommensurate with the pursuit of finite truth or absolute knowledge. Harman’s philosophy offers a fresh start, and it has confronted us with a new set of questions about the architectural object. There are several concepts in Harman’s work that are conspicuously part of architecture –in the northern tradition these are evident in the late work of Sigurd Lewerentz, most notably his church in Klippan and his Woodlawn cemetery chapel. The experience of these buildings offers a similar response - the work is both strangely captivating and poetic. Harman’s concept of breakage, is alive in Lewerentz’s austere, yet strange disposition of architectural elements, the surplus that permeates his use of common brick, and his turn from the purist white architecture of the 1930’s to the dark interiors of his late brick churches. Harman’s philosophy offers an alternative discourse to the anthropocentric tradition that has come to define this work.


Architecture; Lewerentz; Aesthetics; Counterfactual; Object Oriented Ontology


Ahlin, J., 2014. Sigurd Lewerentz, architect, Zürich: Park Books.

Harman, G. 2011. The Quadruple Object, Washington USA: Zero Books.

Harman G., 2013. Bells and Whistles More Speculative Realism. Washington: Zero Books.

Salter, P. 1997. Tolerance as Strategy, In: OASE Journal for Architecture, Essential Architecture, No. 45-46.

Wilson, C., 2013. Sigurd Lewerentz The Sacred Buildings and the Sacred Sites, In: N. Flora, P. Giardiello and G. Postiglione eds., Sigurd Lewerentz. London: Pall Mall.

Full Text: PDF