South Lapland, Sweden, 1950
2014 marks the centenary of the birth of Ralph Erskine, the architect best known for two projects completed in the 1980s: the Byker redevelopment in Newcastle upon Tyne and The Ark in London – an office building which, at the time, was at the forefront of sustainable design. Erskine, born and educated in the UK, moved to Sweden in 1939, attracted by the promise of a more egalitarian society that was embracing modern architecture. Here he received his first, mainly residential, commissions. The Ski Hotel at Borgafjäll, South Lappland, was built between 1948 and 1950 and is generally acknowledged as one of his most original projects. The design was influenced by local climatic conditions and featured long sloped roofs which, covered in snow, became part of the surrounding mountain landscape. One was initially used as a nursery ski slope. The interior, articulated around different levels, featured imaginative use of space – highlighted in the main public area shown in the photograph by the slanted structural elements and free-standing stove.