Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

A Mid-Century Shopping Centre in Northern Sweden

Written by Christopher • January 16th, 2012
A Mid-Century Shopping Centre in Northern Sweden

Shopping in Luleå around 1959

“Shopping” is one of the first interior shopping center ever built. This mid-century gem is hidden away in the cold northern parts of Sweden. Designed and conceptualized by famed British-Swedish architect Ralph Erskine and completed in 1955.

After visiting an open-air shopping mall in Canada with harsh weather conditions, Erskine wanted to create a place that would be enjoyable for everyone all year round, not being dependent on the current (and sometimes harsh) weather conditions.

The shopping centre was to become a natural meeting point for everyone in the city and to offer both entertainment, dining and plenty of merchandise and goods for all the family. It was nicknamed “a city within the city”. The unique floor plan of the shopping center features multiple levels that are offset to each other by half a level and all connected by numerous staircases and escalators – creating a maze that can be a bit confusing to navigate for first comers (and thus requiring mall hostesses that could guide the visitors).

The huge concrete pillars and walkways supporting the construction makes it a look a bit cold but at the same time very clean and easy on the eyes. This type of design was very popular throughout the the 50s and 60s, and Sweden was no exception.

Shopping also featured a unique cinema within the lower levels. Nicknamed “The Grotto“, it was built to resemble a massive cave with its egg-shaped layout and raw concrete walls. It was however forced to close down in 1988 when a big multiplex cinema opened nearby.

The mall is still around today, although with a updated design and the addition of the typical anchor stores found in every mall nowadays.

C’est la vie.

Video that visits the shopping centre when it was first opened (in Swedish only).

Above: Shopping in Luleå in 1955 — Photo by Nils Ahlstrand

Above: Concept drawing for the exterior

Above: Interior concept drawing

Above: Interior concept drawing

Above: The shopping centre features multiple levels connected by walkways and stairs

Above: A city within a city

Above: Various photos showing the interior of the shopping centre

Above: Shopping in Luleå in the 50s — Photo by Rune Espling

Above: “The Grotto” cinema located in the basement

Above: Shopping also had a car expo at one point

Above: A concept drawing showing the interior of the mall

Above: Sign-o-rama concept drawing

Above: A diagram showing the original design of the shopping centre. The cinema can be seen in the lower left section.

Christopher

Christopher founded Ultra Swank in 2005. Has a crush on mid-century graphic design, defunct airlines, Disneyland and the Century 21 Exposition. Is a collector of easy listening music from the 60s and 70s and a Swedish expat living in Barcelona, Spain.

Find out more about Christopher

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