Villa Göth in Uppsala (1950) is a unique expression of Swedish functionalism and its ideology. It is the first work by two renowned architects, Lennart Holm and Bengt Edman. It is considered radically innovative and has given rise to an internationally established concept in architecture: New Brutalism. What was new, in this case, was a backwards gaze, an attempt to rekindle a kind of original functionalism.
The villa was commissioned by Lennart Holm's uncle Elis Göth, who was head of the pharmaceutical company Pharmacia. As part of an informal social democratic academic elite, Holm became head of the Swedish Institute for Building Research and was appointed General Director of the newly established National Board of Urban Planning in 1969. Villa Göth was listed as a cultural heritage building in 1995, and hence subjected to the kind of sentimentalization that it was intended to oppose.
The Swedish welfare state was based on an idea of a strong centralized government together with strong organizations in close collaboration with the major industries, that included Pharmacia as well as the car manufacturer Volvo. A clear example of such a network featured the CEO of Volvo Gunnar Engellau, the President of The Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO, Arne Geijer and the Minister of Finance Gunnar Sträng.
An important part of the Swedish success story after World War II was the automobile industry, and here it was above all Volvo who provided the increasingly affluent Swedes with a “folk-car”. Produced during the crucial years of the Swedish success story was the Volvo Amazon (1956-1970). “What's good for Volvo is good for Sweden”, as Sträng stated in 1968. The Amazon’s most common engine type was the B18 version.
If one were to trace functionalism from its origin in the latter half of the 19th century, the construction year for the new brutalist Villa Göth, 1950, teeters between the industrialism of the 19th century and our contemporary post-industrial world.