Architect Fredric Benesch to Present 'What Say Wood' Lecture on March 25

The Loggia d´Ombra is a pavilion that was built for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Pedro Kok

The Loggia d´Ombra is a pavilion that was built for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Fredric Benesch will present a lecture at 4 p.m. Monday, March 25, in Ken and Linda Sue Shollmier Hall, Room 250 of Vol Walker Hall, on the University of Arkansas campus, as part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design lecture series.

Benesch, SAR/MSA, founded the architectural firm In Praise of Shadows in 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden, along with Katarina Lundeberg. Their projects range in scale from architectural exhibitions projects, interior design and private homes to urban developments with multi-family housing.

During his lecture, "What Say Wood," Benesch will present a number of projects from his 10 years of practice, ranging in scale from small architectural objects to larger housing projects. The lecture will be structured around a book published in connection with the Loggia d´Ombra, a pavilion built for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. "What Say Wood," is an essay reflecting upon earlier Venice exhibitions and the resulting projects. He will also discuss the firm's approach to creating architecture and the architectural potentials of working with wood.

His firm has focused on using wood as the material for many exhibitions and projects, and it has investigated the material's potential for structure and form. The firm decided to work with wood for its inherent combination of high structural and tactile qualities, its position as a totally renewable and sustainable building material, and, so far, its unchallenged position as the construction material of the future. Developing a sustainable society brings new challenges for architects, and Benesch will go deeper into a number of projects to describe some of these challenges.

The position of wood in the building industry is growing, and the wood industry's fast development and digitally controlled production methods set new demands for architects. Benesch will discuss some of their urban housing projects to show Stockholm's ambition of strengthening social, economic and ecologic sustainability through the city's ongoing densification, with the goal of making Stockholm a walkable city in which people, bikes, underground and buses are given priority over private cars.

The firm's name refers directly to the essay "In Praise of Shadows," by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1933). Tanizaki focuses on the aesthetics of traditional Japanese architecture in reference to western culture and the modernist movement, and the firm also attends to the phenomena described in the essay.

Lundeberg and Benesch, both teachers at KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm, have a partly academic approach to their practice, seeking a way to explore architecture in each commission. The firm works with idea, material and site as ingredients to create personal and site-specific architecture, and they use matter, light and shadows as tools to create meaningful spaces. In relation to this, they explore what contemporary architecture can learn from local traditions and traditional uses of materials.

One main interest is how the interaction between contemporary architecture, contextual aspects and typological settings can be interpreted into the society and production methods of today. Specific choices of construction and materials are important. Lundeberg and Benesch are interested in building technology, and they believe the way a building is constructed and structured is fundamental to the expression and the experience of the project.

The office has exhibited work at the Venice Biennale on several occasions, including in 2018 with Loggia d'Ombra displayed in Serra dei Giardini on invitation by Architects Sweden, Swedish Wood and the developer Folkhem. The firm also took part in the exhibition in the Nordic Pavilion in 2012 by invitation of the Finnish Museum of Architecture and the exhibition Lighthouses, curated by Peter MacKeith, now dean of the Fay Jones School.

Some of the firm's well-published projects include the Ulriksdal Maintenance Building, House on a Rock and the Stockholm Aesop stores. Current ongoing projects include a number of private commissions, the interior design for the renewal of the Stockholm City Library by Gunnar Asplund (in collaboration with Nyréns) and several housing projects on commission by Folkhem.

Benesch has a Master in Architecture from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has also taken postgraduate courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

This is the 2019 Dean's Lecture in Nordic Architecture, in promotion of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

This lecture qualifies for continuing education credits through the American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The public is invited to attend. Admission is free, with limited seating.

For more information, contact 479-575-4704 or


Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialist
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design


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