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Sweden to invest millions in controversial Nobel Center

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Sweden to invest millions in controversial Nobel Center
An artist's impression of the Nobel Center. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT
08:33 CET+01:00
If you thought the controversy around Bob Dylan was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Sweden's government and Stockholm City Council are set to invest millions of kronor into the running of the controversial so-called Nobel Center, a billion-kronor hub in honour of Sweden's famous Nobel Prizes to be built in central Stockholm by the Nobel Foundation.

Some say it is an inspiring architectural project bringing the awards into the modern era. Others call it an eyesore.

The huge construction initiative was voted through by councillors in April, but critics have not given up on overturning a decision to tear down a 19th-century toll house on Blasieholmen islet to make way for the large stone and glass facade building.

Despite the exact location of the Nobel Center still being as unclear as whether Bob Dylan is actually going to come to Stockholm at some point to receive his Nobel Prize in Literature or not, the state has now agreed to help fund the centre once it is up and running.

The state will contribute 120 million kronor in total ($13 million), 40 million a year three years after it opens. Stockholm City Council has offered 60 million kronor, 20 million kronor a year.

“The Nobel Center and the Nobel Prize are very important national issues. It is an important part of what Sweden wants to be associated with: being a leading knowledge nation and a strong research nation,” Helene Hellmark Knutsson, minister for higher education and research, told the TT news agency.

The idea was to start building the centre next year, for a 2019 opening. But the council's decision has been appealed, a process which is now expected to take one or two years.

Critics have also opposed suggestions that the Nobel Prize ceremony could be moved from the Concert Hall in Stockholm to the new building. But according to Lars Heikensten, CEO of the Nobel Foundation, no decision has been made.

Even Sweden's King himself, Carl XVI Gustaf, has got involved in the infected debate. He has his offices in the Royal Palace in Stockholm's Old Town, and will be able to look out through his window and gaze at the new Nobel Center when the work is finished.

“It does not have to be so gigantic, of this huge volume. You could downsize and turn it in different directions. And why get bogged down in the trenches and say that it should be in this exact location? You could move it,” he told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper back in June.

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