Friday, 1 October 2010
September 30th - Hammarby Sjostad
Hammarby Sjostad (Hammarby Lake Town, pronunciation – don’t look at the Sjo, instead say Hoole but then put a guttural/Welsh/phlegmy sort of start to it and you’ll be about there) has some pretty well established areas and is still being built. Target date for completion is 2017 by which time it will provide housing for around 25,000 people within easy cycling or public transport distance of Stockholm. It’s as dense as Western Harbour in Malmo although feels a bit more spacious as they go higher and it covers a much bigger area. There’s variation between the structures, although again not as much as Western Harbour, with most of the accommodation being 3-5 story flats with generous balconies and shared gardens in between Transport is concentrated on the main drag from the city with little streets spreading outwards on one side of the flats – the other side opening onto wooded walkways or the waterfronts – these last being the nicest things about it. Boulevards and little moorings and decking walkways run the whole length, with piers that stretch into the lake edged with thick rushes. I see a lot of people out walking babies in buggies, feeding ducks and the little brown birds that jump in and out of the rushes and seem quite fearless. I meet Anna from Skanska who worked on the development when it was in it’s planning stages. She turns up on a bike and we walk around. The idea behind it seems to have stemmed, as with the Malmo developments from LAN21 agreements. A lot of thought has gone into how the residents will live there with access to local shops and transport planned out as well as leisure facilities – including a (winter only) ski slope immediately behind. The had to rush the new tram stop through as people moved in faster than expected and the authorities worried that if they didn’t then people would quickly form transport habits relying on cars which would be difficult to change (School provision was also a last minute rush – the demographic was expected to be older but has mostly been couples with young children). Making it easy to be green has been somewhat of a focus here. Waste chutes are provided outside each building for incineration, paper and compostables. The compostable ones have been provided with a key (people were chucking any old rubbish in apparently) and a sign thanking people for putting the right stuff in and saying how great the last lot was. Plastics and glass have collection points on each block and all are retrieved by big lorries from the main roads by suction – saving waste trucks operating within the neighbourhood areas. District heating is fed from a part waste-fired CHP plant – but the tower than I assume to be the flue is actually from the sewage works and it’s obviously high enough as I can’t smell anything from it. It’s an experimental installation producing biogas for combustion for energy generation. What with all of this, reclaimed heat from the wastewater and using the they reckon upon completion and full occupation they’ll be producing half of all their energy needs locally, with the rest being bought in. Walkign around it I’m reminded of Richard Register’s Ecocities book – what seemed upon reading a rather fanciful flight of the imagination as to how cities might feel in the future.
It’s pretty impressive but again, the most impressive thing is the marketing. Stockholm is ‘Environmental Capital 2010’ and although a couple of the claims in the brochure are tenuous the whole thing hangs together rather well. I’m sure there’s some element of a self-fulfilling prophecy here too – that telling people about how sustainable the area they live in is encourages them to behave accordingly – provided, of course, that it is made easy for them to do so.
The cycle routes are good, as they are for the rest of Stockholm and plenty of people are out using them – including enough chic to not beat Copenhagen but certainly give it a good run for it’s money. I’m a little travel weary today and overwhelmed by the size of it and so I find a park and play with the hoop – it’s looking a bit battered since the Christiania party with bits of tape peeling off. Maybe I’m not being very sharp but I have at least five people tell me off at Stockholm station – the first being a man who just says ‘You can’t take your bike that way’. I say that I’m going to Malmo and he says ‘Oh you can take it to Malmo but not that way’ and walks off. ‘thanks, thank you, that’s very helpful’ I shout sarcastically after him but then a lady comes up to me and asks if I need any help and explains that I’m trying to get through the barriers to the Metro and that the main station is through a different set of doors. Then I negotiate several train people who tell me I can’t take the bike on the night train until I’m fed up of explaining that it folds and goes in a bag and so yes I can, before I find my train. The guard gets off and scowls at the newbike. ‘You can’t…’ he starts, I make my surely by now internationally recognized gesture for ‘it folds’ and he says instead ‘Did you check in at the main hall?’ ‘Yes!’ I say. I don’t know – I must just have an air of stupidity about me today.