Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Green light for Swedish science cluster

STOCKHOLM. In one the biggest developments ever in Sweden, a new science cluster and residential district will be built on an “infrastructural wasteland” on the border between Stockholm and the neighbouring city of Solna.
Stockholm’s City Council last night gave a green light to the project that will run for at least 15 years and cost some 50 billion Swedish crowns (7 billion US dollars or 5 billion Euros) in public and private money.
Residents have been invited to a competition to name the new district. A winner will be announced later this spring. For now it’s called Norra Station (North Station) after an old railway station in the area.
The ambition is to create a world class center for life sciences. A number of research foundations as well as three local universities are involved. The Karolinska Hospital, a leading Swedish hospital, on the Solna side of the project will be redeveloped and upgraded to top international standard.
Some 36,000 workplaces will be located in the new district, which also will be a dense new residential area with 5,500 homes. Norra Station is expected to be completed by 2025.
“With this decision we are sending a clear signal to investors and researchers that we are welcoming their operations to our region”, says Stockholm’s Mayor Sten Nordin.
Most of the discussion around Norra Station has been focused on the plans for two high rise towers called Tor’s Towers (right)forming a new gateway into Stockholm. The 140-meter towers have caused controversy for two reasons. Some people don’t want high rises at all in central Stockholm, other accept the idea but dislike the proposed design for the towers.
Kristina Alvendal, vice mayor for city planning, recently asked architects to return to the drawing boards to come up with something more interesting.
The political opposition in Stockholm’s City Hall called for an international architect competition during last nights debate. The present plan has been developed at the city’s planning department.
However, an architect competition is unlikely since planning now will go ahead for a start of construction later this year.
Norra Station is just one of several big developments under way in Stockholm, a city destined for big changes in the decade to come.

Konceptbeskrivning: White Arkitekter
The New Karolinska Hospital will be part of a Swedish life science cluster.

Illustration of Tor's Towers above: © City of Stockholm

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