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

Danish capital aims for Expo 2022

COPENHAGEN. The City of Copenhagen has now officially asked the Danish government to prepare a candidature for hosting the world Expo in 2022.
The city plans for the Expo to be a showcase for a planned new sustainable district called Nordhavnen, a CO2-neutral futuristic development under way on a huge, derelict port area just outside the city center. This sustainable new city district is expected to house 40,000 residents and 40,000 workplaces. Read more about it here.
“With an Expo we can hold on to the brand that Copenhagen got in connection with COP15 (the UN Climate Conference in December 2009) and show that Copenhagen can be a laboratory for development of big city solutions for CO2-goals locally and globally”, says Copenhagen’s new mayor Frank Jensen to Danish daily Berlingske Tidende.
“Such a showcase would also secure growth and export possibilities. After Nordhavnen in Copenhagen, the next step can be New York or Tokyo for implementing climate friendly solutions.”
If the plan comes through, Copenhagen would aim for a smaller version of the world Expo that would run for three months and attract 5-10 million visitors.
This year’s Expo in Shanghai, which will open in May, is a six month mega-event expected to be visited by 70 million people.

Copyright: CPH City & Port Development/COBE
Copenhagen's Nordhavnen as it may look when its time for Expo 2022.

New city plan "a departure from modernism"

STOCKHOLM. Last night the City Council in the Swedish capital Stockholm approved the new comprehensive plan setting up strategies for the city’s development in the next decade.
Kristina Alvendal, the ruling liberal-conservative coalition’s vice mayor for city planning, called the plan a return to “classic European urban planning”.
“This plan marks a departure from the modernist urban planning. We are creating the walkable city. The different parts of the city will be linked together”, said Kristina Alvendal (left) as she presented the ruling majority’s proposal.
The opposition from the left accused the majority of having “politicized” the comprehensive plan, but didn’t make a clear case in explaining that.
Last week I presented some of the main parts of the new plan in a series of reports that you can find here, here and here.
The plan is seen as an attempt to combine expansive growth with modern urbanity. The city itself is expected to grow from 800,000 residents to one million in the next 20 years. The Stockholm region is also expecting rapid growth.
The city will grow through densification, with new developments under way on old port and industrial sites as well as in a number of suburban nodes with good public transportation.

Photo of Kristina Alvendal: © Peter Knutson