The streets of Stockholm are still littered with the fading colors of campaign posters from an undecided election. From the pink backdrop of feminist candidates, to progressive reds, conservative blues, and the struggling greens, to the slippery, slick gradients of the neo-nationalists. The politics of the public sphere have been unavoidable lately in Sweden, but a couple of heavy rains are slowly turning what’s left behind back into grey pulp. Meanwhile, Value in the Virtual, an exhibit by London-based Space Popular, blossoms with a polychrome array of signs, patterns, and symbols. The show has just opened at Sweden’s national center for architecture and design, ArkDes, under new its director Kieran Long. A new feature of the museum is a smaller gallery space—Boxen, a steel box designed by local practice Dehlin Brattgård—inside one of the two main exhibition halls. It is intended for fast-paced architecture shows curated by former ArchDaily editor James Taylor-Foster, and Value in the Virtual is the first display of work by a contemporary design practice in the new setup. The Space Popular duo, Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg, have grabbed the opportunity to build what they describe as their manifesto. It consists of six "typical" Stockholm environments—a downtown apartment, a vintage-styled coworking café, an exclusive nightlife district, a banquet hall, an iconic subway station, and a royal park—retrofitted with an added layer of augmented reality. They are rendered in 1:1-scale elevations printed on tapestries and hung from scaffolding in cornered-off spaces. Each corner is a mash-up with "walls" from two or three locations. Entering the exhibition space, you are invited to take your shoes off (to experience the printed carpets on the floors), and once inside, to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles. They are a window into Voxen, a parallel version of the same gallery space produced for Sansar, a social virtual reality platform. During the press preview, an online visitor had already found his way there for a peek. The avatar, dressed in a black bodysuit and a Daft Punk motorcycle helmet, showed up out of nowhere, mumbled a distorted "nice to meet you," and soon disappeared. In this realm, you get 3-D views of some of Space Popular’s scenarios: one is a version of Stockholm where public art is updated by the minute; in another the allegorical wall mosaics of the Nobel Prize venue are adjusted to tout recent scientific achievements; and in another a selective nightclub bouncer might actually let you in after all, if you upgrade to a nicer-looking "skin." For a casual visitor to be able to follow the narratives, though, some additional guidance would be welcome. Instead, the dense 3-D visuals are trusted to speak for themselves. An argument underlying Value in the Virtual is that architects could, and should, engage with the potential digital depth of architectural surfaces, as well as what comes with it: cognitive psychology, color theory, and the techniques to manipulate it. The exhibit seems to say, "Get on with it and design your own digital tapestry for the scaffolding that is, for lack of a better word, the real world. And if you don’t," the argument is, "somebody else will." And when augmented reality hardware moves from "a drawer on your face" to a casual pair of glasses, virtual dressing of space, and the market for virtual real estate, could become a big deal. “What is the role of the architect and designer in this transition?” a section of the wall text asks, when designers are “not bound by a requirement to shelter" nor “to the various physical limitations” we are used to? Either way, many architects are already engaged. Architecture school graduates, especially in the United States, are increasingly recruited by software companies before they even contemplate a career as licensed master-builders. Architecture is already part of the $137.9-billion gaming industry market, but perhaps not in familiar ways. The exhibition wants to look at what is going on while augmented reality is still in its infancy and to figure out the consequences of the tech before it is sitting on everyone’s face. Will visitors get it? Do the chosen scenarios illustrate what is actually claimed to be at stake? What is the real promise here? What is the threat? This stuff is touched upon in the exhibition brochure but not very evident in the exhibit itself. And if the argument is made more clearly in writing in Space Popular’s ten-point programmatic declaration, what does the gallery display add, except a VR demo and an institutional seal of approval? Maybe that’s enough. It’s a start to the conversation Space Popular wants us to have. Stockholm is normally very neat. Putting up posters is prohibited, and the rules are generally abided by. Political campaign material is the exception, and come election season, the city is carpeted with colorful platitudes and slogans. Public space is already a kind of virtual real estate, a moderated social medium that is regulated, traded, and hacked. It always has been, you could argue. Sure, the visual exploitation of it is augmented by new technologies, but the question, then, is if that augmentation does something that didn't happen before. The politics of augmentation are not that different to the conflicts of interest, power plays, and negotiations of spatial politics already being debated. A peephole into another world can make you forget where you are standing at the moment. Sometimes, a mirror would perhaps be more useful. Space Popular: Value in the Virtual, curated by James Taylor-Foster, is on view at ArkDes, Sweden's national center for architecture and design in Stockholm through November 18, 2018.
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After the revised scheme for David Chipperfield’s Nobel Center in Stockholm sailed through a city council vote in 2016, Sweden’s Land and Environment Court halted construction on the project on May 22. The $132 million complex was set to break ground on Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula and would serve as a permanent home for all Nobel Prize ceremonies going forward. Chipperfield’s revised design, presented in 2016 to address concerns that the Nobel Center would be too large for the historically sensitive district in which it sits, would see two stacked boxes wrapped in vertical brass louvers dropped right on the waterfront. Although the project passed an additional vote by the Stockholm County Administrative Board last year, the ruling has put a hold on construction over the building's size, color, and sensitive location. The City of Stockholm will reportedly appeal the decision to a higher court. In ruling against the Center’s construction, the court wrote that the building would have a negative impact on the area’s cultural heritage, claiming it would “cause significant damage” to the district’s environment, and “would affect the readability of Stockholm's historical development as a port, shipping and trading city.” Inside, Chipperfield’s scheme for the Center is anchored by an large sunken stage overlooking the Klara Sjö canal, framed by an enormous double-height window bay. When Nobel Prizes aren’t being awarded, the building would be used to host lectures, science-related seminars, regular exhibitions, and other important ceremonies. While the project might be temporarily stalled out, Chipperfield Architects released a suite of new interior renderings right before the ruling came down. The new images reveal the Center’s finalized interior layout and a surprisingly stark choice of materials. The Center’s smaller footprint has necessitated a tighter layout, and from the renderings, it appears that the building will be precisely programmed, with circulation moving around a central void between floors. Chipperfield has chosen to use raw concrete and will keep the building’s structural elements exposed, from the floor joists over guests’ heads to the concrete columns that break up the circulation areas. Even the sunken theater appears to be paneled in precast concrete (no word on how that might affect the acoustic properties). AN will follow up on this story as the case proceeds.
Brought to you with support fromLocated approximately halfway between Stockholm and Copenhagen, the city of Jönköping is situated at the southern end of Sweden's second largest lake, Vättern. Swedish architects Tham & Videgård Arkitekter designed two urban housing blocks that aim to balance private domestic interiors and a vast landscape with a screened balcony threshold. Titled Västra Kajen, which literally translates to West Quay, the waterfront project is the result of an invited competition from nearly 10 years ago. Rather than a row of standard housing “slabs,” the apartment units were assembled into two compact volumes. The architects say these buildings urbanistically help to establish a “solid position” that is proportionally acceptable both to the city as well as the adjacent lake, while minimizing the building envelope area for their ambitions to minimize building energy usage. An outer layer of terraces surrounds the perimeter of both buildings, providing every unit with a generous portion of outdoor space. These balconies are contained within a transparent screen of anodized aluminum that diffuses daylight. The system is composed of arched shapes that create alternating open and filtered views, offering a buffer zone between the intimate domestic interior of the apartments and the vast scale of the landscape outside. By shifting the voids in the screen every second level, a characteristic pattern emerges that unites the six floors into one distinct cubical volume. Both apartments are organized around a large vertical atrium with a top-lit stairwell to delineate a central social space that doubles as a circulation stairwell for the units. This atrium hall naturally preheats fresh air, contributing to overall energy efficiency of the building. Notably, the majority of the apartments are located at corners of the building, benefiting from good views and light. The two buildings are set at an offset angle to one another, to deliberately open up the inward facing sides to further prioritize daylight and views. The angle is determined by the geometry of the property, which accommodates a road that follows the edge of Lake Munksjön, a smaller body of water that taps into Lake Vättern by means of a harbor canal. While both six-story buildings are detailed similarly, subtle differences add variation to the project. This begins with the orientation to the siting of the building but extends to the interior geometry of their atria—a square cube volume in one building and a cylindrical volume in the second building. The aluminum screen and trim details further delineate the two buildings, finished in a dark and light anodized bronze color scheme.
After winning commission for the project in 2014, David Chipperfield and partner Christoph Felger's Nobel Center (or Nobelhuset) has endured a turbulent journey. In September last year, Chipperfield had to curtail plans for the Center, located in Blasieholmen in the heart of Stockholm, after it had garnered fervent opposition. It was reported that thousands had signed a petition stating that the building's scale was inconsiderate given the historic site's sensitivity. Caroline Silfverstolpehe of the Preserve Blasieholmen network, lamented the building, described it as a “giant colossus—a de facto convention centre on the mediaeval quayside pillaging everything in its path.” Now, however, the project has finally been given the green light after the city council voted 54 to 43 in favor of the Chipperfield's altered design. The vote, which Lars Heikensten, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, described as a “resounding yes,” came after planning approval was awarded last month. Provided there are no further appeals lodged against the project, ground could break along the Blasieholmen waterfront by 2017. Construction is set to take up to two years being completed by 2019. The project when amended last year was due to open in 2018. Located on the Blasieholmen peninsula on the edge of the Klara Sjö canal, the Nobel Center will host ceremonies for the natural science, humanities, and peace effort Nobel prizes as well as acting as a civic meeting place. In doing so it will be the first building ever to be dedicated to the event. In a statement on the modified project, David Chipperfield Architects said in September that “the modified design integrates the nobel center even better in its urban context and establishes a lively interaction with the citizens and visitors of Stockholm.” When AN first covered the story, the competition jury commented: “The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The facade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan.” “I understand that it evokes much emotion—to build in the inner city is difficult. It is difficult for the simple reason that we love our city. But I think that this knowledge centre could be something we should be proud of,” said councillor Magnus Nilsson. “I am convinced that the building in itself and the activities that will take place there will be highly appreciated,” he added.
Amidst the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference, numerous cities announced questionably large goals to reduce carbon emissions. However, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Madrid, have backed their goals with concrete plans for extreme traffic regulation, ranging from a car-free city center in Oslo to free public transportation in Madrid.
Oslo's City Center to Be Car-Free by 2019
On October 19th, Oslo’s newly elected city council announced plans to turn the city center, within Ring 1, car-free by 2019. To do so, at least 37 miles of bicycle infrastructure will be established and protected, and all interfering or free parking spaces will be removed.
The plan will also include a new metro tunnel and end the extension of E18 to the west. Lastly, motorists will be charged a rush hour fee. Through these bold implementations, the city hopes to halve emissions by 2020 and remove 95 percent of emissions by 2030, as AN covered here. As a first step, the City of Oslo will stop all its investments in companies that produce fossil fuel energy.
Stockholm Royal Seaport to Be Fossil Fuel Free by 2040Since 1990, the City of Stockholm has lowered emissions by 44 percent, despite being one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Recently, Stockholm announced a goal to be fossil fuel free by 2040. Stockholm is one of three finalists in the Sustainable Communities category of the C40 Cities Awards. Stockholm's recognized project, Stockholm Royal Seaport, is one of Europe's largest urban development areas and aims to limit carbon dioxide emission below 3,000 pounds per person by 2020. By 2040, Stockholm Royal Seaport is expected to house 12,000 new residential units and 35,000 workspaces, in addition to becoming fossil fuel free.
Amsterdam to Prioritize Local Traffic at the City CenterEarlier this year, the Amsterdam city council agreed on a new design for Muntplein Square, but recent studies reveal traffic in the city center should be limited even further. A car number plate analysis revealed that 20 percent of motorized traffic in the city center is to access surrounding areas, 15 percent is to access areas further outside the city, and 30 percent are just circulating—taxis looking for customers or people in search of parking. The city council therefore agreed to implement further traffic limitations. The new plan will direct unnecessary traffic in the city center to outside roads and prioritize local traffic, creating more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Taxis will experience the largest extension in travel time—roughly six minutes per vehicle each week. Residents and commercial vehicles will have an additional two to three minutes of travel time each week. Although the city council has agreed upon rerouting city center traffic, they will not vote until 2016. If approved, the plan will be implemented before the end of the year.
Madrid to Monitor Air Quality With Strict Traffic RegulationsThis year, Madrid received an F, 58 percent, in the Soot Free Cities rankings, and later announced plans to enact some of the most rigorous anti-pollution laws in the world. On days when air quality falls below a designated threshold, half of cars will be banned from the roads, drastic speed limits will be implemented, and public transportation will be free. According to El Pais, these measures would have a daily cost of $2 million, and if monthly and annual transit pass users are refunded for the day, the daily cost would rise to $4.4 million. Although these numbers are dreading to a city swamped in financial crisis, studies reveal the city’s pollution is responsible for 2000 premature deaths per year, and therefore the matter must be addressed. If these four plans are approved and successfully implemented, their measures may become a pattern across the globe.
David Chipperfield has curtailed plans for his design for Stockholm's Nobel Center (or Nobelhuset) just five months after winning a competition for the project back in April this year. In a statement on the modified project, David Chipperfield Architects said that "the modified design integrates the nobel center even better in its urban context and establishes a lively interaction with the citizens and visitors of Stockholm." When AN first covered the story, the jury comments from the competition were: "The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The facade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan." Sited on the Blasieholmen peninsula on the edge of the Klara Sjö canal, the Nobel Center will host ceremonies for the natural science, humanities, and peace effort Nobel prizes as well as acting as a civic meeting place. In doing so it will be the first building ever to be dedicated to the event. Despite a reduction in size, the idea behind the project remains intact. The building has become slightly more legible as now onlookers can gaze into all floors from the exterior, meanwhile the top floor responds to the surrounding typologies. Surrounded by slithers of opaque glass and metal pilaster strips, the facade according to the architects, "envelopes the building like a dress." This feature is meant to establish visual connection with the city and buildings surroundings. Other changes to the scheme include the implementation of a south terrace and a new plaza inspired by the nearby Blaisieholmstorg Square on the north side. The program includes an auditorium, a museum, conference facilities, educational spaces, and offices, as well as a restaurant, a bar, café, and shop. The focal point of the building is the auditorium which has also been developed during the alteration process, with the intention for it to be the future venue of the Nobel Prize Ceremony for Sciences, Literature, and Economic Sciences. The building is currently set to open in 2018.
The roster of cities across the world going car-free is growing, joining Paris, Stockholm and Dublin
The concept of car-free city centers is fast spreading throughout Europe as increasingly gridlocked thoroughfares render the private car intolerable. Brussels, Belgium, has announced the development of pedestrian boulevards in its city center—with a ban on cars effective from June 29, 2015—where the city will stage recreational and cultural activities throughout the summer. A new traffic circulation plan will be test-driven, literally, for an 8-month trial period, during which the city will submit a request for an urban planning redevelopment permit. In the meantime, expect the development of eight distinct temporary spaces to enhance the appeal of a car-free city—from a welcome space with picnic tables, a dedicated area for rollerskaters and bikers, a stage at the Place de la Bourse, and a game area for kids at the intersection of Marché aux Poulets street. Stockholm, Sweden, well-reputed for having Europe’s highest share of clean vehicles, will host a one-day car ban on September 19 to galvanize citizens to envision life in the city without four wheels. Automobiles will be barred from the streets of Gamla Stan, the partially pedestrian “old city” of Stockholm, to the perpetually thronged Sergel’s Square, as well as roads around the central station and some of the city’s surrounding bridges. The ban is the Stockholm's contribution to European Mobility Week, a project by the European Commission that seeks to promote sustainable transportation. Over 200 cities will participate this year, touting various green initiatives. For instance, Ridderkerk, in the Netherlands, will hold Groene Voetstappen from September 14–18, during which children will be expected to walk and cycle to school. Meanwhile, Mosfellsbær, Iceland, will start a widespread distribution of bike maps, create new bike trails near Mount Esja and Reykjavik city, and launch a pilot project offering tourist bus services between the main attractions of the municipality. Appetite to reappropriate the roads has spread even to Mumbai, where car-free Sundays on a scenic, oceanside road are a much-anticipated affair on roads that are ordinarily lethal to cyclists and pedestrians, some of them lacking sidewalks and choked with vendors or parked cars. Given the proliferation of cities subscribing to car-free ideals—even those lacking public transportation networks sufficient to replace the private car—New York City’s passivity on this front becomes even more stark. On June 18, Mayor de Blasio announced a ban on cars at Central Park north of 72nd street and the West Drive of Prospect Park starting June 29 and July 6 respectively, but these vehicle scale-backs are minor in comparison, especially for one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the USA. New York does set aside half a Sunday three times a year for its popular Summer Streets event where Park Avenue from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park is temporarily shut to cars. This year's event kicked off over the weekend with a large slip-n-slide in Foley Square among other attractions.
The Traneberg Bridge in Stockholm once possessed the world's largest concrete bridge vaults. That was in 1934 following it's completion based on a design from Swedish Modernist Paul Hedqvist. With its size record long surpassed, Swedish firm Visiondivision are calling for alterations to the structure that would garner another wave of notoriety for the bridge some 80 years later. Spanning the Tranebergssund River, the bridge connects a central island of Stockholm city, Kungsholmen, to an outer suburb. Since the 30s the bridge has grown in size to accommodate increased vehicular traffic. The expansions, however, have served to alienate pedestrians using the crossing. Seeking a creative alternative to walking beside a busy highway, Visiondivision is proposing the space beneath the bridge be used as passage for those traversing the river on foot. Such a re-purposing would require minor changes to the extant structure with stairs, fencing, and proper lighting rendering the underbelly usable. The pillars of the Traneberg come ready-made with a hole that would allow for uninterrupted passage along the vault. In the eyes of Visiondivision, the site's potential goes beyond simply creating a more pleasant pedestrian circulation. Renderings show red concrete stairs doubling as seating for films or art to be projected or displayed on the surfaces of the bridge's pillars, though noise and pollution from the road above could have an impact on such activities. The new foot-traffic could also justify the presence of small commercial kiosks, the designers added, to be located on the flat portions of the underside abutting both ends of the vault. How the project will account for the trolls known to frequent bridges in the area remains unclear.
The Nobel Foundation has officially launched an international design competition for the creation of a Nobel Center Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. An architectural idea in existence since the 1990s, the Center will serve as a venue for the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, as a space for exhibition, public education, and meetings, and as a symbol of the honorable achievements of Nobel Laureates. Previously, the Foundation released its list of twelve architectural concept winners. These anonymous entries were judged on general building design, structural relationship with the waterfront site on the Blasieholmen peninsula, and shaping the urban context for the proposed functions of the Nobel Center. Now, three firms’ proposals have been shortlisted in a second round, as possibilities for the overall winner. David Chipperfield Architects, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor, and Wingårdh Arkitektkontor are required to submit more detailed design plans for further jury deliberation. The final decision is to be announced in 2014 and the Nobel Center hopes for a grand opening in 2018. Nobelhuset David Chipperfield and Christoph Felger, David Chipperfield Architects - Berlin, Germany The jury comments: The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The façade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan. A Room and a Half Johan Celsing, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor AB - Sweden The jury comments: The proposal is a coherent, classically proportioned building that connects to the surrounding cityscape. Because the building is placed at an angle to Hovslagargatan, this creates an attractive open space near the entrance. The proposal also leaves ample room for a waterside promenade and outdoor public areas. In many ways, its materials and appearance are well adapted to the purposes of the building. A P(a)lace to Enjoy Gert Wingårdh, Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB - Sweden The jury comments: One of the foremost qualities of the building is the openness of its entrance level. Its glass façade is inviting and creates close contact between outdoors and indoors and between urban life and the activities in the Nobel Center. The grand stairway is a classic element that can give the building a dignity that fits the identity of the Nobel Center.
The Nobel Foundation, the body that administers all activities involved in the delivery of the prestigious Nobel Prize, has shortlisted 12 architecture firms to partake in an international design competition for the new headquarters in Blasieholmen, Stockholm. In addition to providing a global headquarters, the establishment will also include a visitors center where the public can explore the natural sciences, humanities, and peace efforts of the United Nations. One of the key factors for the Foundation in selecting the architects to participate involved "their ability to work in intricate urban environments where historical context and the natural environment must be considered with sensitivity." The 12 selected firms include: - 3XN, Denmark - BIG, Denmark - Herzog & de Meuron, Switzerland - Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor, Sweden - Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, France - Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter, Denmark - Marcel Meili, Markus Peter Architekten, Switzerland - OMA, Netherlands - SANAA, Japan - Snøhetta, Norway - Wingårdhs arkitekter, Sweden. - David Chipperfield Architects, England/Germany. At this stage of the competition, all submitted entries are anonymous, and the renderings are available in a public exhibition at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. The winning design proposal will be announced during the spring of 2014. The design proposals:
Tired of hearing about building integrated photovoltaics? Well, the next wave of energy-producing architecture may look quite different. Strawscraper, a project currently underway in Stockholm, will see a building coated in a hair-like material that harvests energy from the wind. The process is known as piezoelectricity. Designed by Swedish firm Belatchew Arkitekter, Strawscraper is an addition to Stockholm's Söder Torn building, which was completed in 1997. Once transformed into the Strawscraper, the building will stand at 40 stories tall and will act as an "urban power plant," according to the architect's website. As the name suggests, the the building's facade will be coated in thin straws, which will be agitated by the wind in a continual flowing movement. At nighttime, the building will be mde even more lively with colored lighting illuminating the swaying straws. This type of wind energy technology is much quieter compared to wind turbines and is able to collect energy from mere breezes. The Strawscraper will also feature a public observation deck offering views of the city below.
BIG won’t let its ambitions be impeded by the laws of physics--namely, gravity. For a competition to plan and design the area around the Hjulsta Intersection, a massive highway infrastructure project just north of Stockholm, BIG teamed up with firms Grontji and Spacescape to create “Energy Valley,” and their winning master plan addresses not only the area around the highway interchange but also above it. The plan's surreal defining feature is “a reflective, self‐sustaining hovering sphere mirroring Stockholm as it is, new and old, creating a 180 degree view of the area for the drivers on their way in or out of the city.” Covered with photovoltaic film and tethered to the ground, this mysterious giant orb would supposedly generate enough solar and wind power to keep itself aloft while also providing power for over 200 surrounding houses. The orb floats above a man-made valley that incorporates a variety of natural environments, from forests to wetlands. “The Energy Valley is a cross‐over between urbanism, landscape, architecture, art, and infrastructure into a new neighborhood of Stockholm. Harnessing the momentum of the massive investment in tunnels and highways and putting the excess excavation to use as a man‐made valley, we create an interdisciplinary hybrid of logistic, economic, environmental and social infrastructure,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. Oh, yes, there's a bike path, too. In the invited competition BIG beat out the Norwegian landscape firm Snøhetta, Danish landscape architect Kristine Jensen, and the Swedish firm Erik Giudice Architects. The scheme certainly fits Ingels' “hedonistic sustainability” approach, but if this fantastical idea actually comes to pass, we’re betting his future work will leave earth behind altogether for the final frontier.