The collaboration between BIG Architects of Copenhagen, Denmark, and NOD Landscape Architects of Stockholm, Sweden, provides not only a solution to Slussen, one of Scandinavia’s busiest intersections but most importantly privileges the pedestrian and cyclist.
When the Stockholm City Council invited BIG and NOD to act as design consultants on Slussen, the direction given was to create a proposal that reconnects the historic Gamla Stan with Södermalm. Understanding the long legacy of previous attempts to solve Slussen’s traffic chaos, the team set out to create a single form within which the different modes of traffic are layered. The proposal touches the waters surrounding Gamla Stan and slowly terrace up using ascending and descending ramps to create a new, coherent area focusing on providing an attractive and functional setting for both movement and rest.
Currently considered inaccessible to pedestrians and cyclists, Slussen is a black hole in the heart of Stockholm. It is no wonder then that Danish-Swedish collaboration has made sure to offer cyclists as well as pedestrians easy access to and through the area. The proposal turns Slussen into an urban recreational area assuring easy movement for the citizens and tourists of Stockholm. Slussen will gain a whole new kind of urban space unlike any other in the world, where artwork, a summer’s midnight stroll and outdoor theatre can cohabitate with the need to move cars, buses, trains, metro, and boats. The strength of Slussen lies in its continual and varied movement which the proposed ramped landscape only underscores. The heavy traffic of cars and buses is carefully immersed under the rising hillside. Suddenly due to the submersed traffic, large areas have been freed and are made attractive to the entire city to enjoy. As a result, new opportunities for urban life are created.
The basic traffic system has already been developed by Nyrens Arkitektkontor as part of an architectural competition, with soft traffic and a public program on the top and with heavy traffic at ground floor level, storing away boats, buses, metro, cars and trains. But instead of separating the different levels, connected only by stairs and elevators in a traditional way, we propose to integrate all public, accessible areas around Slussen by interweaving the levels using descending and ascending ramps as this will allow people to move freely between the levels.
Pedestrian zones are designed to connect the already existing promenades and road crossings, and all areas of the new Slussen are as such accessible to pedestrians. The bicycle lanes follow the road as well as the promenade along the waterfront, and are pulled away only where the curvy bays of the new Slussen are created to leave space for pedestrians to enjoy the waterfront.
Today Slussen does not take advantage of its rising topography. Seeking to utilize its unique setting the proposal uses the terraced hillside to house kiosks, shops, and tourist information stands accessible through the network of ramps. In this way, a new and active urban area is created. In addition to the landscaped contours and pathways characterising BIG and NOD’s proposal, the dispersion of light has been instrumental in developing the site and the various levels. By day, natural light will pierce through circle shaped skylights into the lower levels. By night, the skylights will be illuminated from below. The expression will thus vary from dusk till dawn, from season to season and depending on the weather. This dynamic process and the continual hum of traffic will serve as the backdrop to a new urban form and regenerate life into the surrounding neighbourhoods.
There is an animation showing the complete program as well. I will put it up in a separate post as well.