I visited Hammerby Sjostadt this week. This is a new residential quarter of Stockholm constructed over the last decade, housing about 25,000 people in 10,000 homes.
The buildings are all apartment buildings from 3-6 stories, designed by different architects for a number of different developers.
The unusual element of Hammerby is the intention from the beginning to make the development 50% more environmentally friendly that the then average development in Sweden(1997). The decision was taken by the city council who owned the land to install infrastructure to assist in this aim before any buildings were built and sold.
– a tram extension connecting to the existing public transport system was procured and started,
– an underground waste collection system was installed,
– a connection to the existing hot water heating network was installed,
– a ferry was purchased to provide a link from the development to neighbouring parts of Stockholm.
All these decisions were taken by the city council, state, local council and energy companies. The project was set up and started, and developers were offered services parcels of land supplied with the required infrastructure. Restrictions were placed on the developers in terms of building materials they could use, the height and appearance of the buildings and the amount of residential and commercial space they could build. These additions cost the developers 2-4% more than other buildings. The benefits of the site, it’s high quality design and the availability of infrastructure mean that developers can sell the apartments for 25% more than other sites.
The money spent by the authorities in setting up the project is recouped by selling the development rights to the developers and through the taxation that the residents pay locally.
As a model for a large urban extension, an ecotown or a new development it is hard to find a flaw in the thinking.
The project had visionaries in it’s inception, but was also influenced by a practical attitude to getting things done.
The project is visibly successful and is well used and well looked after. Car ownership is low and car trips account for less than 20% of all trips.
The buildings are similar, but sufficiently different to be recognisable. There is ample open space even though the density is over 150 dwelling per hectare. There is a lot of commercial space and although it is all used, it appears that the mix of commercial to residential may be too high.
This is a well designed and executed development and represents one of the best examples in the world of a low carbon residential environment.