Thursday, March 04, 2010

Stockholm to promote new architecture

ARCHITECTURE. In the friendly battle between Stockholm and Copenhagen to decide which city is Scandinavia’s true leader in modern urban development, there are two distinct trends.
In sustainable city planning and building Stockholm is ahead, thanks to a long established tradition in robust municipal infrastructure like district heating, public transportation and waste management. That is why Stockholm was awarded the title European Green Capital 2010.
When it comes to an attractive green lifestyle and exciting new architecture, Copenhagen takes the lead with its bicycle-friendly streets and headline-grabbing young architects.
Now Stockholm wants to catch up in the architecture department.
Kristina Alvendal, vice mayor for city planning and housing, announced yesterday that the city is introducing a yearly prize for the best new architecture in Stockholm. The city’s residents will be invited to nominate candidates and then choose the winner from a field of five finalists selected by a jury.
“Today we are building the cultural heritage of the future. By paying attention to the best that is built we can further raise the ambitions when it comes to interesting architecture in Stockholm and contribute to creating both beautiful and nice cityscapes for today’s and future generations of Stockholmers”, says Kristina Alvendal.
The first winner, for the best building of 2009, will be announced later this spring.
There is a lot of ongoing urban development in Stockholm, but hard to pick any obvious favourites for the title. Perhaps the prize can be seen a veiled criticism of recent developments in the city and a longing for more exciting architecture in future projects.
Architecture buffs visiting Stockholm enjoy classic gems like Ragnar Östberg’s red brick City Hall from 1923 or Gunnar Asplund’s beautiful Public Library from 1928 (above left). The 21-year-old Globe Arena, the world’s largest spherical building, is also hard to miss.
But will modern office buildings, like Kungsbron 2 (above right) completed in 2009, stir the emotions of residents? We’ll soon find out.