naturalspace magazine : Sustainable architecture and the natural world: Natural Space Ltd  

Sweden Text

Ecological sustainability

The ecological sustainability section highlights the extent of the green infrastructure that has been developed around both Vastra Hamnen and Hammarby Sjostad and looks at the ecological strategy, energy, transport, materials and waste.

With a population of just under 9 million people Sweden has developed one of the world's most socially aware societies. For decades the population has enjoyed excellent health, education, childcare, transport, employment and retirement cultures. It seems fitting then that Sweden has tackled the issue of long term ecological sustainability head on. All the Scandinavian countries have been at the forefront of ecological sustainable development and recent developments in Malmo and Stockholm have taken this forward into the 21st century by taking the entire debate into the mainstream. The city of Malmo on the western coast of Sweden has created one of the world's most dynamic sustainable cultures at Vastra Hamnen and Stockholm too has risen to the challenge of a sustainable future with the latest developments on a much larger scale at Hammarby Sjostad. These developments hope to be a spearhead for a future worldwide agenda.

The sustainable approach in both Malmo and Stockholm was to recognise that sustainability on a large scale could better be tackled by creating big impressive green infrastructures. Infrastructures that would sit largely invisible at the heart of the communities. By creating a green stage, a familiar city fabric could be developed which takes people with it rather than casting them outside. This is often the case when creating smaller sustainable communities. An invisible machine at the heart of a new district that would look every bit as homogeneous and contain the very seeds of everyday life which people would come to expect in the 21st century. Temperatures in Stockholm and Malmo are often ranging between plus and minus 30 degree Celsius and so it is a remarkable achievement that Malmo has created a zero carbon lifestyle without sacrificing comfort or altering the way of life of the inhabitants in a noticable way.

With 100 percent renewable local energy, very strict control over material use, good waste management which sorts locally and converts to natural gas, efficient transport policy and good water management the green stages are complete. Stages that allows architects the freedom to concentrate on design and so help create harmonious landscapes that celebrate the natural world and enhance not just ecological sustainability but also social and human aspects of a sustainable society. The creation of areas of complete silence, of noise and of holistic integration have helped to complement the existing social fabrics and have done so in a new and delightful way.

At the heart of Malmo's infrastructure lies a single large wind turbine that provides the majority of the electricity both for the proposed 1000 apartments and for the business premises. The turbine is visible from the development but has been sited along the coast a few kilometres from the new area to prevent problems with any noise. The energy is fed into the local grid and is given and borrowed back whenever needed. The remaining electricity requirements have been supplied with approximately 2000 square metres of photovoltaic cells applied to the roofs and walls of some of the southerly facing flats and office areas.

Heating and Cooling

A heat pump produces most of the 6000 MWh of heat for the new area with the heat being drawn from the sea and rock strata. An aquifer in the form of under sea caves acts as seasonal storage for heating and cooling between summer and winter to provide the area with district heating in the cooler months and with district cooling in the summer months. Energy systems are coordinated with the districts waste systems to recover heat from the household waste to generate biogas. The biogas is fed into Malmo's biogas network which supplies biogas back into the apartments for cooking, for local transport and for running the waste removal vehicles.

The project entails an increased demand of 11 GWh of energy in the city of Malmo with a zero increase in environmental damaging emissions The energy initiatives are part of a EU campaign which has identified 100 areas in Europe to support renewable energy sources. Vastra Hamnen is one of the first selected to participate in the 'Campaign for Take-Off.' The City of Malmo has established a partnership with the power utility Sydkraft, Lund University and the Swedish National Energy Administration in order that the 100 percent energy target is met.

Stockholm energy

The total energy supply for the new community that will serve 30,000 people living and working in Hammarby Hamnen will be based only on renewable sources. The electricity content willl be based on solar cells, hydropower and bio fuel technology. All of the energy for heating will come from combustible waste from the area which will be recycled in the form of heat or from renewable sources and will produce a maximum CO2 content of 10g/MJ of heat. In addition climate affecting and ozone depletion properties are banned from the heating and cooling processes.The total requirement of imported energy will be 60kWh/m2 and from that electricity will represent 20kWh/m2 (50kWh/m2 and 20kWh/m2 respectfully from 2015).

Eventually district heating will be delivered from a combined power and heating plant based on bio fuel technology. An evaluation of 170 apartments is taking place to assess the benefits of a 'smart system' that will help residents understand more about their energy use. Equipment will be fitted that will help inform the residents of better practice and easy to use tools should help them to minimise energy use in the hope that considerable energy savings will be made. The 'smart system' (Ett Klokt Boende) BBI F20 is developed by Swetab AB.

Vastra Hamnen is connected to a highly efficient bus service which is driven by biogas. The stopping points are computerised and inform the users with an electronic time table which fine tunes revised times according to the traffic conditions. A car pool system is in operation and cars run on biogas. All of the appartments have been well provided with bicycle space and a safe network of cycle lanes have been introduced.

Stockholm Transport

Stockholm has a very impressive and large underground network serving the 1.2 million population. Fully modernised and in three separate underground levels it now links directly with a new tram line (Tvarbanan) emerging from the underground tunnels and running above ground into the heart of Hammarby Hamnen. The city is also served with numerous boat services which start right in the very heart of the city centre. A new service, The Sea Bus (Sjobussen), will shortly be introduced to complement the eco friendly nature of the developments that will run small biogas driven boats to and from Nybroviken in the city centre. A car pool system is in operation and cars run on biogas. All of the apartments have been well provided with bicycle space and a safe network of cycle lanes have been introduced.

A new cycle pedestrian bridge has been introduced to complete the new networks into Sodermalm area of Stockholm. Vastra Hamnen is connected to a highly efficient bus service which is driven by biogas. The stopping points are computerised and inform the users with an electronic time table which fine tunes revised times according to the traffic conditions. A car pool system is in operation and cars run on biogas. All of the appartments have been well provided with bicycle space and a safe network of cycle lanes have been introduced. Stockholm Transport Stockholm has a very impressive and large underground network serving the 1.2 million population. Fully modernised and in three separate underground levels it now links directly with a new tram line (Tvarbanan) emerging from the underground tunnels and running above ground into the heart of Hammarby Hamnen. The city is also served with numerous boat services which start right in the very heart of the city centre. A new service, The Sea Bus (Sjobussen), will shortly be introduced to complement the eco friendly nature of the developments that will run small biogas driven boats to and from Nybroviken in the city centre. A car pool system is in operation and cars run on biogas. All of the apartments have been well provided with bicycle space and a safe network of cycle lanes have been introduced. A new cycle pedestrian bridge has been introduced to complete the new networks into Sodermalm area of Stockholm.

Material selection

The scale of the developments in both Vastrahamnen in Malmo and Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm called for significant materials, construction and procurement policies. Strict frameworks for the use of materials and restriction on chemicals properties of materials were drawn up along with the suppliers' and contracters' involvement in selection processes. It was necessary to demonstrate for example that any material or product used could be recycled at the end of it's effective life.

The City of Stockholm has drawn up an environmental plan that details the current restrictions and guidelines for all new development in Greater Stockholm. This is the environmental plan for Hammarby Sjostad. The goals for the programme are,

Goal 1Environmentally efficient transport

Goal 2Safe products

Goal 3Sustainable energy consumption

Goal 4Ecological planning and management

Goal 5Environmentally efficient waste processing

Goal 6A healthy indoor environment

An english version can be downloaded from (Stockholm Environment Programme) A quality programme was drawn up for Vastra Hamnen An english version can be downloaded from (Quality programme Bo01)

All household waste is sorted at source into glass, plastics, paper, compostible (organic waste, eg fish, vegetable etc) and for incineration. The waste is put directly into a vacuum system (one for each type of waste material) and is sucked to underground offsite storage chambers. On collection days, the waste disposal vehicles suck the contents of the chambers out ensuring a clean airtight process.

The non recyclable or reusable waste is converted to biogas and together with biogas from the local sewage treatment plant is fed back into the houses to fuel kitchen cooking, and also as a fuel for transport (including the waste recovery vehicles and private cars). Nutrients from sewage treatment go to agriculture.

Sweden Location

Västra Hamnen in Malmö is a new city district occupying a former industrial estate by the sea on the west coast of Sweden. Within close proximity to the city centre and a beach the initial phase will be part of a much larger and more complete sustainable city district.

Hammarby-Sjöstad in Stockholm is a new district occupying a former industrial estate by one of the many sea inlets on the south side of the city. The former harbour area and semi derelict industrial area at Hammarby is to be developed to create a large and very ambitious district of 8000 apartments providing accommodation for 20,000-25,000 residents and 400,000 square metres of workspace providing 15,000 workplaces.

The overall area of Vastra Hamnen is 160 ha with Bo01 occupying 25 ha. When the phases are complete the accommodation will include 10,000 houses and space for a 20,000 population working or studying. At present the first phase has completed 559 housing units and 80 companies employ 6000 people. Public transport serves the area every 7 minutes.

The area will be completed over a twelve year period with an expected completion target of 2012. The recent housing exhibition BoStad02 opened its doors to the developments at the Sickla Udde, Sickla Kaj and Luma areas of Hammarby-Sjöstad where 2000 new flats have been created.

The traditional grand scale of Stockholm's existing city plan, the 70 x 100 meter block with 18 meter street widths have been adopted. This repeats what is a very successful formula to create high density accommodation within a very relaxed spatial environment.

Social Sustainability

The Social Sustainability section looks at issues of privacy and questions if they are misguided. Do we need to live in a private world or is a socially cohesive society more sustainable in terms of our physical wellbeing. We take a look at the issue of overlooking and the positive benefits that a higher density close knit society can bring.

One of life's greatest contradictions centres on the area of our personal freedom and our ability to relate to our surroundings. Many people long to move from the cities to the countryside to get that extra bit of freedom and open space. They then often find themselves hemmed in and cut off by the private culture that defines the boundaries and restricts our movements. The countryside does offer a visual and recreational amenity in terms of the open landscape, but because of extensive land ownership and farming, the majority of people are confined to their cars as soon as they leave their front gates. They often have to travel as far as city dwellers to get to where the access begins. The sense of freedom is often just a visual one whereas people's daily lives can become restricted while they live on the edge of society. The feeling for privacy often prevails and contact with neighbours becomes confined.

In contrast many city dwellers have immediate physical access to open space beginning directly at their front doors and have access to parklands and transport, culture and social interaction. Access to unrestricted countryside often begins in the heart of the city. The "lack of privacy" becomes the city's asset and social interaction becomes a viable alternative to social isolation.

The overhanging balconies at Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm heighten the common spaces below and encourage a greater sense of space and interaction. The 'overlooking' factor transforms the external landscape into a theatre where we can set out and go about our daily lives unrestricted.

The adjoining balconies at Vastra Hamnen in Malmo are designed to allow a modest degree of privacy while allowing interaction with neighbours.

The balcony becomes an external link between rooms in the flats thereby enhancing internal interaction between the living, eating and bedroom spaces.

The overhanging balcony extends the living space out over the public realm. It underlines the very notion of social interaction and the feeling of being in harmony with the bustle and activity of people below.

Human Sustainability

In contrast to the ecological and more technical aspirations of sustainability, the Human Sustainability section looks at the way delight as a commodity affects our feelings and becomes a necessary part of a sustainable future.

The very essence of architecture, the creation of delightful spaces and the way it affects us subconsciously is often sacrificed by our efforts to play with the rules of physics and respond to the traditional ways of creating ecological sustainable places. Small developments like Bedzed are probably on the threshold of places that can work and at the same time allow the delight that we humans need from our surroundings. On a much larger scale however the burden of designing within a sustainable programme would surely restrict our freedoms to create the extra human dimension that so often defines great architectural spaces.

Throughout the history of civilisation the 'burden' that designers worked with was often the very catalyst which defined the architectural movements. Architecture has always risen from the chaos, the rules the restrictions and the technical achievements and somehow made sense of it all in delightful ways. Architecture without the human element, the poetic interpretation, that which stirs moods within us, is really just a process of building that gives little joy.

Human sustainability, the need for mankind to hang on to their basic understandings, removed from the complexities of our modern age, is one of our most simple needs. The mind turns like a page and leaves the stresses behind, our complicated thoughts and worries melt for a snapshot of something fresher, gentler. The day begins as we control our moods and make our choices.

Hammarby Sjostad like Vastra Hamnen had a clear goal to create living conditions where people could tune in to their moods. Areas of silence where people can switch off from their daily grind are created along with areas of bustle and noise, where people can choose to immerse themselves in the city atmosphere. Here at Hammarby Sjostad, a balcony overlooks the promenade while the busy tramline thunders by. While noise on a constant basis can be very disturbing to one set of people, to another it is therapeutic, especially those whose lives or working routines are a bit more isolated.

Gunilla Bandolos has created a bridge sculpture at Sickla Udde, Hammarby Sjostad. It sits on the water allowing people the freedom to wander out over the stillness, whether warm and calm, or frozen and isolated.

"Skulpturen är en plats och föreställer inget annat än sig själv. Den ligger, uppträdd som en pärla, på den siktlinje som går genom hela Sickla Udde och pekar in mot staden. Liksom ett hus har den både en insida och en utsida. Taket är himlen. Insidan är introvert. Den erbjuder rum för samlade aktiviteter, gemenskap i avskildhet. Därifrån kan man klättra upp, och med skulpturens högsta nivå som värn, överblicka staden och vattnet åt alla håll. På utsidan finns sittplatser i alla väderstreck och i tre nivåer. Likt fåglar som samlas på ett fågelberg kan besökaren hitta sin egen viloplats med utkik."

"The sculpture is a place that represents nothing other than itself. It sits upright like a pearl, on the sitelines that go through the whole of Sickla Udde and looks towards the neighbourhood. Like a house it has both an inside and an outside. The roof is the sky. The inside is introvert. It invites group activity, fellowship in seclusion. From there we can climb up, and with the sculptures highest point as our defence, see out over the neighbourhood and the water in every direction. On the outside there are the seating areas on three levels. Like birds that gather on a bird cliff, visitors can find their own resting place and lookout point." Gunilla Bandolos.

"Mina former är geometriska. De geometriska formerna betraktas ofta som enkla. Men det krävs en plan och en avsikt och också särskilda instrument för att åstadkomma den helt geometriska formen. Man måste räta ut och korrigera det organiska. Trädgårdsmästarens arbete för att åstadkomma strikta former i trädgården är mödosamt. Det geometriska är i själva verket ett jämviktstillstånd som snart rubbas så fort det prunkande växandet tar vid. Filmregissören Tarkovskij formade sina pekfingrar och tummar till en rektangel, med filmrutans proportioner, och satte dem framför ögonen för att bättre se landskapet. Också de former jag jobbar med är instrument för att se. De beskär och ramar in naturen."

"My forms are geometric. The geometric form is often considered to be simple. But it requires a plan and intention and also special instrument to bring about the complete geometrical form. One must straighten out and correct the organic. A gardener's work to bring about strict forms in gardens is strenuous. The geometrical is actually in equilibrium, which dissolves as soon as the dazzling growth takes hold. The film director Tarkovskij shaped his forefinger and thumb into a rectangle, with cinematic proportions, and placed them over his eye to see the landscape better. The forms I work with are instruments to see with. The paring and framing in nature." Gunilla Bandolos

Marine Life

The Marine Life section looks at the Seas around Malmo and Stockholm and highlights some of the issues which could threaten the biodiversity of the waters.

The Baltic is one of the world's largest brackish seas and contrasts greatly with the Skagerrak and the Kattegat in both water depth and salt content. With an average depth of 55 metres and fed by large quantities of fresh water from numerous rivers, the Baltic has salinity at the surface of only 8 PSU and is almost totally enclosed.

There exists however complex water exchange mechanisms with the North Sea which means that it takes a great deal of time to replace the brackish water. This in turn means that any discharged pollutants from the 85 million population from the nine bounding countries, would remain or could become trapped over generations.

At present the rising intensive farming, heavy industry and increasing traffic discharge both poisons and nutritive substance into the sea. Over fishing and ongoing coastal developments intensify the problem.

Because of the low salt content in the Baltic very few species of alga can survive. The red alga is the richest group and can thrive in the deepest parts of the sea where salinity is higher. Their red colour allowing them to exploit the sun's blue green wavelength. This occurs in deep water and it is why the clear waters look blue. Many species cannot develop properly but spread by being loosened and swept away to continue growing in new locations. Higher forms of vegetation are scarce in deeper waters because of the lack of light but fauna, which can feed off dead organisms and detritus, thrives well. The most dominant animal groups in the baltic are bivalves, polychaetes and crustaceans. In the Kattegat and Skagerrak they are polychaetes, brittle-stars and echinoderms. Blue mussel is the areas most common species and most important contributor to the eco system. They have remarkable filtering properties and remove plankton from the water. A single mussel can filter five litres of water every day, the entire volume of water in the Baltic is filtered in this way every year. A combination of both fresh and salt water fish thrive in the Baltic's brackish water. Herring and cod make up 80 percent of the fish biomass. Sprat and pike are also dominant. Four horned sculpin remains from the time that the Baltic was an arctic sea. This contrasts greatly with the West Coast, which has over 130 species.

International co-operation at both research and governmental levels has ensured that all of the Baltic's bounding countries have become directly involved with the Baltic discussion through research and environmental supervision. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has suggested measures to reduce the pollution into the Baltic Sea.

Toxins, for example the cancerous PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls), boat primer, weed killer, should be preferably banned or exchanged for less harmful alternatives. Industries like paper bleaching and photograph development, should come to an end. Dangerous products like nickel-cadmium single use batteries and mercury thermometers should be reused and specially handled.

Nutritive substance should be composted and reused. Pollution from traffic and farming should be reduced. Sewage treatment plants should be improved. Nutrients should be exploited to grow for example mussels, alga and certain types of fish like pike-perch.

Stockholm's archipelago consists of 24,000 islands. It is well developed as a recreational amenity with small huts, youth hostels, summerhouses and cafes. But it's greatest asset is in it's contribution to the ecosystem where the survival of the sea birds, fish and mammals depend on the rocky nature and characteristic form of the island landscape. The inlets and diverse biotopes are also essential in the preservation of marine biodiversity. The many islands filter out substances from the land before they can reach the Baltic Sea.

Approximately 1.8 million people travel by excursion boat annually throughout the Stockholm archipelago. The fact that the Baltic has no tide allows small craft to operate throughout the coastal waters. It is planned to introduce biogas driven boats to operate as an extension to the local public transport system for inner city traffic. It is anticipated that 9000 passengers per day will use the service by the year 2010.


The Stockholm section looks at the way the developments at Hammarby Sjostad extend the typical Stockholm character out and into the new city quarter that lies to the south of the Sodermalm district. With a zero carbon lifestyle as a target, the subtle way in which the architectural style and scale echoes that of the capital city has underlined the freedom that the green infrastructure has brought to the design process. We look at the scale and composition of the area and include two projects by Nyrens Arkitektkontor that offer a modern interpretation of the Stockholm tradition.

Having the benefit of the positional freedoms that the green infrastructure has given, the developments at Hammarby Sjostad attempt to exploit the waterways in a similar manner to the many existing examples in and around Stockholm. In terms of scale, colour and texture what happens here can be easily mistaken as a near replica of much of what the existing Stockholm city fabric has to offer. It has of course been criticised for doing approximately that and is seen by many of the local architects and media as a lost opportunity to create a more dynamic architecture. A criticism that Vastra Hamnen in Malmo has escaped. This facade led architecture with it's white, yellow and red washed walls, it's repeating scale, proportions and rhythms gives only very subtle references as to which era it belongs. There is a feeling that the freedoms the infrastructure has given have not been fully exploited but instead a homogenous body of new building mass has spread into the once derelict areas. Despite this criticism there is actually a lot going on. The invisibility of the environmental programme is refreshing to say the least. The individual contributions of each of the architectural practices have given the homogenous developments some degree of individualism and variety.

The new district is like a mini city and the design process with many architectural competitions and contributors has opened up the debate about the way housing areas and commercial areas actually contribute to the human experience. An attempt has been made to create clear boundaries between the private and the public areas, an unequivocal way to move about and the way we physically organise work, shopping, living and culture has been explored. In effect the first phase of a well-structured mini city has been created which allows the full range of human and social feelings to thrive.

The six storey apartment blocks by Modern Line Arkitekter AB provide 97 flats and sit on the edge of the canal at Sickla Udde. The large areas of open glazing and extensive array of platforms and balconies blur the boundaries between the private internal zones and the silver birch trees outside.

While the new developments knit together to form a fairly strict homogenous district, apartments by Brunnberg and Forshed Arkitektkontor (left), AIX Arkitekter (centre), and Modern Line Arkitekter AB (right), show variety in scale, form and human experience.

The local boat service comes right up to the edge of the promenade at Sickla Kaj creating human delight as well as a stress free commuting alternative.

Two examples by Nyrens Arkitektkontor AB demonstrate an optimism that is grounded in the development of Stockholm's traditional architecture. While the nautical references are fairly obvious the general scale and handling of the facades owe much to what can be seen as a move towards the 1980's where Stockholm was influenced by post modernism. These examples though break free from the restraints of that period. While the uniformity and local colour of the render, and the similarity of metal roofs hold the developments together and show solidarity with the rest of Stockholm, the sheer scale of the large glazed openings and balconies optimistically shed their Stockholm traditions.

The departure from the Stockholm tradition is best appreciated from the interior where the scale of the glazed openings and balconies offer a lightness and an openness that somehow contradicts ones first impressions of the homogenous building mass of the area.

The plan shows an organisation that picks up on the openness of the cityscape that can be seen across Sickla Kaj. The smaller secondary spaces are linked together visually and functionally by the large decked balcony that turns around the perimeter of the apartment.

The yellow coloured render and metal roofs at Sikkla Udde have their historical reference in the Sodermalm district of Stockholm which lies immediately to the north of Hammarby Sjostad. The white internal courtyard facade demonstrates the departure from the historical scale and mannerism of Sodermalm's architecture.


The Malmo section looks at the variations that are possible with the looseness of Klas Tham's grid. We see how the green infrastructure has created a stage to allow architects like Santiago Calatrava and Ralph Erskine to do what they always do but still remain rooted to the zero carbon philosophy. We look at the quality of the spaces both in and out and how a green architecture can become an invisible part of everyday life. How it can bring people who would not normally commit themselves to a greener lifesyle into the fold.

Swedish architect Klas Tham was instrumental in the development of the conceptual plan that in his words is like a 'grid that has been distorted by the wind'. This very exposed site has been planned to exploit the sea air, the wind and the light and offers an arrangement of very high quality flats as an effective climatic barrier on the south west side of the district. Rising between five and seven stories the sea wall provides a defence for more tranquil protected and more silent areas beyond. The 'distorted grid' is an adaptation of the broad grid boulevards in the local district and allows a diversity of human and social experience within.

The flexibility of the plan has allowed some of Europe's most promising architects the freedom to help shape the new environment, such as Gert Wingård-Gothenburg, Kai Wartiainen-Stockholm, Ralph Erskine-Stockholm and Bertil Öhrström-Malmö, in corroboration with Moore Ruble Yudell-USA. The first phase of the development that was ready for the Bo01 (Living2001) exhibition created 500 new apartments and houses. The remaining development which includes a 190 metre high tower of flats and offices by Santiago Calatrava will complete a further 500 apartments.

This mixed-use development was the result of a Scandinavian architectural competition won by Utvecklingsbolaget Harmoni AB. Flats, hotel and café make up 3000 square metres of accommodation and show one of the few visible signs of sustainable elements. The large glazed south facing facade is shaded by external mobile wooden louvres which allow the facades to either close off or open up to the sunlight and give views over the public realm, the open water and parkland beyond. A mobile area of solar collectors on the roof provides further screening.

The public spaces provide shelter and allow the scale to change from the large wall overlooking the sea to a more intimate and protected environment. The looseness of Klas Tham's grid has clearly given the public areas a freedom that totally exploits the benefits of the green infrastructure.

The loose grid easily allows a variety of scale and interest at the heart of the new district. Here the five examples by (left to right) Mats Molen Arkitektkontor AB (background), a+Arkitekter, anon, White Arkitekter, Lars Asklund and Markus Janson Arkitekter AB demonstrate the flexibility that both a green infrastructure and a loosely formed set of guidelines can give in creating an ecological sustainable environment. The sustainable environment simply becomes part of the city fabric and fits easily into the lives of the local population.

The interior photographs allow us to see the quality of the internal living conditions that can be part of a sustainable society. This concept for creating sustainable societies shows that there need be no boundaries or major compromises to lifestyle and living conditions. It is worth remembering that with the green infrastructure in place the users of these extra homes will not put any extra demands on the environment whether from the energy used, from the waste deposited or from the heating and cooling that helps maintain the comfort during the Swedish seasons. Seasons that can easily swing in temperature from plus or minus 30 degrees Celsius. With this level of comfort and with measures in place to encourage good ecological lifestyles, the local population might just become a bit more interested in the green agenda themselves.

The Turning Torso by Santiago Calatrava is one of the most exiting tests of this new sustainable society. On completion, set for Spring 2005, the tower will reach 190 metres in height and will consist of nine cubes with five floors in each. The cubes twist like a torso towards the sea. Between cubes three and nine, 152 apartments will be created, together with office space.There are saunas, a gym and spa, a hireable function room on the 49th floor and hireable guest room on the 43rd floor, along with communal laundry and wine cellars for rent. The tower taps in to the green infrastructure and has access to the 100% renewable energy from the sun, wind, water and bedrock. Waste from the kitchen is converted to biogas for cooking and all packaging, newspapers, electronic and hazardous waste is separated. What is left is to be converted to energy in Malmo's waste incinerator and heat plant.

The tower obviously maintains the very strict building regulations and has very high quality thermal envelope and energy efficient equipment, together with low toxic materials and construction process. Every resident will be given a basic environmental training conducted digitally via the local television system. The two lower cubes will provide 4200 square metres of commercial space with own entrance and lifts over the ten stories.

The Turning Torso under construction shown from the sea wall The Turning Torso under construction with the first phase of Vastra Hamnen completed to the rear of the tower.

Computer generated image of part of office suite.

The office accommodation is wrapped around the tower's structural core while the large communal activity area projects out as the tower turns towards the sea.

Example of four apartment floor solution with large penthouse suite projecting out as the tower turns.

Ralph Erskine's (Erskine Tovatt Arkitektkontor) contribution to Vastra Hamnen is this seven storey corner stone to the sea wall facing out onto the Sound. Fifteen high quality apartments have been created with an overall floor area of 1,570 square metres and a construction cost of 38 million SEK (£2.9 million), or £1847 per square metre. The seven storey building mass reduces in scale with the introduction of Erskine's trademark of playful form and colour variations.

The apartments vary in size from 100 to 195 square metres and all have large glazed areas towards the Sound and balconies towards the garden and south. The open plan arrangement draws attention to the large glazed openings and to the open views across the Danish Sound.

  other text files : Oslo Life :  
  naturalspace magazine : Sustainable architecture and the natural world : copyright Natural Space Ltd 2004