Hammarby Sjöstad (roughly translated: Hammarby Lake City) is a part of the inner city of Stockholm located on both sides of Lake Hammarby Sjisö which has undergone major urban redevelopment. When concluded, there will be 11,000 mixed-use homes designed so that whilst people live on the upper floors at street level there is every amenity a thriving city neighbourhood should have; a bustling mix of shops, grocery stores, bars, restaurants, cafés, bakeries, florists and gyms – anything you want, you’ll find here, including a number of schools, one of which is an important international school.
Hammarby Sjöstad is easy to reach; by bus, tram, free ferry or on foot (it’s just a short walk from Södermalm proper), and like Sutton Coldfield it features many green areas, including the Nacka Nature Reserve (similar but larger than Sutton Park). The scheme features renovated quays and walkways along the water.
The design is intentionally semi-urban rather than suburban, with distinctive green boulevards and waterfront ideally suited for strolling and busy with people day and night. The architecture is bright, simple and modern, with the focus on sustainable materials such as glass, wood, steel and stone. Motor vehicles are tucked neatly behind the main pedestrianized boulevards where they are conveniently accessible; an arrangement which could be replicated in Sutton with parking bays and bus lanes better integrated into the circulatory Loop system around the Town Centre.
Right from the start, the city imposed strict environmental requirements on all aspects of the built environment and transport. It is claimed that the entire environmental concept will halve the total impact so that Hammarby Sjöstad will be twice as eco-friendly as normal built development.
Relevant lessons for Sutton Coldfield are:
- Lively boulevards (rather like the Parade) with a range of commercial and community uses, with people living on upper floors
- A fully integrated green movement strategy with considerably less reliance on motor vehicles ensuring connectivity is very good
- Primary and secondary circulation where motor vehicles are tucked away on less prominent roads but with easy access to homes and businesses
- Connection to water . . and whilst Sutton is not located alongside open water . . it would be perfectly feasible to open up the buried Plants Brook as a special feature in the renewal of the Town Centre whilst acknowledging the historic meadow and mill pool in this low-lying part of the Town
- AND finally planning . . rather than reliance on market delivery and retail Hammarby Sjöstad demostrates by example how hands-on strategic planning can successfully balance community and business needs to create a vibrant and sustainable community
In conclusion while it may seem wishful thinking to compare our Town Centre to a Scandinavian Eco Town . . some of the basic planning principles and eco pedestrain-friendly approach of Hammarby Sjöstad can be seen to point in a positive way to a practical rethink where living, working and movement all fit neatly together.