Stockholm Central: A tale of urban transformation

Green transition 25 April 2022 Ylva Frithiofson Per Hammarström

Railways move millions, but railyards are a barrier between people and places. A massive urban redevelopment project in and around the historic Stockholm Central Station aims solve that dilemma. Here are the highlights.

8 mins

Stockholm Central Station, Sweden’s largest transportation hub, opened in the heart of the Swedish capital in 1871. Today it faces a makeover to keep pace with forecasted increases in rail travel, to improve intermodal connections, and to create an entirely new, vibrant multifunctional urban space. 

The makeover is part of a wider urban and regional mobility strategy that could significantly help progress sustainability goals. But doing so requires a shift in thinking about what a transport hub ‘is’ to what it ‘does.’ 

Ramboll and its partners are part of the winning bid to redevelop the station. The new area, called the Central City, will include six new mixed-use blocks and a partial rebuild of Central Station. Below, we explore three ways the development will drive environmental and social sustainability. 

1. Low-carbon hub for low-carbon mobility  

As the greenest form of high-volume transport, railways are essential for low-carbon lifestyles and economies. Railways produce fewer emissions, reduce road congestion, and can carry more customers and freight while using less energy than most other modes of transport. But Central City itself aims to be a low-carbon transportation hub too.  

Ramboll is part of the climate and energy team tasked with using data-driven, science-based targets to ensure the project has the smallest possible carbon footprint from a lifecycle perspective. This includes applying a climate-oriented perspective to each element of development—including measuring the degree of utilisation of the created premises, reusing old buildings and recycled materials, and using new materials with a low climate footprint. 

A key focus for Ramboll in the project is reducing embodied carbon, including for the project’s proposed deck, which covers the rails and most of the 35,000 square meter project site.  

To reduce carbon impact, the deck will use a hybrid steel-timber superstructure for the commercial buildings, with timber floor panels replacing higher-carbon systems like steel and concrete. Conscious of the larger sustainable economic ecosystem, the team switched some design elements in their plans from traditional concrete to steel from Sweden’s fossil-free steel mills for further carbon reductions. 

2. From a barrier to a bridge for residents 

To promote the public life of Stockholm, Ramboll is prioritising human dimensions and social conditions, so Central City works for current and future residents as well as visitors to the capital. This includes incorporating social elements related to the capacity, robustness, and traffic flows of multiple modes of mobility and transportation.   

The old central station was a barrier which divided the neighbourhoods around the station and made it more difficult for pedestrians to go from A to B. By establishing decks over the train tracks, the new stations will instead tie the city better together, without impacting the historic skyline.  

As the project will be built over many years and phases, it will link with other infrastructure projects designed to improve mobility and liveability. These include links with Stockholm’s subway and bus lines, air travel connections, and regional trains, as well as infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

3. Manage the value of natural capital 

The newly created urban spaces and low-carbon deck for this project have the potential to transform the area into an oasis in a dense urban setting. This includes improving biodiversity and ecosystem-related services which contribute to human wellbeing and overall quality of life. Ecosystem services vary from producing oxygen to soil filtration for water quality management, and so much more. 

As lead manager for the project’s ecosystem services, Ramboll will identify project-related ecosystem services and analyse how they are affected by the project’s design. Urban communities tend to value management measures for biodiversity and ecosystem services that emphasise cultural services, such as recreation, education, and cultural heritage. Since these cultural services can be difficult to quantify and place monetary values on, the work of the Ramboll team could be invaluable to demonstrate these aspects of sustainable development. 

The project is scheduled for planning consultations in 2023. 

To contact the editor of this article, email:
Mercedes Beaudoin, Senior Copywriter - Ramboll 

All images copyright Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners

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