Sustainable Cities™

Hammarby Sjöstad: Integrated sustainability as a main focus

In the south of the Swedish capital Stockholm lies the newly built district Hammarby Sjöstad. Planning of the district focuses to a high degree on sustainability, and the latest environment technology solutions are integrated wherever possible into the area’s new districts. The result is known as the Hammarby-model, involving sustainable use of resources, the minimisation of energy consumption and resource waste and optimum use of recycling.

Wet Wood, 18 august 2009, venligst udlånt af Anders Ademark, Flickr.

Close to lakes, canals and the Baltic Sea lies Hammarby Sjöstad, a 250 hectare area located on a former industrial site. The project came into being partly because of a shortage of housing, and partly in connection with Stockholm's desire to post the 2004 Olympics. Stockholm did not secure the Olympics, but construction was already well under way and continued as planned. Some 8,500 flats have already been built and the plan is that when Hammarby Sjöstad is ready in 2017, approximately 26,000 people will live there in 11,000 flats.

One goal for Hammarby Sjöstad is to maximise recycling of rubbish and sewage. Things that are not reused will be used to generate renewable energy, e.g. in a combined heat and power plant. The objective is for consumption of water and energy in the individual flats to be halved by 2020 in relation to conventional dwellings built in 1990. In the long term, energy for the flats will be derived from renewable energy sources such as the sun, the wind, hydroelectric power, thermal heating, and combined heat and power plants will incinerate rubbish. Half the district's energy will be produced locally and 80% of the energy in rubbish and wastewater is to be recycled.

Sea of Reeds, July 27 2008, courtesy of Anders Ademark, Flickr

The architects have been thinking environment friendly solutions into the project from the outset. For example, solar cells are an integral part of the houses' facades, so they blend in with the building.. The electricity generated by these solar panels is used by an electrolysis system which produces hydrogen by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen (H2O  H2 O2). The hydrogen is used by a large fuel cell, in which it reacts with oxygen from the air. The process releases electrons which in turn generate electricity. The reactions within the fuel cell produce heat to heat water. The hot water is stored in a water tank and is distributed from here to the house's radiators. The clever thing about making hydrogen by means of the current from the solar panels is that in this way the solar energy can be stored and provide both power and heat.

The key to Hammarby Sjöstad's success is that each of the 12 neighbourhoods in the district have from the outset been designed as a cooperative effort between 2-3 firms of architects and a variety of investors, owners and developers. Together, they outlined what was necessary for the district to develop in such a way that its inhabitants could pay as much consideration to the environment as possible. A quality plan was drawn up for each neighbourhood in the district which, together with continuous assessment ensure that experiences are benefited from in the next plan. In this way, all parties are aware of how long the process will take and which initiatives have been taken.

This closely integrated process makes tremendous demands on the collaboration between the many different partners and professionals. On the other hand, the planners are sure that the new buildings are always being constructed using the latest methods and that the quality of the new residential areas is always optimal. The district is already incredibly attractive among Stockholmers - particularly families with children. This came as a surprise to the planners, who now face the challenge of meeting the families' specific needs, e.g. large indoor facilities and free spaces for day-care institutions and playgrounds.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014