Travel Guide: Stockholm
By Pol Martin
Stockholm is most definitely changing. After some slow years in the architectural production business, suddenly the city seems to have woken up, addressing the demands of a rapidly increasing urban population. New housing blocks and facilities are popping up all over the city, both creating new residential areas and helping to densify the city centre. We have visited some of the most interesting and inspiring new city buildings, and even some that are still under construction. This is not to forget some of the old classic masterpieces of the pre-modern Nordic neoclassicism as well as the modern architecture of Asplund, Lewerentz, Celsing and Sven Markelius. Stockholm is not to be missed.
Also known as the “Nordic Venice”, the capital of Sweden continues to surprise visitors for its undeniable beauty, great architecture and intimate relationship with the open water. The city’s natural location rests upon fourteen granite islands, where Lake Mälaren and Stockholm’s sea archipelago meet, providing a never ending collection of spectacular panoramas across the city and surrounding waterways. The setting of the Old City Hall surrounded by the cold Baltic sea certainly congers images of the famous Italian city.
Visiting the old city center Gamla Stan, the fancy Östermalm neighbourhood or the always hectic Södermalm is deeply advised. Despite the granite bedrock upon which the city rests, as well as the ups and downs of Stockholm’s many hills, the city’s extensive metro system will transfer you efficiently between locations.
This travel guide presents a selection of both new and old buildings, organised by area, to facilitate possible routes through the city.
Karolinska Institutet New Lecture Hall
Architect: Gert Wingårdh
Location: Solnavägen 1, Solna. Metro: St.Eriksplan
Surrounding the Karolinska Institute is the development of one of the biggest new city districts. It’s been baptized as Hagastaden and includes the gigantic New Karolinska University Hospital designed by White and Tengbom Architects as well as the yet completed twin towers Tors Torn by OMA. These two skyscrapers will become the third tallest buildings in Sweden.
For now, you might want to pass by the construction site to view the established New Academy House by Gert Wingårdh opening in late 2013. This iconic jewel formed in gold and black glass hosts the new lecture hall, classrooms and offices for the university community. It also hosts one of the most impressive over vert leaning facades in Europe.
Sven Harry’s Art Museum
Architect: Gert Wingårdh and Anna Höglund
Location: Eastmansvägen 12. Metro: St.Eriksplan
Located right in the middle of Vasaparken now exists a shiny museum designed by Gert Wingårdh with a minimalist brass facade. It was founded by Sven-Harry Karlsson to host his foundation and collection of art. It also contains shops, an art gallery, residential apartments and a restaurant facing the park.The top floors of the building hold a museum, copying the floor plan of an 18 -century manor house, Sven-Harry’s former home. There you will find his art collection, considered one of Sweden’s largest private collections of Nordic art.
Architect: Johan Celsing
Location: Torsgatan 19 Metro: St.Eriksplan
Not far from Vasaparken, this art gallery occupies the entire ground floor of a glass facaded building designed by Johan Celsing Architects as an addition of the Bonnier Publishing House, one of the biggest media groups in Sweden. The Bonniers Konstall displays multiple exhibitions by both well-known International artists and Swedish artists in the beginning of their careers. You will also find a book and design shop and a café/restaurant.
Tellus Nursery School
Architect: Tham & Videgård Arkitekter
Location: Huvudfabriksgatan 18-20 Metro: Telefonplan
Paletten is the Swedish name for this vivid yellow kindergarden. The facade panels are created with yellow sawn wood following the curved plan. Each classroom is painted in a different colour becoming visible at night through the windows. The building is located at the end of an old industrial/urban area and next to the Konstfack School of Art. The playground connects to a small urban green forest. This is one of the many fine architectural works that have been developed in this area of Telefonplan. From there, you might want to get yourself to the beautiful lakeshore area of Winterviken where you will find a café at the very same building where Nobel used to experiment and produce his famous dynamite.
Konstfack School of Art and Design Hall
Architect: Gert Wingårdh
Location: LM Ericssons väg 14 Metro: Telefonplan
The former Ericsson telephone factory built in 1936 by architect Ture Wennerholm became in 2004 the new stage for the famous Konstfack art and design school. The building’s original white interior was redesigned by Gert Wingårdh, as well as the black building in front: the Design Hall. Telefonplan suddenly became one of the most attractive areas for younger people and it’s still growing in popularity. The Landet restaurant-bar across the street has become quite popular.
Ericsson Workers Housing
Architect: Backström & Reinius
Location: Cedergrensvägen Metro: Telefonplan
Opposite the Konstfack, the functionalist modern housing of the former Ericsson workers is most definitely worth a stroll around. Designed by architects Backström and Reinius, (also the architects of one of the skyscrapers in the city centre) you can appreciate how precise every block is adapted to its specific location, even though at first glance they appear to look all the same.
Stora Katrineberg Housing
Architect: Kjellander & Sjöberg
Location: Liljeholmsvägen 12 Metro: Liljeholmen
This interesting housing project is placed between two existing buildings. Designed by Kjellander & Sjöberg, this residential building adapts itself well to the plan and form of the plot. In addition are some impressive balconies and a striking black facade.
Church in Årsta
Architect: Johan Celsing
Location: Bråviksvägen 47 Tramway: Årsta Valla Torg
On the top of a rocky hill, Johan Celsing designed Årsta church as an extension of a previous building from 1968. With sober lines and wise simplicity, this elegant church features the language of the best classic modern architecture and fits perfectly together with the existing building. Showcasing its concrete structure, the facade of red brick announces a very light interior space. Large high windows grasp the natural light from outside. The lower perimeter is clad in white glazed brick.
This is a classic modern building of Sigurd Lewerentz, one of the most famous Swedish architects. This was one of his last works which pushed him towards international fame. It achieved the Sahlin Prize in 1962 for the best building in Sweden. Lewerentz was a perfectionist and had outstanding technical skills. He experimented and improvised with the old construction in brick at a time when everybody else was experimenting with prefabricated materials. Lewerentz took this work very seriously with uncountable visits that became part of the building’s legend.
Architect: Gunnar Asplund / Sigurd Lewerentz
Location: Sockenvägen 492 Metro: Skogskyrkogården
A must see project that is truly part of history in the urban and landscape architecture spheres. Asplund and Lewerentz teamed up to create this cemetery within the heart of a forest. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Different strategically located constructions and landmarks visually draw visitors through the beautiful forest lanes, revealing different parts of the cemetery with this technique.Simply brilliant…
Architect: Norman Foster
Location: Tantogatan 77 Metro: Skanstull
Norman Foster and Ove Arup designed this railway bridge over the water that connects Södermalm with Årsta. The red coloured concrete comes from the traditional Swedish “Falun red” used to paint the classic Swedish houses. For the best view of this fantastic bridge walk next to the water and passing under the arches on the south shore of the Södermalm Island.
Architects: White Arkitekter
Location: Östgötagatan 100 Metro: Skanstull
This is no less than White Architects headquarters in Stockholm; built for themselves, this energetic and environmental friendly office building was previously nominated for the Mies Award. As you walk from the shore towards Foster’s bridge you will find this rectangular shaped building in glass, wood and concrete. An elevated passage connects the higher street level straight to the top floor of the building.
Architects: White Arkitekter. Landscape: Gunilla Bandolin
Location: Hammarbysjöstad Tram: Luma Parken
This new city development was planned by a collaboration on architects including White Architects. Located by the water and next to a ski slope, this popular and convenient area has been growing since its birth in the 1990s. The landscape of wooden docks was designed by Gunilla Bandolin. Located southeast of Stockholm, in front Södermalm this area is accessible by ferry and tram.
Architect: Johan Nyrén
Location: Artipelagstigen 1, Gustavberg. Boat: from Nybrokajen or Bus: from Central Station.
If you want to escape from the city to enjoy Stockholm’s nature, Artipelag Museum is the new place to visit. Surrounded by deep forests and the infinite islands of the archipielago, here you will find great international art exhibitions in a very special museum. This ambitious project was Johan Nyrén‘s very last building. The gigantic size of the building is perfectly disguised into it’s surroundings. Almost disappearing like a ghost, it embraces the rocks and the existing forest, preserving the site’s beauty.
Stockholm Public Library
Architect: Gunnar Asplund
Location: Sveavägen 73 Metro: Rådmansgatan
The Stockholm Public Library is one of the most popular projects of Asplund, maybe the most famous Swedish architect ever. We couldn’t leave this project out and like the Pantheon in Rome; it’s always worth a return visit.
National Social Insurance Service Building
Architect: Sigurd Lewerentz
Location: Adolf Fredriks Kyrkogata 8 Metro: Rådmansgatan
Just a few blocks away from Asplund’s Library you will find this state office building. Make sure to check out the round inner court yard, a pleasant surprise.
New City Center Skyscrapers
Architects: Sven Markelius
Location: Sveavägen Metro: T-Centralen
Stockholm has a very modern city center created in the 1960’s. The Hötorgsskraporna skyscrapers were part of this era’s development, planned by Sven Markelius, who built one of the five towers. The rest of the 61m high modern skyscrapers were designed by Backström & Reinius, David Helldén, Anders Tengbom and Lars-Erik Lallerstedt. On the entrance of tower number one by David Helldén, you will find a modern mural painting by the swedish artist Olle Bærtling.
Architect: Peter Celsing
Location: Sergels Torg Metro: T-Centralen
In the very centre of Stockholm and part of the same modern city centre area as the Hötorgsskraporna skyscrapers, sits the Kulturhuset, designed by Peter Celsing. Like the Pompidou in Paris, this cultural public center is located in front of “Plattan”, a big plaza with a very famous floor pattern made of large black and white triangles. We recommend you to explore the top terrace of the building. From here, you can visit the Moderna Museum and the Architecture Museum, both designed by Rafael Moneo.
Architect: White Arkitekter
Location: Nills Ericsons Plan 4 Metro: T-Centralen (Cityterminalen)
This gigantic congress hall was recently created by White Architects. The entire complex includes offices, a hotel tower and a spectacular lifted congress hall in one of the best locations of the city. Right between the central station and the beautiful Nordic neoclassic City Hall, and adjacent to the waterside, this building was built by the architect Ragnar Östberg in 1923.
Location: Regeringsgatan 66, Stockholm
Bistro meets Nordic
Niklas is a type of place where you can slip in for single main course as well as to enjoy a three or four course meal with good friends. All accompanied by soft music and the sound of cocktails being shaken in the background, this is a real Swedish treat.
Reserve a table at Niklas.
Location: Nytorget 4116 40 Stockholm
The place to meet at Nytorget
The Urban deli is the perfect place to meet, greet and get a quick bite to eat! The full range of deli specials is sure to please everyone in this fun loving atmosphere.
Check what’s on at Urban Deli.
Location: Kungsholms strand 157, Stockholm
They serve burgers!
A classic mix of American and Swedish fast food. Flippin burgers serves the best winter warming food in town. As you can see from the picture, even in cold and snow the queues can spill out into the street.
Check when Flippin Burgers is open here.
Location: Mariatorget 3, Stockholm
Stylish and perfect location
Perfectly located in the center of the city this hotel belongs to former ABBA-member Benny Andersson. Right beside you will find the Rival Theatre and the Rival Café: an artistic hangout in Mariatorget, the heart of Södermalm. By no coincidence all their ellegant rooms are fitted with the latest swedish musical productions.
Rival Hotel’s homepage.
Location: Ringvägen 98, Stockholm
Great views designed by White Architects
This hotel is located on the southern part of Södermalm, just one step away from the water. Make sure you enjoy the greatest views in this part of the city. The hotel is designed by White Architects, and you will find their splendid headquarters building on the other side of the street.
Clarion Hotel’s homepage.
Scandic Malmen Hotel
Location: Götgatan 49-51, Stockholm
Cheap and perfect location
This hotel is nothing special to speak of but is located in a great central area, perfect to call base camp from which to explore Stockholm’s architectural wonders. It’s cheap for Swedish prices too.
Scandic Malmen’s homepage.
Location: Riddargatan 6, Stockholm
Stylish and cool
This hip hotel has plenty of trendy décor and a lovely bar to keep you entertained between city outings. Another centrally located hotel that doesn’t leave you with empty pockets.
View what’s on offer at Story Hotel.
Location: Skoldungagatan 2 Stockholm
Ett Hem is a fantastically done boutique hotel. Originally a private home built in 1910, this home away from home is steeped in Scandinavian aesthetics of Carl Larsson and his wife Karin. A must stay for those looking for a more upmarket hotel.
Visit Ett Hem’s hompage to learn more.
Location: Vinterviksvägen 60, Stockholm
Enjoy nature in a historical building.
Great location to appreciate Stockholm’s waterfront and nature. This stylish café-restaurant is run by famous cooks Markus and Erika Aujalay. It is located in the old Alfred Nobel’s dynamite factory and its renovation is really well done. Just a few meters away you will find the old bunkers used for the dynamite tests. Great place for kids or just to take a break from the stress of the city.
Read more about it here.
Vintervikens Garden Café
Location: Vinterviksvägen 30
Summer coffee place in the middle of a garden
Just beside the Winterviken Café you’ll find Vinterviken Trädgârd Café smack in the middle of some urban agricultural plantations. This relaxed café is very popular among Stockholm’s citizens these days. Perfect in the summer.
Find more information here
Location:Birger Jarlsgatan 4, Stockholm
Classic and quality
Café Riche, founded in 1893 is a fine imitation of its Parisian model. Elegant interior supplements the café’s Swedish and international menu. A bourgeoisie feel sets the tone and makes for a lovely eating and drinking experience.
Find out more at Café Riche here.
Location: Nytorgsgatan 38, Stockholm
Café String is where the cool kids hang out! Perfect for a sandwich or a slice of apple pie.
Read more at spotted by locals.
Location:Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 10, Stockholm
The finest brew in town
Drop Coffee Roasters is an award winning roastery with the focus on creating a great tasting sustainable grown and traded coffee. Baristas serve the dark stuff with much care and attention. A must visit for all those Scandinavian coffee lovers.
View more insights here