Swedish Genius: The Hammarby Model

Idyllic, isn’t it? Malmö and Hammarby Sjöstad… They’re on everyone’s tongues (or at least everyone following eco-development trends).

As NaturalSpaces.com says, “The city of Malmö on the western coast of Sweden has created one of the world’s most dynamic sustainable cultures in Vastra Hamnen. Stockholm has also 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.”

A spearhead for a future worldwide agenda… you don’t say?!

They rightfully call the movement ‘The Hammarby Model.’

Hammarby Sjöstad, an exciting new district in Stockholm, came out of the city’s tough environmental requirements on buildings from the start. As a result, Stockholm Water Company, Fortum and the Stockholm Waste Management Administration jointly developed a common eco-cycle model designed to ensure organic recycling throughout Hammarby Sjöstad. This model, as the city’s website says, ‘is the thread that binds together the entire environmental programme and demonstrates how the various technical supply systems are integrated.’

We here at Jaunt say, “Incredible!”

And when you see it for yourself, you’ll wonder why we’re not all flocking to Sweden. Then you’ll remember… Oh yeah, it’s cold. But we can tell you one thing. This sub-city of Stockholm is one hell of a genius Swedish idea (say that three times fast). The twelve-year long project which began about eight years ago is now almost at it’s completion and you’d be amazed to see that what was once an industrial harbor area home to derelicts is now a district of 8000 apartments intended to soon provide accommodation for 20,000-25,000 people. So far, so great. Re-construction re-creates jobs, in turn, this re-creates vitalization and a communal center. If that’s not cool enough, it’s almost 100% sustainable.

Västra Hamnen in Malmö is another new district occupying a former industrial area by the sea. Tucked at the end of the country on the Western coast, it’s the third largest city in Sweden (and used to be Denmark’s second. It’s original name was Malmhaug, meaning “Gravel Pile, interestingly enough). Malmö may be small, but these developments, entirely self-sustaining, are the future of art, architecture, and intellect.

A couple of other things about Malmö… it has the highest concentration of restaurants, per capita, is known as ‘The City of Parks,’ and architecture buffs, if you’re interested enough to take a peek up there, can check out the Turning Torso, what looks like a post-modern homage of sorts to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, designed by Spanish star architect Santiago Calatrava. The impressive Öresund bridge – which connects Malmö and Copenhagen – allows you to get that quick ‘Two Nation Vacation,’ (and learn a bit about sustainability in action).

If you look on Wikipedia, you can read all about Malmö, the German Hanseatic League notable for herring fishing and King Eric of Pomerania (once the area north of Germany and Poland on the Baltic Coast). He held power of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in the 1400’s. The entire province of Scania in the south eventually went from Danish to Swedish control after the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. The city was then, over the course of many years, home to shipyard constructions, depressions, and sadly, a very high unemployment rate. Now, government-funded projects intended to revitalize the once happening seafront area, are a source of renewable energy. Malmö also has the highest proportion of people with non-Scandinavian descent than any other Swedish city. Interesting to think about the relevance of this when you…

Look at the numbers:

Yugoslavia (8,791)
Denmark (7,826)
Iraq (7,101)
Poland (6,008)
Bosnia-Herzegovina (5,637)
Lebanon (3,309)
Iran (2,958)
Hungary (1,845)
Germany (1,767)
Finland (1,678)
Afghanistan (1,606)
Romania (1,542)
Turkey (1,445)
Chile (1,305)
Vietnam (1,144)

(C) Wikipedia

Makes you wonder about displacement, war refugees, and the real possibility for growth and re-vitalization, doesn’t it? Will the children of these immigrants feel Swedish? Does it even matter? Could Sweden be the newer, cleaner, more eco-friendly melting-pot of the world?

Preserving marine life in the surrounding areas, banning cancerous PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls), boat primers, weed killers, paper bleaching and photograph development, are all leading the discussions that allow a community to build wisely; in essence, thinking about mother-earth from the start. All new designs are approached with what they call ‘holistic integration’ which means they attempt to eliminate noise pollution to create a more peaceful spacial environment.

Curious how they do it?
This is ‘The Hammarby Model.’
(Click for a larger view)

Household waste is sorted into glass, paper, plastics, or compost (ie. organic waste, fish, vegetables, etc.) and for incineration. The waste is put into a vacuum system (one for each type of waste) and then it’s 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 waste is converted to bio-gas and, together with bio-gas from the local sewage treatment plant, it’s fed back into the houses to fuel kitchen cooking and transport (including the waste recovery vehicles and private cars). Nutrients from sewage treatment go to agriculture.


Over the next three to four years, the area of Hammerby Sjostad will ‘officially’ be completed. We can’t wait to see how this model factors into more developments.

The reason for the success?

Intellect and design savvy.

Remember… these are not only the great Vikings who conquered vast lands, forged earth from the sea (and brought us IKEA), but they’re also a population of multi-national survivors; the people who build nations… the immigrants.

High density accommodation + a relaxed spatial environment = The Future of Living.

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