Järvastaden fascinated me from the moment I saw it. Riding the the bus on my way to Stockholm University, I was amazed by the big project I saw through the window. I couldn’t really asses it from the moving bus, but it seemed quite promising, considering the city-like buildings being constructed there.
When asking locals about the area, I got many times the same answer: it’s close to the city, they say, but it’s also a bad place. Stockholm’s website summarizes what the problem is:
“Between 1965 and 1975 a large housing project started in the Järva area, which formed part of the ”One million program”. The goal of the program was to solve the vast need of homes in the Stockholm region. In the years to come, the area struggled with bad reputation focused on social unrest.”
Järvastaden is a new quarter built in Järva, and part of Stockholm’s vision to uplift the Järva as a whole. Stockholm calls it ‘Järva 2030’ which based on the idea of creating varied urban environment, improving education, increasing the number of jobs, and raising everyday safety.
Järvastaden is a huge residential construction project, with more than 1,500 new apartments that are planned to be built there. And indeed, when walking the 15 minutes walk from Ulriksdal station, the closest commuter train station, toward the new quarter, it’s hard to grasp the size of the new project. This might also be the Achilles' heel of Järvastaden. It is all built from scratch, behind the million program buildings (The tall and dull social houses built here in the 1960s).
Don’t get me wrong, Stockholm is in a desperate need of more housing, and I would be the first to celebrate any new apartment built here. However, instead of densifying and regenerating the already built places in the area, the city chose the easy solution: building a new project on an empty plot.
The already built and populated part, the one closer to Ulriksdal station, is not bad. Fridensborgsvägen is the only street with storefronts, while the buildings behind it are residential-only, providing a calm living environment. However, Fridensborgsvägen still doesn’t feel like a “real city”, since not all buildings offer commercial use.
The northern part of the project, which is still being built, is not promising at all. I wandered there for couple of hours, and it was very hard to find a storefront: almost all the buildings in the project are residential only. On the other side, I liked the mixture of housing types: single-family homes and Low-rise modern flats. It feels like a place that can fill everyone’s bill.
Ulriksdal station is only few stations from the city center. There are two challenges Järvastaden is currently facing: the lack of good connections to Ulriksdal station and other metro stations in the area, and higher frequency of trains to the city. While the former can be easily solved with more buses and better bike- and walking-infrastructure, the latter is more complicated. The frequency of commuter trains to and from Stockholm has already reached its limit. Only when the “Citybanan” project will be finished (expected in 2017, but don't take my word for it), the frequency of trains will be raised.
Street Life ?/5
Too early to judge. I am not optimistic, since none of the streets built in Järvastaden seem to invite strangers to walk through them.
(Pictures: Lior Steinberg)