New Slussen reaches a crossroads

Stockholmers are split on whether Slussen, the road, rail and lock system between Gamla Stan and Södermalm, is a masterpiece of 1930s design and engineering or a grubby concrete eyesore. Such polarity of opinion has now extended to the design for the 'New Slussen', which was revealed this week.

The winning proposal, ‘Streams’ by architect Johan Nyrén, consists of a new road bridge, a more concentrated traffic flow with roundabout junctions, two new water channels and buildings containing shops, restaurants, offices and flats. It is expected to cost 2.2 billion crowns, most of which will be stumped up by Stockholm authorities.

“It’s entirely unsatisfactory,” declared the opposition city commissioner, Sten Nordin, in Svenska Dagbladet. And in the same paper, Martin Rörby of the Cultural Preservation Board, said, “It feels disrespectful towards Gamla Stan. This solution needs to be improved.”

Meanwhile, Peder Alton, writing in DN, called the design “the most timid of the eight proposals considered.”

“What happened to the architecture?” he wondered. “This is more dry city engineering than architectural flair – far too little vision.”

Assuming all goes to plan, construction will begin in 2008 and the project won’t be complete until – at the earliest – 2015.

But one day into the eleven year schedule, things hit a snag. Stockholm County Council announced reservations about the scheme, described the existing Slussen as a “national asset deserving preservation.”