Stockholm through the keen eyes of two architects

Stockholm through the keen eyes of two architects
Photo by Aura Soriano
Aura Soriano from the Philippines and Raz Mseleku from South Africa are masters students in Sustainable Urban Planning and Design at KTH. Here the two architects share their impressions of Stockholm so far.
‘A rhythm like a clockwork’
 
By Aura Soriano
 
Traveling is a passion of mine, and as an architect, cities have always featured very prominently in my itineraries. I love to have time to just walk around a city, not necessarily to the famous landmarks, but to see the everyday scenes where people’s lives play out.
 
Asian metropolises, which comprise most of my travel experience so far, have always given me an impression of electricity. The glass skyscrapers and neon lights, the throngs of people and the cacophony of sounds – there’s a vibrant pulse that feels like a constant movement towards the future. Every scene seems to change within seconds.
 
Stockholm exudes very different energy than Asian cities. It’s steady, constant, yet still progressive – a rhythm like a clockwork. Hundred-year-old buildings face tree-lined streets, not towering but solidly grounded. I feel my own presence more in the human-scale urban design.
Photo by Aura Soriano
 
It’s amazing to study how culture and context can drastically shape cities, the stages upon which many of our lives play out. I feel like I’ve learned so much just from living in Stockholm so far, and yet it’s just the beginning. It’s an honor to have this opportunity to learn a new and different perspective here in Sweden.
 
A decade in the making
 
By Raz Mseleku
 
As a third-year architecture student in 2009, my best friend and I had an (unhealthy) obsession with Scandinavian architecture and design. We always told ourselves that one day we’d have to visit, or even better, maybe live somewhere up north. Ten years down the line and here I am.
 
And so the day came for me to leave Berlin, where I had briefly lived and worked prior to moving to Stockholm. My wife and I had visited Malmö and Copenhagen the year before, and so I already had my first taste of the sweet Nordic life. After reading many incredible travel blogs about Stockholm, I honestly felt like a little kid about to enter Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Three months later, I must say that Stockholm has lived up to my extremely high expectations.
 
I remember our first Sunday stroll in Östermalm. The beautiful elegant sunkissed houses, the trees lining the streets, everyone well-dressed on their way to brunch – it felt like a movie set that I was finally part of. I was overwhelmed by the immaculate historical architecture and pristine urban spaces as I moved through the various neighborhoods, each with its unique identity.
 
Though my wife and I missed Berlin’s edgy, artsy and alternative scene at first, it didn’t take long before we found our very own little Neukölln & Kreuzberg in Stockholm. Hornstull, to the south of the city, with its trendy cafes and restaurants, graffiti walls, Sunday flea markets with live street art and music felt much like Berlin. It’s starting to feel a little like home.
Photo by Raz Mseleku
 
As I sit writing this whilst reflecting on the journey so far, I smile knowing it’s well worth the ten-year wait. Stockholm with its efficient public transport, easy accessibility to nature and public spaces, diverse neighborhoods and pristine architecture has been something of a dream. I couldn’t be more grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity by the Swedish Institute.