Exploring the world's built environments and seeking sustainable solutions.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stockholm: Thoughts on a Walkable City

What is walkability?

Walkability is seeing long distances on a map become short distances in practice. It is the act of drawing an individual into a place so well that he or she no longer considers the implications of transit, but views the journey to be just as invigorating and exciting an experience as the act of reaching the intended destination itself.


Across our stay here in Stockholm I find myself able to thoroughly enjoy the process of getting from place to place. I am able to leave the tension and stress of transit far behind me, and simply linger upon the many nuances of this great city's layout. Here are just a few.

ADJ-1565 The smallest of details feel very considered. If they aren't newly added -- such as these cobble stones -- then they are exceedingly well maintained, so that they prove charming rather than distracting, blending in with the rest of the city until one pauses to pay attention to them.
Rhythms or patterns arise across the many resources that line the waterways. Restaurants and food carts are consistently available, providing breaks in the longer stretches of walkway. Again, the small details are taken into account, be it cushions on restaurant steps or reclined chairs, adding a level of built in comfort the environment that is unique to every stop. IMG_1782
IMG_1558 The color scheme of the buildings and walkways is vibrant yet far from garish or excessive. The palette of oranges, reds, beiges, and other warm hues comprises the majority of city structures, with the exception of newer constructions of metal and glass, proving to be neutral complements to their colorful counterparts.
Contrasting the golden demeanor of the structural environment, greenery is prevalent throughout the city landscape, and not merely in the form of the occasional tree in a planter. Whole parks emerge over the course of a walk. Without even trying, without having entered the day with thoughts or plans of relaxing in a park, one can seamlessly transition from the hustle and bustle of everyday life into a tranquil street picnic. IMG_1568


The balance between buildings and green spaces propels me through the city streets. I find that I don't even need a specific destination to persuade me to walk about the buildings. The city has effectively become a destination unto itself, with its own momentum, and its own purpose, so that I no longer feel the need for a precise excuse in order to enter it.


Photos and text by Peter Alfred Hess
Peter is currently a student of Architecture studying at UC Berkeley
For more photographs and other works by PAH visit http://PeterAlfredHess.com