Reimagining cities – the case of Hornstull in Stockholm

Jul 1, 2021

Hornstull is one of the most polluted areas in Sweden and a hazard for pedestrians and people using lightweight vehicles. Consequently, we decided to reimagine the area together with the architect firm CF Møller.

Did you know that there is more space occupied by car parking than housing per person in Sweden? Cars also tend to take up disproportionately more space than other transport modes, such as biking, e-scooting and walking in cities.

Making urban mobility less car dependant is therefore not only important for reaching climate targets. It will also help make urban areas better to live in, healthier and safer.

Voi supports the idea of 15-minute cities, built for travelling via public transport, micromobility, and feet. By enabling car-free mobility in cities, space can be freed up for socialising areas, urban greening, and micromobility infrastructure. This means creating cities made for living, which has been Voi’s vision since we were founded in 2018.

At Voi, we think it’s time to call for a paradigm shift in urban development. We want to inspire our users and encourage citizens to think about what else urban spaces could be used for, other than car infrastructure. With this in mind, we decided to reimagine Hornstull, together with the architect firm CF Møller, to show an alternative of how cities can develop in the future. 

A realistic change

The street at Hornstull currently has five car lanes and lacks protected bike lanes, making it unsafe for lightweight travellers. It’s also a hotspot for air pollution, which causes 7,600 premature deaths every year in Sweden, and traffic noise that impacts human health.

The area connects the north and south of Stockholm. The fact that many people travel through this area by car can make this change seem dramatic. However, there are many reasons why this development for Hornstull is realistic, says Henrik Larsson, a landscape architect at CF Møller. Before choosing the location to reimagine with us at Voi, CF Møller researched the opportunities to transform areas that are occupied by cars.

“It’s probably the most polluted urban site in Sweden, where there is also a great need for strengthening green infrastructure.”

“Hornstull is a site for connection between the north and south where infrastructure for micromobility and walking lacks today. It’s probably the most polluted urban site in Sweden, where there is also a great need for more green infrastructure. Ongoing road development in the city makes the reduction of traffic in this area realistic,” says Henrik Larsson.

He refers to the project called Förbifart Stockholm, an underground motorway tunnel that will connect the north and south of the city. A similar conclusion was drawn by a project team at the consulting firm Sweco a few years ago. The group proposed reducing car lanes at the adjacent bridge Västerbron to free up more space for biking, walking, and urban greening.

Like most other parts of Stockholm, there’s good access to the metro and buses at Hornstull. Building more safe road and parking infrastructure for biking, e-scooting and walking gives the city the features it needs to enable people to live a fulfilling life, without being dependent on car trips.

In line with the city’s vision

“In the dense and mixed city, the obvious choices are walking, cycling and public transport.” That’s what the decision-makers in the city of Stockholm write in Vision 2040, a document outlining the strategic development for the city in the coming decades. 

The vision was approved by the political leadership in Stockholm last year. The ambition is to make the city one of Europe’s leading regions for biking, on par with Copenhagen and Amsterdam. That means access to safe bike lanes all over the city. The plan is to provide pedestrians with more space too.

“It’s great that the politicians in Stockholm have these ambitions to build more infrastructure for lightweight travellers. However, we think it’s an issue that shared micromobility is not mentioned in the city’s vision. Shared micromobility supports public transport in enabling car-free mobility in cities and thereby a redistribution of urban spaces,” says Erik Bergqvist, head of public policy projects at Voi

“Working together with Voi reminded me of the importance of dedicating space to support the development of shared micromobility.”

The fact that shared micromobility needs to be integrated into future urban planning is an insight that Henrik Larsson gained from working with Voi on this project.

“E-scooters have quickly become a part of the urban landscape. Working together with Voi reminded me of the importance of dedicating space to support the development of shared micromobility and ensure that it will become an organised part in cities“, says Henrik Larsson.

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