Sunday, October 24, 2010

you know I'll miss you when you're gone

here's a link to an inaccurate but most beautiful section of Slussen made as a collage of innumerable photos:

Slussen is a modernist traffic-circus sited between Gamla Stan (Stockholm's old town) and Södermalm due to be replaced by an incredibly bland proposal courtesy of Foster + Partners and Berg Arkitektkontor.

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even if the section doesn't show the actual Slussen it captures the Piranesian feeling of the place: the criss-crossing passages, the suddenly appearing depths, the vast empty spaces, the darkness and the damp. of course Slussen will be replaced, it would have to, wouldn't it? after all it isn't the bland and brightly lit white space we in this ambitiously middle-class part of the world like to identify ourselves with.

don't get me wrong – I like what they've done to that arcade below Hamngatan – but there comes a time when you just have to find a new way, when repeating the same formula once more is one time too many. and I'm pretty sure we're past that point a few years ago. rather than trying to raze to forget we should actively try to re-build and re-adapt. there can be times and places where a total rebuilding might be ok, but doesn't it all feel a bit too early 20th century?

to me Slussen is a weird breathing space between the posh/touristy Gamla Stan and the über hip Götgatsbacken – a semi-dilapidated piece of artificial ground entirely out of context with its present surroundings, full of weird holes and corners housing a diverse range of activities and businesses that could never afford to be anywhere else in the inner city. I guess the rock venue Debaser is the main exception to that rule, but on the other hand Debaser probably couldn't have started out anywhere else.

it's not that I'm against a redevelopment of Slussen per se, but when the proposal is worse than what is there now we have an obligation to stop it – to demand something better.

still, I know the battle is already lost - and it seems I'm on the losing side together with what's been dubbed 'the cultural elite' - but this is a major disgrace and the last straw in turning Stockholm into the upper middle-class reservation it has actually become (partly because of that 'cultural elite'). and that could be a great thing, if what's being forced out of the city centre could resurface somewhere else but the City doesn't really seem too interested in creating plans for anything but housing in the suburbs. thus the living city centre surrounded by dormitory suburbs will become an un-affordable dormitory city-centre surrounded by dormitory suburbs.

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