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Replanning the City, Post-Modernism

Stockholm is seeking bids for a redesign of its city center, and the five plans in contention all seek to fix the damage wrought by modernist planning.

"Built in the mid-1930s, Slussen is a prime candidate for a re-examination of large-scale Modernist planning. Designed to link two sides of the historic city, its concrete entry ramps curl around a cylindrical office building before stretching over an underground bus terminal and the massive locks that regulate boat traffic between Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea.

In some ways the weaving of a mind-numbing range of transportation systems into a single integrated network made the project a tour de force. But the structure began to deteriorate decades ago, partly because of the poor quality of its concrete construction. Most planners regard it as a lesson in everything that was wrong with orthodox Modernism: endless swaths of barren concrete plazas and dank underpasses that seemed to invite midday muggings.

The competition encourages us to ponder those values with a fresh, unbiased eye. The most intriguing of the five designs can be separated more or less into two categories: those that try to bring clarity and order to the jumbled traffic systems, and those that seek to draw the bustling energy of the old city across the site."

Full Story: Bold Plans Prove That a City’s Future Needn’t Be Set in Concrete



Avant Gardists At It Again

Take a look at this proposal and tell me if anyone with an ounce of common sense can agree with Ourousoff's statement that it "evokes Baron Haussmann's grand arterial plan for Paris."

It looks like a slick, high-tech design for a shopping mall, not like Haussmann's Paris.

These proposals are all typical of today's avant gardists: meant to call attention to themselves as showy esthetic objects rather than to create good urban places.

Jean Nouvel's proposal looks like a pile of construction rubble. and the Nouvels of this world need the Ouroussoffs of this world to give it the utterly vacuous and pretentious justification that it "reflects a conviction that the collision of ideas, even more than architectural forms, gives cities their civilizing power."

Charles Siegel


I agree Charles its more Ourousoff BS. But look closely at Norman Foster's design... you'd never think Foster would design some classic urbanism, but he did. I'm very impressed.

Ourousoff is freaking out over it too, which he calls a "headscratching proposal". Ourousoff has probably blacklisted Foster for this un-avant garde design.

Mr. Foster’s entry also disappoints. It is dominated by a pedestrian bridge that corkscrews up over the lake before connecting to a big public plaza. The bridge would take forever to cross while presenting nothing special in terms of visual experience. The plaza, roughly the proportions of London’s Trafalgar Square, is framed by pretentious pseudotraditional buildings that are meant to blend into the surrounding context but only diminish it. A series of generic bridges for cars, pedestrians and bicycles are equally unimaginative.

(The design is reminiscent of his scheme for the site of Rossiya Hotel in central Moscow, and the two schemes make you wonder if Mr. Foster’s planning skills match his reputation as an architect.)

Foster In Stockholm

Jon: As much as I dislike saying anything good about Norman Foster, you may be right. I can't tell for sure without seeing a before picture from exactly the same point of view, but it looks like Foster may be restoring the traditional urban fabric.

Charles Siegel

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