Standing as perhaps the modern architect’s greatest challenge, urban density is – depending on an individual’s perspective – either ruling or inspiring nearly all major planning works in cities worldwide.
While these developments differ in their style and overall purpose, in Europe especially, there is one element that connects them: architectural stacking.
In order to create extra space in prime metropolitan locations where land packages are almost impossible to acquire without spending a small fortune, cities such as Paris, London and New York are looking to their roofs with an aim to revitalising dead space.
Visiondivision’s ‘Stockholm Stacked’ – or ‘Stackholm’ as one clever commentator has dubbed it – puts a unique spin on this kind of urban design practice. The Swedish architectural firm has put forward plans to alleviate the capital’s housing shortage by removing current height restrictions throughout the city to enable use of rooftops, courtyards and any free space that is deemed appropriate for development.
The plan outlines three different types of spaces that can be developed, known as ‘free zones’. These include ‘empty spaces that are ample enough; the ones with structures in good condition that can be built upon and courtyards with deteriorating houses that can be replaced by much higher establishments.’
Due to the fact that this framework is flexible and perhaps a little nonchalant, it has initially brought about concerns over architectural suffocation. These same concerns have been raised in Melbourne after certain zoning height restrictions were lifted and ‘air rights’ bought and claimed, meaning that many people living in inner-city apartment buildings may lose their views – or worse – their privacy.
These same issues are also worrying critics of the Stockholm Stacked plan.
While these concerns are valid, there is little chance the plan will go ahead without undergoing changes and amendments, if at all. It does, however, stand as a creative solution to dreaded urban sprawl, with cities only having to upgrade already existing infrastructure to cater to larger numbers.
The concept also stands as a symbol of future cities. There may very well come a time for smaller countries where urban sprawl is not even an option, leaving vertical planning the only solution to growth issues. Aesthetically, it strikes an interesting visual, one that is definitely appealing in its whimsy, even if its practicality cannot be completely guessed at.
Whatever the plan’s outcome, creative innovation should not be discouraged. Stacking offers a gutsy vision for land short cities, and plans such as Stockholm Stacked will surely be revisited in the future.