Smart Magazine: Local secrets Stockholm

The Swedish capital, Stockholm, combines urban grit with lush nature and new design with historic architecture. Join us and architect Anders Berensson for a tour of the city’s top spots!

At around 900,000 residents, Stockholm is a mid-sized European capital. At the same time, the city offers a great deal of variety, not least in terms of architecture; from the Old Town’s narrow alleyways and thirteenth-century churches to the emerging urban development project Hagastaden, which combines apartments and office blocks with cultural attractions, parks, and cutting-edge research and medical centers. To find out more, we asked top Swedish architect and lecturer Anders Berensson to show us his favorite hang-outs: The result was a dizzying ride in the swift but spacious four-seater smart forfour, crisscrossing the city’s bridges and tunnels, that treated us to some of the best art, food, and nature the city has to offer.

So, Anders, where should we go to get a real sense of the spirit of Stockholm?
Anders Berensson: I’d recommend a long walk. Start at Nytorget, a square at the heart of the SoFodistrict of Södermalm, Stockholm’s southern island. Then head north to the commercial city center, before turning into Östermalm – the city’s most affluent district. Finally, make your way to Royal Djurgården, an island that’s home to historic buildings and galleries, but also an amusement park, an open-air museum, and extensive green spaces. Throughout this walk, you’ll notice significant shifts in architecture, fashion choices, and – if you dig a little deeper – even people’s political outlooks.

Why did you choose to start the day at Nytorget? What makes this place so special?
Anders Berensson: There are plenty of squares around Stockholm, but to me, Nytorget is the most popular one. It’s unpretentious with an artificial lawn, a small fountain, and a playground for kids. It’s just what people want! There are no grand statues or perfectly trimmed bushes here, but Nytorget is surrounded by great cafés, restaurants, and bars. I could easily recommend all of them, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Urban Deli, which serves an amazing traditional steak tartare.

Stockholm, Anders Berensson

Stockholm, Moderna Museet facade

And for those with an appetite for art and design: Are there any must-see galleries?
Anders Berensson: Yes, Moderna Museet and ArkDes – the Museum of Modern Art and the Architecture and Design Center. Lately, these two galleries, which actually share a space, have collaborated on shows that explore the intersection between art and architecture, including a recent Olafur Eliasson exhibit called Reality Machines. Right now, there’s an interesting and informative exhibition at ArkDes called Stay. Now. Then: Housing Questions and Answers for 99 Years. It’s on until January 2017. The good thing is that both museums recently abolished their entrance fees. What’s more, my architecture firm has been commissioned to design a new family room at the gallery. The aim is to help stimulate children’s interest in art and architecture.

Stockholm, Sven Harrys Konstmuseum

Stockholm, Anders Berensson smiling

And if you’re hungry for even more art …?
Anders Berensson: Then I’d send you to Sven-Harrys Art Museum. While it hosts exhibitions on classic and contemporary art, what makes it extra special is that there’s a replica of the eighteenth-century manor where Sven-Harry Karlsson used to live on the roof of this new and very modern building. He’s the art collector who founded the gallery, which also houses a design store and a restaurant with a terrace, and it sits on the corner of Vasa Park where Stockholmers go to sunbathe and play miniature golf in the summer – or to ice skate in winter.

Stockholm, Teatern von innen

Stockholm, Anders Berensson in front of Teatern

Right, time for lunch: Where’s the best place to grab a bite?
Anders Berensson: Teatern. It’s a really exciting new food court in the middle of an unassuming shopping center. Some of Sweden’s best chefs run stalls here and a personal favorite is Adam & Albin. They serve Japanese ramen noodles with Swedish flavors. A great combo!

Scandinavian design is en vogue. Where should we go to stock up on the latest styles?
Anders Berensson: I’d say head back to SoFo where there are lots of independent design shops, vintage stores, and brand boutiques like Acne. Check out Grandpa for designer clothes, accessories, and interiors, Dr. Denim for jeans, and Stalands for furniture.

All this walking, art-browsing, eating, and shopping can be quite exhausting. Where should we go to relax?
Anders Berensson: When I need a break from everything, I go to Hagaparken. It’s a vast park right outside the city center, but it feels just like the countryside. Here, you can swim in a cool lake, take a walk through a dense forest, or enjoy a picnic on a lush meadow.

Stockholm, smart forfour at the waterfront

Stockholm people relaxing in a park

smart forfour backside in Stockholm

And when the night falls, where’s the best place to party?
Anders Berensson: I have a 14-month-old son, so these days I know more about playgrounds than clubs! But when I do get the chance to go out, I choose Trädgården. It’s located underneath a bridge and the space really shows Stockholm’s full potential. We have lots of unused space in this city where people could create great things. It’s hard to build homes under bridges because of the noise levels, but they’re perfect for night clubs. Trädgården is really interesting since it shows what a future Stockholm might look like. It’s a night club, but they also host concerts, film festivals, and more.

Anders Berensson Architects was founded in 2006. Its clients range from the Indianapolis Museum of Art to the Swedish Center Party and the Museum of Gothenburg. The firm recently proposed a new city area in central Stockholm called Klarastaden, a dense green city on top of a train track area next to the city’s central station. Anders Berensson also heads a Master’s program at Stockholm’s prestigious Royal Institute of Technology.

Anders Berensson in Stockholm

Local secrets Stockholm:

Galleries and museums:
Moderna Museet
103 27 Stockholm
Main entrance: Exercisplan 4

103 27 Stockholm
Main entrance: Exercisplan 4

Eastmansvägen 10–12
116 31 Stockholm

Lunch spot:
Ringen Centrum
Götgatan 132
118 62 Stockholm

Urban Deli
Nytorget 4
116 40 Stockholm

Recreational areas:

Dalagatan 11C
113 22 Stockholm

Nytorgsgatan 36
116 40 Stockholm

Södermannagatan 21
116 40 Stockholm

Dr Denim
Bondegatan 46
116 33 Stockholm

Åsögatan 121
116 24 Stockholm

Night club:
Hammarby Slussväg 2