The area of Värtan has a long industrial history of continuous use as a harbor. The site has been owned and used by the City of Stockholm since the 18th century for port operations and storage. The area was developed to be a main harbor for the storage of bulk goods, including carbon, ore, and iron. Värtan’s port expanded successively over time. In 1965, the harbor started to serve as a port for car ferries and is today Sweden’s largest passenger port, hosting extensive ferry services that connect Sweden to Finland, Estonia, and Latvia. The new Värtan Ferry Terminal and the green public park on the building’s roof will play an important role in the new residential area being planned in Norra Djurgårdsstaden, today and into the future. The new terminal is a landmark project—architecturally, recreationally, and environmentally.
Aim of the intervention
The main idea in the design of the terminal has been to create natural links between central Stockholm and the new urban area abutting the terminal, allowing city life to naturally flow into the terminal, and ensuring that visitors and residents meet a vibrant urban environment at the port and a unique urban space in the form of a public park on the terminal’s roof. The terminal is thereby a public attraction which provides for high-quality urban life. The unique location of the harbor, where city and ferry traffic meet, creates a hybrid public space. Due to the long industrial history and continuous use of the harbor, together with the development of the surrounding city, public parks are scarce in the area. To increase green areas within the district has therefore been one of the main sustainable development goals. This is one of the reasons why the roof of the terminal building was initially designated as a public park.
The tectonic expression of the terminal’s architecture is a homage to the shape of a moving vessel and the industrial environment—with large cranes and warehouses—that previously characterized the port. At the same time, the terminal has an ambitious sustainable profile, characteristic of the entire development of the area. Solar energy and geothermal heating/cooling are provided via the building’s integrated systems, making the terminal self-sufficient in energy terms. The passenger part of the terminal is raised to be at level with the urban zone, so it is easy for both pedestrians and vehicles to access. The sculptural roof of the hall supports three roof terraces that serve as public spaces where passengers, staff, and visitors can move freely through an open landscape close to the sea. A varied topography of greenery with stairs, ramps, niches, and cozy corners invite both Stockholmers and passengers to enjoy a stroll or to relax for a moment and take in the view of the ferries, the archipelago, and the city skyline. A restaurant on the top of the terminal functions as a meeting point and destination for visitors. The design of the roof is inspired by the surrounding Stockholm archipelago, a vast, windy, and exposed environment. The large scale and transparency of the space lays the foundation for the simple and uniform design that emanates from a central path, which is flanked by long, cohesive spaces. Every terrace level has been given its own color palette, which is captured in the blooming vegetation and which varies throughout the seasons. A cover of sedum grass sits beneath the high grass forming an urban meadow, and the choice of species and mix of different plants are intended to stabilize and sustain themselves for a long period.
An estimated four million people annually will pass through the Värtan Ferry Terminal, travelling to and from Finland and the Baltic countries. The firsthand experience of the terminal reveals a confident realization of a design vision, and demonstrates an innovative new typology, capable of intermixing fluid spaces for traffic and passengers. This is further enhanced through the large, seamless surfaces of the terminal, which weave inside and outside together. The terraces have, since their opening in 2016, been used for a range of spontaneous activities. The fact that these activities include yoga should not be a surprise: the park is a contemplative place, and already in its first season, the meadows were characterized by soft grasses and colorful flowers. The plants will be managed as a meadow and mowed once a year in the early spring. The project has taken into consideration the terminal’s interaction and cohesion with its surroundings, and the long-term durability of this big-picture solution. On the account of its unique location and special environment, the ferry terminal serves as a public attraction and a different type of park in this emerging city district—it is, as such, an innovative and new typology. Here, inhabitants, staff, and passengers meet, and the public space serves as both a local node and an international transit point, simultaneously.
Entrant office name: Nivå Landskapsarkitektur
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Architect building: C.F. Møller Architects.
Lighting: Black ljusdesign AB
Project location (Street, City, Country): Hamnpirsvägen 10, Stockholm, Sweden
Design year: 2010
Year Built: 2016