Årstabergsparken in Årstadal is located just south of the central district of Södermalm in Stockholm. The area has come into focus in the debate over lack of space dedicated for children in our cities. As we build denser cities, the importance of creating accessible space for public use and parks becomes greater. Årstabergsparken is a perfect example of how to create accessible nature and play areas by refining and developing an existing site without losing any of its original characteristics.

The project is a hill-top park created from the undeveloped areas that have been left over after the settlement exploitation in the area. Much had to be resolved before the 12 hectares became a functioning district park. The areas were fragmented, the steep slopes made the nature difficult to access, connections within the neighborhood and the surroundings needed improvement and the fragmented ecological connections needed to be strengthened.

Årstabergsparken is a hill-top park that is based on the original character of the landscape, and the aim was to develop and improve the current conditions of the site and to make them more accessible. In the same time there were several requirements from the municipalities to preserve the ecologically valuable site and to increase biodiversity as well as to encourage the spreading of oak trees.

The walkways are the key to accessible recreation in the steep terrain. That is why we have created a denser network of accessible paths, comfortable stairs, sofas, benches, lighting and signs.

Different architectonical elements such as canopies, walls, platforms and equipment increase the ability to orientate through the vast area and to recognize the park as a cohesive site. Part of the project is to create opportunities for play on and along the walkways which makes the journey its own reward. These additions, for example, are shortcuts for the children such as a narrow staircase carved from the rock, a rope ladder, painted stones, and a slide next to the walkway that you can choose as a short cut on your way downhill and paintings on the walkway that show you how many meters above sea level you are at. For anyone who has been able to walk up to the park, new experiences await you on the hill with viewpoints and playgrounds.

The main idea is to get children and adults to use nature and natural elements for play. The areas have been refined in ways with simple means that make it more useful and accessible. Parts of the forest are thinned out, the wood is used for play and put in so-called pin terminals where you can go and collect material to build wood huts. Logs of fallen trees are used in balance games and for seating around barbecue areas. Other parts of the forest remain unaffected. In the middle of the park, where Sjöviksbacken makes a bend, a gathering place is located, with a ball court and activities for all ages with areas for urban farming, a dog yard and a gathering place.

The park is part of an ecological distribution corridor where the spread of certain plant and animal species is facilitated. Therefore we have provided the park with birdhouses, bats and insect hotels. All the new plant material are native species as oak trees and shrubs with flowering bushes and berries for biodiversity. All stormwater is managed locally on the site with open ditches and gutters. The water is delayed in reservoirs and a natural marsh area is excavated to create water mirrors.

The area of Årstabergsparken has been transformed from a patchwork of inaccessible leftover areas into a functional, cohesive and loved urban park with the contained characteristics of natural forest and hill tops. A beautiful example of how to integrate human needs in the dense city with the nature values of the existing site.

Name of the project: Årstabergsparken
Project category: Public Project
Project location: Årstadal, Stockholm, Sweden
Design year: 2013-2017
Year Built: 2015-2019

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