The turn of the twenty-first century was a golden age in Swedish urban planning. Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm became a model around the world for how to design an attractive and eco-friendly urban environment. At the forefront of the new planning stood the architect Jan Inghe. Now there’s a new film that describes his work and considers how our cities have been developing since that time.
The awarded film follows Jan Inghe’s career, beginning with the development of the Minneberg district in Stockholm during the 1970s, continuing with Södra Station in the 80s, and culminating with Hammaby Sjöstad in the 90s. It thus captures the era when urban planning looked back to the traditional city to try to incorporate its many qualities. The story of these development projects, then, is the story of the return and revival of the city in Swedish urban planning.
“Thanks for this beautiful report“
Fiona Belt, Municipality of Leiden
The film’s creator
The film was made by architect Rasmus Wærn in collaboration with the film production company Andersö&Boman.
Wærn is an international award-winning architecture critic and the author of many books and articles about Swedish architecture both past and present. He holds a Master of Architecture degree and a PhD in architectural history, both from Chalmers University of Technology, and has served as an editor, exhibition curator, jury member, and expert consultant in architectural history on many Swedish construction projects.
Photo: Tomas Boman Editing: Tomas Boman Sound: Kajsa Andersö Music: Majo Music Production (Mats Olofsson, cello; Josef Cabrales Alin, violin and percussion; and Johan Ullén, piano) Sound mixing: Jan Alvermark Graphic design and still images: Ola Österling Jan Inghe’s writings are read by Krister Henriksson
Jan Inghe-Hagström, or simply Jan Inghe as he was universally known, was born in 1944 and died in 2005. He worked during a time of great transition and was a driving force in the movement to reclaim public space as a core value of urban planning. When he graduated from architecture school in 1970, the prevailing wisdom was still that buildings should be arranged in straight rows free of enclosing corners. With the development of Minneberg, Södra Station, and Hammarby Sjöstad, Jan Inghe showed how modernist plans could be married to the more intimate urban spaces of an earlier era.
The film An Other City is ready for distribution. It was filmed between 2016 and 2020. An Other City was made possible by generous contributions from the Jan Inghe-Hagström Memorial Foundation at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts; Stockholms byggnadsförening; the Stockholm City Planning Office; Sweco’s FFNS foundation for research, development, and education; the ARQ foundation for architectural research; Murmestareembetet; Einar Mattson AB; and the architecture firms of Lindberg Stenberg, Nyréns, Kod, Erséus, and Tengbom.
The film has be acknowledged at numerous film festivals worldwide, as the XV Istanbul Architecture and Urban Film Festival with 595 films from 75 countries, where it was awarded with the second prize. It has also been screened for educational purpouses at numerous planning departments.
After we repeatedly had to reschedule our meeting (in a cinema setting) due to Covid 19 restrictions, we finally saw the film “An Other City” by Rasmus Waern on March 10, 2022. “We” are a team of urban planners, architects and policy advisors from the municipality of Leiden.
The trailer of the film inspired us – An Other City – Official Trailer – YouTube – to talk about inclusive urbanism in a different way, a reflection on our own experiences based on everything that passed in the film. And although the Swedish government of course does not work exactly the same as the Dutch government, there were many nice comparisons to be made.
We have similar experiences and challenges when it comes to the design and use of public space, and the extent to which traffic can play a dominant role there. And, it is not only a matter of creating sufficient playgrounds but also making “traffic areas” safe, interesting and beautiful for all users and therefore also children.
With design and urban planning we can make people happier, that’s what we aim at, every day. At the same time, the planning process can be erratic and the question is always what degree of control you take or can take as a government. This, of course, depends on the cultural surroundings. And also depends on laws and regulations and the zeitgeist in which urban developments arise. And the extent to which there is the conviction that the private sector can help solve social problems.
In the course of the film, we also taste a plea for government control, and this is once again a very relevant discussion in the Netherlands with the upcoming introduction of a new the Environment and Planning Act.
In its application, we will again ask ourselves how we can best organize governance, how we let go (one of the aims of the new Act is “ja mits”) and at the same time protect the common good. And, what we can expect from real estate developers or better leave to them. In the discussion of this new balance, this film can continue to play a relevant role thanks to the reflections on realized urban developments.
In that respect, the work of Jan Inghe will remain relevant to study. That a well-designed city is about making relevant spaces with intimacy and a sense of collectivity, with integrated nature and plenty of space to play and socialize, creates happy residents is beyond doubt as far as we are concerned. Add to that the climate and heat transition challenges we face and Jan Inghe’s work is once again relevant. Thanks for this beautiful report.
Fiona Belt, Municipality of Leiden, manager Spatial Development team.