Fifty years after the opening of Vällingby, Sweden’s world famous New Town from 1954, began its resurrection. After the glorious days when children and their mothers filled the community in the outskirts of Stockholm with life, other developments gradually drained the neighborhood unit from it. Less people meant that life was difficult for the little cinema, as well as for the shops. Vällingby was in need of new blood, and the pièce de résistance of the renewal would be a new department store designed by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB.
Red as a Chinese lacquer box, the construction stands as a precious object by the new entrance of the centre. With its intricate layering, a sense of depth is transmitted from the façade. The milky glass gets increasingly see-through as the white dots vanish towards top and exposes the red skin behind. A cool and thin cloth on a warm body.
The building is an image of the content. A home for the fashionistas, who will be caught like moths to a flame. No random additions were to disturb the tailored design. Shiny white letters in the red canopy is the only exposure of the companies inside. The house is dedicated to fashion brands and just as all these are gathered under the huge canopy, they are brought together in one common space inside. The only detached space is the black box in the east end. And why is that? Well, as the complex adheres to the urban pattern from the 1950’s, a pedestrian street cuts through the site and divides one retailing space from the large department store. The little black dress contrasting the grand ball gown.
The complex is erected on top of the subway tracks, something that did not exist when the project started. The main entrance is thereby facing the main access road, and the cutting edge 14-meter canopy works as a logotype for the new suburban centre. Vällingby has always been a symbol. A huge rotating letter V once marked the victory for the welfare state. The sign is still there, now as a symbol of what the place used to be. Today the logotypes shine brighter as shopping is the new icon.
If the exterior is dressed in a red satin gown punctuated with white lace, the interior shows its fancy underwear. The semitransparent theme continues. A pendant ceiling transmits a diffuse light, and the white pattern on the balustrades evaporates like mist in the morning. The large opening in the core of the building opens up towards the light. To ascend the space shall be like traveling towards the sun – as an airplane rising through the clouds.
The scheme for Vällingby was simple and straightforward. Rectangular blocks with shops on a large horizontal plane, decorated with circular patterns in paving stones and fountains. These elements are all present in the plan and detailing of the new building as well. Sadly, few of the buildings got the attention originally intended. With the refurbishment of the entire area and the erection of the fashion department store K:fem, some of the original ideas have been developed further and innovation was the icing on the cake. Sensitive, but most of all sensual. And of course it received an award: It was voted the best retail space in the World Architecture Festival of 2008
Address: Vällingby City, Stockholm
Architect: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB
Construction: Tyréns AB
Installations: PO Andersson Konstruktionsbyrå AB
Electricity: Electro Engineering AB
Lighting: Ljusarkitektur P&Ö AB
Commersial design: Centrumutveckling Håkan Karlsson AB
Client: AB Svenska Bostäder
Urban planning: Stockholms Stadsbyggnadskontor and White Arkitekter
Project and construction planner: Projektbyrån Stockholm AB
Area: 16 600 kvm BTA
Design year: 2003
Construction year: 2007 – 2008
Photographer: Patrik Gunnar Helin