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Architecture in Stockholm. The Ericsson building in Kista Science Park, exterior.

Photo: Visit Stockholm

Categories: Tourist attractions

Architecture highlights in Järva

Publish date: 1 November 2022

Järvafältet and its surrounding suburbs are filled with interesting architecture from different eras, styles, and purposes. Within half an hour of walking, you can go from the modern office blocks of Kista to passing through family-friendly suburbs with historical landmarks and green space in between.

The average Swede might be surprised that architecture is a reason to highlight the suburbs around Järvafältet. This area is mostly known for being part of the "miljonprogrammet"; the plan Sweden had to build one million new homes in the 60s and 70s, and is often critiqued for unimaginative design.

Architecture in Stockholm. Akalla torg in northern Stockholm.
Pictured is Akalla torg, one of Sweden's many residential areas built for "miljonprogrammet" ("The million program"). "Miljonprgrammet" was a massive undertaking in the 60s and 70s to construct affordable housing, roughly 1 million new homes, for Sweden's growing population.Photo: Visit Stockholm

That would be a disservice to the urban planning that went into these areas. The neighborhoods in these upper reaches of Stockholm were originally built on land used by the military. As such, planners could design each residential area from scratch. They are highly livable with plenty of pedestrian access, playgrounds, and space for people to be in between the apartment blocks.

It is hard to pick out a particular highlight of said planning however, many of these apartments and housing styles were designed with function in mind first and foremost, with tourist attractiveness set low down on the pecking order. If forced to pick out just one area, then I would suggest the streets around Triangelparken in Kista. The exterior architecture is intentionally oh-so-slightly different on each building to break up from the monotonous nature that "miljonprogrammet" is often associated with.

Arcitecture in Stockholm. The Kista Science Tower Skyscraper in northern Stockholm.
Kista Science Tower is the third tallest building in Sweden, and the tallest in Stockholm.Photo: Vasakronan / Gustav Kaiser

Kista is more famous for the architecture in its business quarter rather than the residential though. The offices in Kista Science Park are dominated by innovative tech companies, start-ups, and university students. Approaching Kista on the metro you easily spot the triangular Kista Science Tower glistening in the sunshine as you're pulling into the station. About a three-minute walk through Kista Galleria puts you at the base of this 32-story behemoth. Top tip: while it's generally an office space inside, the building has a typical lunch restaurant open to the public. Going out for a reasonably priced lunch is a large part of office culture here in Sweden and Glaze offers a very authentic experience of such a setting.

Architecture in Stockholm. Victora Tower in Kista, exterior.
The hotel Scandic Victoria Tower is located next-door to Kistamässan congress hall, and is a popular destination for convention visitors who need to stay the night.Photo: Stockholmsfoto / Ola Ericson

This 32-story building isn't alone in reaching for the skies in Kista. Another seven or eight-minute walk from Kista Science Tower will take you to the base of the Scandic Victoria Tower. Completed in 2011, this 117.6-meter tall hotel has nearly three hundred rooms to accommodate those visiting conferences at the conference center Kistamässan next door, the home of events such as Stockholm’s annual Comic Con. The hotel is worth visiting, even if you're not staying the night, for one particular reason - the sky bar. Up on the 34th floor is a bar that offers a unique scenic vista of Stockholm in three directions. The view makes this bustling city of a million people feel like a village.

The view makes this bustling city of a million people feel like a village
Ben Robertson

For architecture on a different scale, I would head up to the end of the subway's blue line to Akalla. I've written passionately about my love of Akalla's car-free city planning before. One area, in particular, stands out for being architecturally unique and enchanting. Known as Trädgårdsstaden (The Garden City) this patchwork of terraced houses has a unique history. The buildings were originally built in Lund, in the south of Sweden, and were transported by train across the country. Each home is therefore relatively narrow at just four meters wide. The houses here are arranged into square plots with each house sharing a communal garden filled with slides and swings for local children to play together, helping to create a community feel.

Nowadays the area is "K-märkt" which means the area is protected for its cultural-historical value, meaning the buildings must be kept in the same styles and colors that exist today. What I love most about having this on my doorstep is walking through the weeks before Christmas, when each neighbor adorns their house in twinkling lights to ward off the winter darkness.

Parks in Stockholm. Old farmhouses in Husbygårdsparken in the northern suburb Husby.
Scattered across the northern suburbs you'll find several old settlements – some several hundred years old. Pictured here is Husby gård, built in the 19th century.Photo: Rinkeby-Kista Stadsdelsförvaltning

Scattered across the hills of the area are also much older buildings from a much older era, many of which are used by different local community organizations on a day-to-day basis. Lika Akalla by and Husby gård. For the most unique experience, I would recommend picking out one of the special dates when Norra Järva Hembygdsförening opens up their cafe in Porkalaparken, which only happens a few times a year on scattered Sundays. There you'll get a chance to step back in time to experience architecture built before the area was densely populated with the tens of thousands that call Järva home.

Architecture in Stockholm. The residential buildings at Rinkebyterassen, built over the E18 freeway.
The first residents of Rinkebyterassen moved into the neighborhood in 2019. The apartment blocks are built over the busy E18 highway, and almost extend out into the nature of Järva.Photo: Alm Bostad / Bjurfors

My final highlight takes you over to the other side of Järvafältet and the new buildings on the edge of Rinkeby with Rinkebyterrassen. This modern building juts out onto the edge of a nature reserve and provides amazing views for its residents across the rolling hills towards Kista. What is truly genius about this construction is how it's built over one of the busiest motorways in Sweden, E18. It hides the traffic away from the public eye, and the building's size and shape provide a focal point at the end of the newly redeveloped Rinkebystråket, the main street in Rinkeby. This design draws people along the entire length of the street and from there out into nature.

About the author

Ben moved to Stockholm in 2011 after falling in love with the city while Interrailing as a student. Settling in Akalla at the very edge of the city, Ben has the best of both worlds. Stockholm is small enough that public transport gets him to the heart of Sweden's capital in less than thirty minutes, but out here nature is on his doorstep, with hares and deer roaming freely. "I remember those first years living here," Ben recalls, "when I would spend my weekends maximizing my public transport pass to explore parts of the city I hadn't yet seen. There is something different to love about Stockholm in every direction."

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