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Inspirational things to do, Perfect places  |  08 June 2019

Spotlight on Stockholm.

Few things are cooler than tremendously hip Stockholm. Super cool, stylish, sustainable.

Design centre and self-proclaimed capital of Scandinavia. If cities were boyfriends (or girlfriends for that matter) then Stockholm is a keeper; successful, stylish, intelligent, fun yet super considerate. Marriage material for sure.

I recently spent the weekend here with my husband Ben and discovered that zipping about the city on two wheels like a local is the only way to get about. But I don’t mean on bicycles, I’m talking scooters, electric scooters.

Let’s be clear, we are both well into our 40’s but these are not for kids. Strictly over 18s only (ha!). Our kids had their own “mini-break” to Grandma’s house (happy face).

It is without a doubt the most fun I’ve had since turning adult and simply the BEST way to get the most out of a place. Admittedly, I need to work on my lefts and rights and remember that if you’re heading towards oncoming traffic, a bus is beeping at you and your husband is shouting at you, you’re probably on the wrong side of the road, but it was a great experience and I implore anyone to try it.

You may have seen pay as you go scooters popping up in various European cities. They first appeared in the US but Sweden is an early adopter and you can now find them in most Swedish cities. Never have London’s Boris (Santander) bikes seemed so dull. These are dockless so there’s no hunting around to locate / park, you literally jump on and off. A handy app finds them for you and signs you in and out with a simple scan.

Of course, it works well in Stockholm, with their spacious roads, pavements and seriously impressive route of cycle paths. Whizzing around at 20 kph, you see way more than you would on foot without missing a thing. There’s so much to love here. Where the old meets the new (and some interesting 70’s structures in between). There’s a lot of building work going on. The place is buzzing.

They make good design look easy in Sweden

Effortless. Like it comes easy to them. But a city’s worth of cycle lanes takes a hell of a lot of planning and foresight. If we had the same in the UK I’d cycle (or scoot) everywhere and encourage my children to do the same — it’s just too dangerous, so we don’t!

We love Swedish design at Kiss House because so many of it’s values and principles align with ours. Known for its minimalism, simplicity and use of natural materials. The Swedish build quality, placing value on functionality as much as aesthetics with consideration to the environment, surely the cornerstones of all great modern design? They’ve long embraced ultra low energy builds. In fact, the two Professors responsible for developing the Passivhaus performance standard were a German physicist and a Swedish scientist.

Everything feels progressive here, considered. The air feels clean. It doesn’t surprise me that Stockholm is ranked one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world and Sweden one of the most sustainable countries.

Back in 2014, The Guardian reported on an innovative city funded high-rise project in the southern Swedish town of Växjö where two high-rises were built to the Passivhaus standard to help the country realise it’s goal of eliminating CO2 emissions by 2050. “Taking this route works very well for us as a municipality, since we want to become CO2 neutral, and homes account for 30% of energy use” explained Henrik Johansson, the city’s environmental coordinator. He added, “even though the city has endured three extremely cold winters since the buildings went up, the apartments have not been cold”.

It’s the city’s most ambitious project but it’s no stranger to Passivhaus builds and even boasts a Passivhaus house style tennis complex built by former world no.1 player Stefan Edberg. Växjö’s city planners now face the dilemma of how to deal with the vast amounts of energy used by poorly insulated 1960’s and 70’s buildings, and how to make them more energy efficient or Passivhaus retrofit them. “Just another challenge to overcome” says Johansson (source: Elisabeth Braw: The Guardian).

The Swedes clearly know how to create great cities. Stockholm is a joy and is testament to their foresight and people centred design.

Top 10 Things to see and do in Stockholm

Whilst there zipping around, we had the benefit of recommendations from locals (because my husband is fortunate enough to spend time there for work). Below is our Top 10 things to see and do.

  1. Do hire an electric scooter to get about: Voi and Lime were in operation during our visit — download their Apps for more info or visit the Voi website
  2. Check out “The Future Starts Here” exhibition at Ark Des (in association with the V&A London) until 4th August 2019, a fascinating and thought-provoking exhibition about the world of tomorrow shaped by the designs and technologies emerging today
  3. Visit Fotografiska: A centre for contemporary photography housed in an old brick-built customs building
  4. Check out Snösätra Graffiti Wall of Fame one of Europe’s largest graffiti exhibitions
  5. Take a day cruise and experience the best parts of the beautiful Stockholm archipelago
  6. Eat amazingly good Bengali Street Food at Gossip Shanti (be warned when the waiter says it’s hot, it’s HOT!)
  7. Sample local cuisine in a Foodhall such as Östermalms Saluhall
  8. Visit one of the city’s Roof Top bars such as Tak Stockholm
  9. Mooch around cool independent boutiques and homeware stores, plus enjoy a stop-off in one of the eclectic cafes and bars in laidback Södermalm or SoFo
  10. Stay in Downtown Camper by Scandic: A new first-class hotel with award winning design, rooftop bar, spa and rooftop pool as well as an excellent restaurant, Campfire
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