Time for a green Globe

The former meatpacking district is one of the largest upcoming urban developments in Stockholm. The city has plans for some 4 000 new homes and more than 10 000 workplaces, and many entrepreneur’s are already on the site with new music venues, restaurants, and other cultural surprises. The area’s most visible attraction is the Globe, Globen in Swedish, a giant hemispherical indoor arena that hosts both sport and music events. As big as it is, it’s also represent the sun in a giant scale model of the Solar System (Pluto is to be found in Delsbo, some 300 km north). So why keep the exterior so blandly white, like a giant golf ball about to roll away over the suburbs? Why not make the Globe into a real Globe as green and blue as our own planet? And a stark reminder of how fragile our ecosystem is. Wouldn’t that reinforce Greta Thunberg’s call for action on climate change even more? Per Berglund, Greenworks’s founder, is convinced that the idea is feasible. The company’s expertise regarding vertical walls is ready for bigger projects, and inclined walls have already been set up in Uppsala. ”We have discussed the possibilities for such a large scale project,’ explains Per, ‘and we do believe this would be a great change for the image of Stockholm.’

When Stefie Goudaki happened to pass by Greenwork’s new showroom she had the same thought. Vertical gardens could be an important part of the cultural regeneration of the new meatpacking district. Once the director for Edsvik Art Gallery north of Stockholm, the art historian and creative culture consultant was last year working with Globen Culture Lab that brought along a small vertical garden inspired by Stefano Boeri’s plant and tree studded high-rises Bosco Verticale in Milan, as well as Yoko Ono’s famous Wish Tree, and Candy Chang memento mori Before I Die. ’We had some 60 projects going on and were about to continue this year,’ says Stefie Goudaki, ‘but the pandemic has brought it all to a stop. The idea is nevertheless to boost the attractiveness of the entire district, all from the underground station Gullmarsplan to the Globe.” Stefie Goudaki is primarily interested in working with the outdoor spaces around the Globe, but the Globe itself would of course raise the bar even further.

Martin Lagerberg, CEO of Kulturarenor, is one of the entrepreneurs working on Fållan, a new concert and event space in the area. Formerly responsible for a similar space called Nobelberget, he now continues working with Atrium Ljungberg, the real estate giant in charge of a good part of the meatpacking district. The power ballad club The Night has managed the move without any problem, their first event at their new location sold out some 2 300 tickets in 2 minutes. ’We are planning for an outdoor summer stage here, and The Globe is our major backdrop. It would be wonderful to have it all green!’ The Covid-19 imposed restrictions are according to Martin bringing along new service models for the event industry where you order and pay by apps, new systems that will facilitate in making outdoor events even more attractive.

And how does the architect Lasse Vretblad fell about our idea? Lasse, who with Svante Berg and Esbjörn Adamson were responsible not only for the original proposal, but also the main force in making it become real, saw the building being inaugurated in February 1989. So, isn’t it time to let go of that white exterior? ’I don’t believe so, although the exterior was never our main interest, we were all focused on the interior,’ says Lasse Vretblad with a smile. ‘Wouldn’t it be hard to handle the up-keep? It really has to be maintenance free!’

To build the vertical gardens along the areas around Globen that Stefie Goudaki dreams of, is of course easy, and would certainly change to district for the better. To cover frayed and shabby walls, and to add lush green to leftover spaces would contribute to mitigate all the testosterone triggered unrest around sport events. But how to clad the entire Globe in green? Would it even be possible? ’

– Of course it would, says Jens Öqvist, landscape engineer at Greenworks. It is possible to plan the plant design to minimize the maintenance and use a big skylift every 5 year or so, or make it possible for climbing maintenance personal, but that requires a complex infrastructure. I have also pondered if it’s possible to make a world map with blue toned conifers as oceans, yellow toned leaves for deserts, bronze toned for mountains and green for forests.

Jens Öqvist view moss as a obvious element to make a real biotope and together with tough evergreen woody plants we can minimize the maintenance. It is important that the landscape looks aesthetically appealing all year around, and also take into consideration the distance by using for example larger woody plant species higher up on the globe.

– With our intelligent irrigation system we can automatically irrigate and give nutrition when its needed. We also have a monitoring system that notify us when something is deviates. With help of clever technical solutions and plant choices we can lower the maintenance a lot.

Jens is convinced that a green exterior would have more than just a visual effect. I do believe that having a green enclosure would make people calmer and a project of this scale could be the beginning of an interesting international study on how the beautifying of urban space can change people’s mood.