Linus Sundahl-Djerf for The New York Times

Hammarby Sjostad, a waterfront district in Stockholm, began its transformation from an industrious area to a sustainable development during the 1990s. At the time, the Scandinavian country was hoping to earn a future Olympic bid, so it started planning housing for the potential visiting athletes. The bid was ultimately unsuccessful, but the once rugged site was already well on its way to being a manicured urban development with eco–friendly amenities.

Over 10,000 apartments are now built in the space, and an estimated 30,000 people will call the development home by the time the ongoing project is finished in five years. Thanks to numerous bike lanes, and ferry, bus, and tram stops, 80 percent of current residents commute without the use of cars.

Despite such sustainable amenities, one group is looking to transform the district even further. Created by retired journalist Allan Larsson, who moved to the area seven years ago, HS2020, a citizens group that has initiated several sustainable undertakings, such as better recycling facilities and upgraded water recycling technologies, wants to continue improving the city​. The citizens group is currently campaigning for the widespread use of electric cars, and have drafted a plan to make year-round use of a local ski slope that sits less than a mile from the waterfront. 

Courtesy Flickr user Hans Kylberg via Creative Commons
We’ve used the phrase ‘renewing a new city’ to highlight the fact that you can’t just build a new residential area or a town and then leave it. It has to be updated. You have to have innovation. You have to test new things.

HS2020 has also supported past cultural initiatives, such as streaming opera performances from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York inside a former warehouse for Hammarby Sjostad residents to enjoy. Some locals are now working to better emphasize the culture of the waterfront​. Delight Studios, one of Stockholm’s top photography and film production studios, served as the district's temporary home for such events, until one of the studio's photographers, Guido Hildebrand, became concerned that the area was losing its character as residential construction slowly took over. Now, he is working with Helios13, an association of cultural groups that operates art businesses, such as music, dance, and fashion studios,​ to transform a former studio building into a permanent cultural center to better highlight the district's character. 

Until then, residents can explore boutiques, sip coffee at cafés, and visit Nya Carnegiebryggeriet, a brewery housed in a former light bulb factory​. 

To see more about the project, visit the New York Times