The Southern Link, Stockholm Ring Road by White Architects

The Southern Link.Parallel assignment around the Stockholm Ring Road –Europe’s longest system of city motorway tunnels. The Swedish Road Administration went ahead with White’s proposal which is based on items to arouse visual interest, pleasant lighting and a bright floating ceiling that shows the way.

The parallel assignment formed part of the project of building a ring-road around Stockholm. It was the first known example of a major tunnel project in which the client had human and aesthetic ambitions. White satisfied the Swedish Road Administration’s desire to create security, interest and anticipation, alongside the functional aspects, for the people travelling along in the tunnel system with its slip roads entering and exiting.

White established four important criteria that the proposal was to fulfil. A solution that eliminated the perceived weight of rock above; incidents that provided stimulation during the journey; clear reference points for the eye; pleasant lighting.

The solution stands out because of its large individually and artistically designed rock shelters beside entrance and exit ramps. A bright floating ceiling shows the direction ahead and the rock’s structure is retrained in the walls and roof. The lighting in the tunnel is white and comfortable, to enable easy interpretation of signage, instruments and
other motorists.

White’s work continued with a translation of the original vision in the system and construction documentation for Södra Länken (the Southern Link) – and in company with the client keeping the vision alive throughout the project’s many
phases.

It is a moot point whether a ring road creates more or less of an environmental impact. Choosing to put the traffic underground produces clear environmental advantages however. Årsta is one example of a previously heavily trafficked urban district around the Southern Link, which now has a new calmness in which birdsong can be heard.

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