Märsta, Sweden, Europe
Year1964latitude: 59° 37'
longitude: 17° 50'
Planning organization
Nationality initiator(s)
Designer(s) / Architect(s)C.F. Ahlberg
Design organization
Inhabitants23,400 (2008)
Target population40,000
Town website
Town related linkshttp://www.sigtunahem.se/Templates/Page____230.aspx
http://www.airportregions.org/doc/STRAIR/Territorial_and_environmental_impa cts_of_airport_development.pdf

type of New Town: > scale of autonomy
New Town
Company Town
> client
Private Corporation
Public Corporation
> policy
As secretary of the social housing report, C.-F. Ahlberg, the architect behind the general plan of Märtsta, was one of the first to introduce the ideas of Le Corbusier and Functionalism in Sweden. With this functionalist background, Ahlberg thought it possible to first analyse a situation and then tailor a suitable planning solution. In this case the issue at hand was the expansion of Arlanda Airport close to Stockholm. In 1956, Ahlberg had taken part in the airport committee discussing the question of location for the airport. From this time to 1964, Ahlberg played a central part in the planning of the airport town Märtsta. In the proposition for the airport, the Swedish state promised to set up a special organ that would assist the Sigtuna Municipality with the construction of the new airport town. Thus the Märtsta a delegation included representatives of SAS, the Air Traffic Organisation, the City of Stockholm, the Department of Communication, the Office of Regional Planning and the municipality. At the first meeting, Ahlberg was chosen as responsible planner of a general plan for Märtsta instead of the obvious choice of the head planner of Sigtuna Municipality Winblad. The neighbourhood of Tingvalla, close to what was to become the community centre, was the first to be built. After discussions that favoured housing clustered in heavy multi-family buildings rather than villas, the area was finished between 1964-66. One of the four hills surrounding the bigger community centre was Valsta. A competition was held for the future development of the neighbourhood and it was won by Erik Ahnborg and Harald Mjöberg of the Vattenbyggnadsbyrånn, Stockholm. They wanted to surround apartment blocks by a ring road and distribute villas and row houses outside of this. However, because of economy and logistics the plan was modified and AB Märstabostäder initiated the construction of the new neighbourhood with six slice houses at Valstavägen. First, the plan only appooved three-storey buildings, however, soon six-storey apartment blocks were allowed close to Valsta centre.
The preliminary sketch of Märtsta as a town of four hills was already done in 1959 - a vision of an amphitheatre of dwellings and work places surrounding the arena of the functional centre. As a perfect system where the parts mirror the whole, schools, sport facilities, etc. would be located in the main community centre. The intention was to make an attractive new town where the employees at Arlanda Airport would love to live, however, it was important that it was a plan that could be implemented rapidly. Ahlberg wanted to create a serious alternative to Stockholm with a multifaceted character. 400 apartments were to be built every year, so that Märtsta would have an expected population of 40,000 by 1990. Construction went slower than planned because of the lack of labour force for both Arlanda Airport and all the adjacent dwellings and services requested. The labour authorities advocated for provisional housing with Oxel?ɬ?sund, where the municipality had built provisional housing for the iron industry, as a model. There were also plans about transferring public institutions to Märtsta in order to create a more varied work market. Thus, the public lottery moved into a building by Uppling & Fylking. Moreover, Ahlberg fostered an idea of the housing project Sleipnergatan with eight housing units in eight 'legs' like the ancient Nordic god Odins horse. Because of a long distance to the station and high rent the project was cancelled. With the help of busy engineers and coinciding with the efficient Million Program, the pace of construction went up to a higher level in the late 1960s and young 1970s. Total building enterprise made its breakthrough when it became a rule that housing construction should be made in tandem with streets, electricity, childcare, etc. During the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, the number of Märtsta residents doubled five times. At a time, some officials even thought about pushing the number of target inhabitants from 40,000 to 60,000. However, in early 1972 the municipality got the information that 100 apartments were vacated - in October 1975 the number reached 1045. The municipality then tried to upgrade these apartments by improving social and environmental conditions. One of the problem areas was Regnbågen, Tingvallavägen 9 that was transformed into offices for municipal institutions, however, also accommodated some private companies. In 1976, initiatives were taken by the housing social delegation of the government to revamp Tingvalla and Valsta. People should be attracted to these neighbourhoods because of better infrastructure, housing and outdoor environments. At the same time, the demand and ability to buy single-family houses grew and it was difficult to make the rather anonymous rental apartments attractive. However, the crisis only lasted shortly - already in 1978 it became more difficult to find a vacant flat in Märtsta that was branded on its location 'near the city however with the advantages of the village'.

Today Märtsta, a product of the 1950s airport new town as well as the 1965-74 Million Program, has a population of 22,548 (2006) out of a total population of 36,937 in the Sigtuna Municipality. The area is 7,31 km2 and density 3,085/km2.

source: Signe Sophie Boeggild

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