“It takes all its energy and all its aura from the public space and doesn’t add anything,” says editor of Arkitektur, “It’s like a parasite"
In the pictures, it looks lovely. Young urbanites mingle around cafe tables outside a glass facade running almost the whole width of a park, topped off with a sliver of roof that tapers at the edges like the lid of a MacBook Air computer.
Which modern capital would not scream to have this Foster + Partners-designed Apple store in pride of place in its city centre?
Well, Stockholm, apparently. On the day it took power earlier this month, the Swedish capital’s new government announced that it would block the project in Kungsträdgården park.
“It is welcome that Apple wants to establish itself in the city,” says Erik Slottner, the Christian Democrat politician who has led political opposition to the building. “But Kungsträdgården is the wrong place.”
To many in the city, it seems astonishing that the company could ever have thought Kungsträdgården – the King’s Garden – an appropriate place for a store, however outstanding its design. The park looks over the water to the Royal Palace, connecting the city to the monarchy in the same way that the Mall in London links to Buckingham Palace. It is one of the city’s oldest parks, the venue for public events from Pride parades to election debates, political protests to winter ice-skating.
“Kungsträdgården is the most important park in Sweden,” says Johanna Jarméus of Nyréns Arkitektkontor, a leading architecture firm. “It is the thread that pulls together the historical power of the monarchy with the commercial blocks of Hamngatan and the working-class districts of Södermalm. This is very important for democracy because it has to do with power, symbolically and spatially.”
Opposition came not only from protesters and conservationists, but from official bodies such as the city’s official Beauty Council. There were around 1,800 responses to the city’s consultation on the project. Almost all of them were negative.
“Apple must have had very bad advisers,” says Göran Folin, whose green pressure group Alternativ Stad – the Stockholm branch of Friends of the Earth – led the grassroots opposition, ....