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4. Let nature do the work

Water and vegetation in Stockholm Royal Seaport play a key role in the social, economic, and ecological development of the area. Through intelligent design, blue and green structures can fulfil multiple functions, contribute to synergy effects, and provide ecosystem services. This offers opportunities in terms of recreation and attractiveness values that contribute to improved health and wellbeing.

The local climate is improved, and the effects of coming climate change reduced; meanwhile biodiversity increases, and dispersal zones strengthened, making the city more resilient to future challenges. Furthermore, food cultivation at scale in the area can contribute to local food production.

This strategy contributes to the fulfilment of the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:

The strategy contributes to meeting the global goals:

4.1 Create and strengthen ecosystem services

Intelligent design ensures that vegetation and water fulfils multiple functions, contributes to synergy effects, and provides ecosystem services.

To date, a total of 137,432m² green spaces, such as green oases, green roofs and courtyards have been created in Stockholm Royal Seaport. Green space as a proportion of total area and green oases varies from phase to phase, see table 4.1. Read more

Development sites

The Green Space Index (GSI) requirement, in combination with the stormwater strategy, contributes to well-designed solutions that benefit biodiversity, stormwater retention, and recreational functions on development site. The size and shape of courtyards, as well as how many walls and roofs can be used for vegetation, play a role in how large an eco-efficient area can be created. To date, approximately 26,400m² of green roofs and 47,300m² of courtyards have been completed, see table 4.3. Read more

Green Space Index

Developers are required to meet set GSI requirements that calculate ecologically-active areas.


  • A GSI of 0.6 is to be achieved for dwellings and 0.4 for commercial premises.
  • Existing buildings in Gasverket are not included in the scheme due to cultural and historical significance.
  • Norra 1, Västra and Värtaterminalen have voluntary commitments.

With a small number of exceptions, developers have fulfilled requirements, see diagram 4.1. The two first phases – Norra 1, Västra and Värtaterminalen – were not required to use the GSI in their design process, nor have results been reviewed by the City of Stockholm. Further social spaces and biotope roofs are planned for later phases. Biotope roofs have deeper plant beds that store large amounts of rain water and enable increased plant variation. It is important to co-ordinate at an early stage, primarily with developers’ structural design teams because loads tend to be large.

Diagram 4.1 Green Space Index average per phase

*For Jackproppen’s dwellings, figures are reported based on preliminary design documentation submitted in 2016. The project has been completed but developers have not yet delivered updated statistics. 

Green roofs and Green Space Index per courtyard and developers

Green roofs

Norra 2

Norra 2 was the first phase with strict requirements. All developers met the requirements, but the elevated ambition levels of the early stages of the process have been revised downwards. For example, the weight of green roofs was not always considered in the design of the roof structure, which ultimately resulted in lighter sedum roofs being selected. All roofs, building courtyards, and several walls have been used to achieve the requirement. Courtyards are better designed for visits and are perceived as being greener than previous phases.

Multifunctional green structures deliver ecosystem services >

Diagram 4.2 Achieved GSI per courtyard, Norra 2

  • Stora Sjöfallet (Bonava, SSM, Viktor Hanson, Wallenstam): more varied green roofs than typical sedum roofs, three large oaks, climbing plants on facades and integrated balcony boxes, bird, and bat boxes. Worked with design ideas such as meadows and marshy woodland.
  • Hornslandet (Stockholmshem): many trees such as oak and fruit trees, flowering perennials, edible plants, dissipated flowering throughout the season, climbing plants on pergolas and on wires on gables, cultivation opportunities on the terrace, water dischargers on latticed walls.
  • Sonfjället (Erik Wallin, HEBA, Skanska): wigwam, integrated balcony boxes, natural species selection, rain gardens, deep plant beds, edible plants, climbing plants on buildings in conjunction with the building’s architecture.

In Brofästet, requirements were met by a greater margin than in the earlier Norra 2 phase, although as with previous phases, levels tended to decrease during the process. It is clear that understanding of the GSI has increased and that systemic thinking about stormwater management and integrated planting surfaces were incorporated at early stages of the process.

Diagram 4.3 Achieved GSI per courtyard, Brofästet

  • Backåkra, courtyard 1 (Besqab, Oscar Properties, Åke Sundvall, Stockholmshem): courtyard with good plant depth, stormwater integrated into design, bushes with edible berries, rain gardens, green facades, well-planned social spaces. Planning of the courtyard is a good example of co-ordination between developers, landscape architects and water and drainage expert ensuring stormwater is managed sustainably.
  • Backåkra, courtyard 2 (Stockholmshem, Tobin Properties, Einar Mattsson): large areas of unreinforced ground, large co-ordinated green roofs, substantial soil depth of more than 800mm over the soffit. Almost half of all green roofs are thick meadow roofs that attract bees and butterflies. Continuous work on retaining stormwater with the help of combined systems of roofs and rain beds (local green-blue stormwater management).
  • Koppången, courtyard 1 (HSB, Riksbyggen): roof terraces on all buildings which are accessible for all residents. One of the roofs has a biotope roof with dead wood and varied vegetation. Many social areas with pergolas and grassy areas for play. A large oak at the centre of the courtyard. Stormwater management integrated into design.
  • Koppången, courtyard 2 (Einar Mattsson): combined green roofs with solar panels. Visible sedum roof, large green facades on gavels and shared roof terraces. A large oak, flowering plants, and fauna beds in the courtyard. High-quality furniture and system thinking throughout. Co-ordinated, multi-stage connection which is good for purification and retention. Uses every conceivable surface in the area for stormwater management. Levelling adjustments optimised to avoid damage to buildings and to enable heavier flows of water to be channelled away from the inner courtyard.
Gasverket Västra

Given the cultural and historical significance of the area, existing buildings are exempt from the requirements. Surfaces around the sports hall, school, and pre-school are subject to substantial stress and are used differently to neighbourhood courtyards, which makes it harder to include all desired functions. These uses require hardened surfaces, which means that vegetation is focused on edge spaces, roofs, and vertical surfaces.

Diagram 4.4 Achieved GSI per courtyard, Gasverket Västra

  • Hjorthagshallen (Real Estate Administration): the requirement was not met. A sports hall is planned which will include climbing plants on wires along the building’s facade and skeletal soil with stormwater managed trees and sedum roofs.
  • Bobergsskolan (SISAB): small playground, which results in considerable wear and thereby more of a requirement for hardened surfaces.
  • Pre-school (Vectura): the pre-school has sedum roofs, fruit trees and flowering trees and bushes, and climbing plants on fences.

Diagram 4.5 Achieved GSI per courtyard, Jackproppen, Starkströmmen and Södra Värtan Norra

Jackproppen, Erik Wallin: figures are reported based on preliminary design documentation submitted in 2016. The project has been completed but developers have not yet delivered updated statistics.

Jackproppen (playground building): does not meet the requirements due to shallow soil depths of its sedum roof and because the property occupies an entire development site.

Starkströmmen (Elementica): has high ambitions with green roofs on different levels. Variation in structure allows for a high diversity of vegetation. Work has been carried out with oak trees in the interface with existing natural land and flowering meadows.

Starkströmmen (Ellevio): is a special property with specific conditions. There are almost no ground-level surfaces that can be used and limited opportunities to plant vegetation. Instead, work has been done on establishing climbing plants on facades.

Södra Värtan Norra: is currently at an early stage of development and its values significantly exceed the requirements. There are plans to use roofs more than in previous phases, for example by installing a large number of biotope roofs and roof-top terraces with social areas. There is a tendency for results to decrease from previous phases up until buildings are ready. It is important to establish co-operation between different disciplines such as architects, landscape architects, structural design, and water and drainage experts.

Neapel (Niam): well-used roof spaces in terms of social values and vegetation. Meadow vegetation, bushes, and smaller multiple species of trees are planned with good soil depth. A natural variety of species of vegetation. Pergolas, fauna depots, and green walls are design elements. Rain gardens and oak trees are found at street level.

Hangö (Bonnier and Niam): interesting and achievable proposals to build on roof terraces on different levels with locally raised vegetation spaces with bushes and smaller trees. Work has been done on developing a large, natural variety of species and diversity of soil layers. Roof terraces also incorporate water surfaces and a fountain.

Public open spaces
Green structures

High-quality green structures in public open spaces are crucial in enabling ecosystem services. Access to green spaces promotes health and wellbeing. Green spaces also provide recreation, calm, and proximity to nature-based experiences on a daily basis.

Green and park spaces have been re-mapped with previous criteria, which means that parks and public open spaces with social values are now classified according to the Free Space Guide (GRI). This has resulted in some changes to figures and demarcations compared to the previous year. In 2020, 15,600m2 of park area was created. In all, 33,400m2 – or five football pitches – of new park area has been created. That is the equivalent to 11m² per dwelling. The majority of street vegetation in the area are rain garden that are designed to receive and retain stormwater. Plant substrate is made up of biochar-infused macadam. Street vegetation and rain gardens cover a total area of 10,247m2. Read more about how biochar sequesters CO2.

Energy and Climate - 3.5 Fossil-free - Local production of renewable energy >

Throughout the area, the maximum walking distance from every property to a park is 200 metres. When the most recent Stockholm survey was conducted in 2014, 83 per cent had access to parks within 200 metres. A park or nature area must be located within 200 metres from a property for it to be considered as being close and used frequently by children and the elderly.

In 2020, 39 trees were planted. Trees provide shade, reduce temperatures, and reduce heatwave effects. On streets, water is channelled to tree pits and green spaces with biochar-infused soil, which enables large amounts of water to be retained of, while at the same time guaranteeing favourable plant-growing conditions. A total of 546 trees of around 20 different species have been planted. See table 4.2.

Table 4.2 Green structures and open public spaces

EtappNorra 2BrofästetGasverket VästraJackproppenVästraNorra 1
Norra 2BrofästetGasverket VästraJackproppenVästraNorra 1
Share of apartments that have access to parks and nature areas within 200 m, per cent100 100 Not applicable100 100 100
Rain gardens, m²7001.300002.3500
Plant beds, m²1376855004.511640
Trees, piece12087012209118

Parks and green areas within 200 metres

Parks and plantings along Husarviken have recreational and ecological values. They connect walkways and provide opportunities to move around the area and out of the area towards, for example the Royal National City Park. The line of alder trees along the waterfront at Husarviken was preserved and serves as a valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife. Parks serve as an important complement to pre-school playgrounds for play, exercise, and teaching.

Båthusparken, the playground, and outdoor gym in Brofästet that were completed in 2020, provide opportunities for exercise and other activities. They are also important meeting places for people of all ages. Parks have large grass areas with seating edged with beds of bushes and trees. These plant beds also receive stormwater from surrounding streets. All new plant beds improve living environments for insects and birds and will contribute to improving green infrastructure.

Street planting in Brofästet continued in 2020 and has now been completed along Båthusparken. Other street planting will be completed at a later date.

The park area south of Jackproppen has been refurbished and converted into a playground, including a activity house, (Hjortgläntan). The park is strategically located between the new buildings in Stockholm Royal Seaport and Abessinien. The purpose of this has been to create a new meeting place and a cohesive green space with recreational values. The park connects Motalaparken with Gläntan and Hästhagsparken. Valuable oak trees have also been preserved. The design of the park is intended to create large, flat surfaces suitable for play. The activity house is located as an underground building to create ready access to all parts of the park via a lift.

In 2018, the Hjorthagsparken park area was completed as an important part of the dispersal zone. The park’s placement, design, and contents strengthens the local ecosystem, especially with oak and amphibian linkages. This includes local plants such as oak, meadows, and moisture-loving perennials. A tunnel was built for amphibians under Lövängsgatan and Bobergsgatan making it easier for amphibians to move around the area.

Nature values and dispersal linkages

Stockholm Royal Seaport is located next to the Royal National City Park. Green structures play a key role in the area’s dispersal network for oak-loving species and amphibians. High nature values have been recorded in Stockholm Royal Seaport, especially endangered tree species. The area is home to plants, animals, and insects some of which are protected, including the rock warbler, the herring gull, the grey warbler, the green woodpecker, the giant water salamander, and the bark beetle.

Oak and amphibian environments are protected. These environments have been preserved and strengthened with planting and the construction of marshy areas and wintering sites. A tunnel for frogs has also been built. Nature value compensation and reinforcement measures need to be continuously monitored to see whether they have the intended outcomes.

Due to soil remediation and preparatory work, some species have had to be moved permanently or temporarily. The rare finger root herb species has, for example, been given a new growing space on the roofs of the Värtahamnen terminal building and at the Bergian Gardens. It will also be replanted in Värtahamnen as soon as land remediation is complete.

A 2017 ecology survey discovered protected larger and smaller water salamanders in a pond at the oil tanks in Loudden. Prior to land remediation in 2020, these ponds were removed, and the salamanders were captured and moved to a new pond, Brunslättsdammen, at Kaknäs. The new pond will also be an attractive habitat for other amphibians, birds and insects. By 2020, 398 water salamanders, of which 231 larger water salamanders, had been moved to the new pond. To date, a total of 1,611 water salamanders have been moved, of which 1,202 are larger water salamanders. A surveillance camera has filmed the salamanders migrating from their wintering area to the pond to mate. They appear well acclimatized, alert, and healthy.

Important ecological dispersal linkages between Stockholm Royal Seaport and Royal National City Park

Detailed marine biological surveys have been made of Lilla Värtan in conjunction with the detailed development plans for Kolkajen and Ropsten. The surveys show the presence of benthic animals, plants and fish is extremely limited due to pollution. After the lake bottom has been cleaned and the new island built, conditions for aquatic organisms and plants will improve.


Stockholm Royal Seaport is adapted to coming climate change such as floods and droughts. Early in the project, an overarching stormwater strategy was developed that outlined principles for stormwater management. The strategy assumes that five- or ten-year rains could be managed locally with plant beds, wells, and piping. Heavy and torrential rain would require the elevation of areas in such a way that stormwater could be channelled on the surface to the nearest bodies of water, Husarviken and Värtan. These measures were further strengthened after the heavy rains recorded in Copenhagen in 2011 when buildings, elevation and more, were adapted to withstand heavy and intense rain. For neighbourhood land, a delay and emission requirements were established early in the stormwater strategy.

Stormwater is managed in an integrated system of green roofs and roof gardens with water flow on squares, streets, grass areas, rain gardens, ponds, and stormwater channels. Vegetation in courtyards, walls, and roofs strengthens park ecosystem and support a robust ecosystem in general.

All stormwater from public open spaces and overflow water from development sites is channelled via drains to plant beds with biochar-infused soil that store water and ensure good plant growth. Plant beds soak up water and release it gradually towards Husarviken. In the event of heavy rain, when waterflows are at their greatest, ponds and retention basins capture water that would otherwise cause flooding. Parks and other green areas are able to store large amounts of water.

In Stockholm Royal Seaport, Gasverket and Värtahamnen have been identified as two areas where stormwater management is especially challenging. They are flat, low-lying areas with existing construction. In both these areas, extensive detailed reviews have been carried out to identify measures to avoid water build-up such as varied elevation, plant beds, marsh areas, and channels.

IoT and green structures

Since 2018, the City of Stockholm has conducted the “Connected SRS” R&D project in which two pilot projects test sensors and data collection connected to vegetation in the area. One of the schemes is conducted in collaboration with the “Smarter Greener Cities” project. Eighteen local weather stations that measure solar radiation, temperature, humidity, rainfall, and wind speed have been positioned in squares, playgrounds, parks, courtyards, and green roofs throughout the area. The aim of the project has been to evaluate green space functions and better understand how urban vegetation can strengthen people’s wellbeing as well as biodiversity. In the second pilot study, sensors will measure soil moisture in plant beds, combined with data from the weather stations to see how management of green spaces can be made more efficient. This scheme is being conducted in collaboration with students from Stockholm Technical Institute, STI.

Head of development Staffan Lorentz Stockholm Royal Seaport
The film shows how floods can be prevented in Stockholm Royal Seaport. With the help of green roofs, ditches and plant beds, the rainwater collects and slows down the flow and reduces the risk of flooding.
– The buildings need to be able to receive a lot of rain. It is easier to plan parks and water spaces from the beginning when buildings are newly built, says Staffan Lorentz, Head of Development Stockholm Royal Seaport, Stockholm City Development Administration. News article and movie clip: SVT News (only in Swedish)

One of the rain gardens on Madängsgatan in Stockholm Royal Seaport during the heavy rain in June 2021, which met SMHI’s (the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) definition of torrential rain with over 50 millimeters of rain in one hour. Film: Fredrik Ohls, Sweco
What the residents think

In 2020, a residents survey was conducted to gain better understanding and knowledge of how outdoor environments such as residential courtyards and roof terraces are experienced. A total of more than 300 people participated. Eighty per cent felt that the courtyards worked well and more than 60 per cent believe that they met households’ needs based on how they wanted to use them. However, courtyards were perceived to work less well for young people, while they work best for small children. The survey also shows that courtyards’ main uses are play and socialising.

More than half of respondents said they feel that vegetation in courtyards is part of the climate transition to reduce floods in the area and that vegetation, flower plant beds and grass areas are among the most liked characteristics of courtyards. Results of the survey are being used to update the Green Space Index.

The 2019 residents survey shows that 68 per cent of residents are satisfied with the outdoor environment in their courtyard areas. Eight-seven per cent are satisfied with the area’s outdoor environment and 84 per cent visit parks and nature areas on a daily basis or several times a week.

How targets have been met
4.1 Utilise ecosystem services to build a resilient and healthy urban environmentUpdated Green Space Index.
93% property developers fulfil GSI.
14 hectares of green spaces such as green oases, green roofs, and courtyards have been created to date.
100% of dwellings have access to park and nature areas within 200 metres.

Watch the film (only in Swedish) about protected larger and smaller water salamanders that lived in a pond by the oil tanks in Loudden. Click on Public open spaces – Natural values and dispersal linkages for more information.
Updated 2022-03-14

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Winner of the Swedish Landscape Architecture Prize

Key figures: 

  • 14 hectares of green spaces including green oases, green roofs and courtyards have been laid.
  • 26,400m² green roofs and 47,300m² courtyards have been built.
  • All residents have a park within 200 metres.