Stockholm’s Incredible Futuristic Metro


In some places it feels like a giant cave – or perhaps a Bond villain’s base. In others, it resembles a science-fiction space station. And then there’s the part that looks like a blood vessel running through some kind of giant cyborg. Yet no matter which of Stockholm’s 90 decorated subway stations you visit, you’re sure to see something amazing.

Stockholm’s metro system has been called “the world’s longest art exhibition,” and given that it’s 68 miles (110 km) in length and contains spectacular contributions from over 150 artists, this is definitely a title that fits. Anders Åberg and Karl-Olov Björk are the artists behind the Solna Centrum station, pictured above.


The subterranean artwork is full of variety. Here we see artist Takashi Naraha’s surreal Vreten station “sky cubes.” And even from the little we’ve seen so far, we think you’ll agree that taking the metro is a lot more exciting and less mundane in Stockholm than it is in most other cities.


Ängkvist’s almost primitive-looking wall paintings at Alby station create a dramatic contrast with the more high-tech metal ceiling grid and gray tiled floors. Metal grids were placed on the ceilings (and sometimes walls) of the early stations to make the natural rock faces less threateningly suggestive of some kind of underworld.


The name of this station is Näckrosen, which translates as “the water lily.” Artist Lizzie Olsson-Arle turned to this aquatic plant for inspiration when she decorated the station in 1975. This particular mural is displayed on an arched ceiling between two platforms. Näckrosen station also leads to Sweden’s famous Filmstaden movie studios, which influenced Olsson-Arle in her inclusion of paraphernalia from the film industry elsewhere in the Näckrosen design.


Here’s another look at Näckrosen station, this time showing pebbles embedded in the wall beneath the lilies plus a quote etched into the platform. The overall effect is quite soothing, which is just the sensation to calm stressed commuters at the end of a busy day.
metro6Here’s some station art that’s likely to be a favorite with kids. Created by artists Enno Hallek and Åke Pallarp in 1973, a cheerful-looking giant rainbow sprawls across an arch at Stadion station. So, even if the skies are gloomy outside, this subterranean world can really brighten your day.
metro7The name Kungsträdgården, which translates as “king’s garden,” prompted photographer Alexander Dragunov to dub this photograph of Kungsträdgården station “In the Hall of the Mountain King II.” And with all that rock on either side, it certainly does look like it was carved out of a mountain. In actual fact, of course, it’s situated below the surface of the Swedish capital, 111 feet (34 meters) underground.
metro8One of Skarpnäck station’s most interesting features is this line of 17 granite benches set up on the platform. Richard Nonas designed the stone features in 1994, which makes the station’s design one of the most recently completed in these photographs. In addition to the rock benches, which remind Dragunov of Stonehenge, there are 17 carved blocks on the footbridge.
metro9There’s no lack of color here at Mörby Centrum station, although the exact hues of the rock vary depending on the angle from which they’re viewed. Mörby Centrum’s design is the 1978 creation of artists Karin Ek and Gösta Wessel; and we have to admit, this is one station that does remind us of the decade in which it was unveiled.
metro10The colors and textures of the Stockholm subway stations – like those seen in these enlarged children’s drawings at Hallonbergen – represent an innovative use of public space. Instead of settling for the blank walls and advertising-cluttered spaces of most underground train networks, Stockholm has chosen to beautify its metro and hopefully encourage the city’s many commuters to appreciate art and think more creatively. We can’t help but think how great it would be if all public transport hubs took the same approach.

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