Sight for sore eyes

While Stockholm is being tortured by growing pains and bulging outskirts, politicians are wrestling with housing issues. Art entrepreneur Pontus Silfverstolpe considers one company with an artistic solution

3 min read

The influx of people migrating to Stockholm is commonly compared to a couple of fully occupied buses rolling into the city every day. All these passengers need somewhere to live.

There is a plan for change and upgrading, but what do all the ambitious building projects actually bring forth?

Oscar Properties is one of the development companies that are transforming the Stockholm skyline. By focusing their attention on unique modern housing, the company wants to bring creative and conceptual design to the Stockholm property market. The idea is for world-famous architects to address the contemporary Stockholmer through innovative architecture reinforced by art and design.

Successful developers taking an interest in art does not come as much of a surprise, but it is less usual for them to let that interest spill over into their construction projects, instead of just confining it to private collecting.

The idea is for world-famous architects to address the contemporary Stockholmer through innovative architecture reinforced by art and design

Oscar Engelbert, owner and founder of Oscar Properties, has been a great devotee of art ever since childhood. That interest seems to have grown with the passing years. When I visit one of the company’s properties, contemporary Swedish art is the first thing I encounter, and it permeates the overall experience. In another project the artistic decoration is in the façade and old drawings have been sympathetically followed in order to restore the pristine character of the building.

The city planning administration has been clearly recommending ever since 1937 that 1 per cent of the construction cost be allotted for artistic decoration. According to Ulrika Arph, former head of business development and marketing at Oscar Properties, they haven’t earmarked any percentage for it, but the company budgets whatever is needed to perfect the whole building and that this often exceeds the 1 per cent rule.

Moreover, in one of Oscar Properties’ latest projects, Helix and Innovation, the idea is to accommodate a museum. In one of the Torsplan skyscrapers, 2,200 square metres is to be reserved for the design museum, which the Swedish capital has so long been pining for. In barely ten years, the company has sold properties for £340 million (SEK3,500 million).

This is impressive in itself, but still more impressive is the way in which the company chooses to include art in the public environment. Hopefully other construction companies will follow their example, and help make the world lovelier and everyday living more fun.

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