Maretopia, initiated by artist Jens Evaldsson, is a project which sets out to explore the existing and potential future relationship between the city and the vast water network which flows through it.
The Maretopia project, launched on the 5 June 2015, was conceived as part of the exhibition ‘Experimenting Stockholm’, exhibited at the Färgfabriken arts centre during the Autumn of 2015. The exhibition aimed to evocatively act as a ‘catalyst for the free, open discussion of Stockholm(’s)’ (1) future urban framework, considering, in particular, the arising challenges associated with the rapidly growing region.
Stockholm is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’, with its intricate pattern of streams which cut through the city. Yet, despite its beauty, cleanliness and dramatic presence, the waters appear an inaccessible and unusable part of the city. It has been recognised by Stockholm’s creative thinkers that the water bodies are rarely directly addressed in planning for the urban environment and as a result are not utilised in fear of disturbing their untouched beauty.
Maretopia comprises of several different elements, all of which sync in collaboration to test the potential of the river; as an asset, a public space and an area of the city which is available for everyone. The aim of the project was to discuss the possibility of a ‘floating culture’, the ideas and designs for which were nurtured by a course named ‘Floating Utopias’ which was run by the Interior Architecture and Furniture design Programme at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design.
The students of ‘Floating Utopia’s’ envisioned floating cultural platforms, an ‘eco-village’ on rafts which fabricated to include a theatre screen and an audience platform. Further to this, they designed and built a paddle boat which could be used to reach Maretopia from Färgfabriken. Different cultural events were then held on the rafts which were enthusiastically attended by the public.
Whether Maretopia has been a whole success in challenging the potentials of Stockholm’s water bodies will arguably remain inconclusive until a later point in time; it will be interesting to see if Stockholm’s future urban design will in fact address the themes of Maretopia, encouraging the utilisation of the river as a public asset and facilitating its interaction with the city.
Image: Färgfabriken Arts Venue (pending permission)