These Swedish “Bike Apartments” Are Designed For Life Without Cars

Adele Peters 08.29.16

A new apartment building in Sweden doesn’t have any parking spaces. Instead, the developers invested the money that would have gone to a parking garage into creating an ideal place to live for people who don’t want to own a car.

“The strategy is to look at why people have to use cars, and substitute bikes for the cars,” says architect Cord Siegel, one of the principals at Hauschild + Siegel, which designed the seven-story building, called Cykelhuset (“bicycle house”).

Recognizing that people often drive when they’re shopping, the architects included huge delivery mailboxes that residents will be able to use to shop online instead; the mailboxes can also be used for returns. If someone needs to pick up a heavy load in town, the building will have a stock of cargo bikes that can be borrowed. The bikes are also big enough to substitute for a station wagon, and can haul several kids to school or day care.

Because the building is close to the city center—just a few minutes by bike to the central train station—it also will be easy for residents to get to work. The building will offer commuter bikes for people who want to use a folding bike on the train. The building also offers a “mobility subscription” that includes car pools, a bike repair service, and credits on the bus or train to use when the weather is bad.

Inside, the elevators are wider than usual, so a cargo bike can fit inside. The elevator doors open on both sides, so someone doesn’t have to struggle to turn the bike around when they reach their floor. There’s parking both downstairs, in a bike garage, and in front of each door. Bikes also easily fit inside the apartments.

“You can come with the bicycle directly to your apartment,” says Siegel. “If you buy something you can transport it in front of the fridge.”

Even the visual design of the building is bike-inspired; the round windows are a reference to bike wheels.

Each apartment has a balcony with self-irrigated planters, and there’s a shared greenhouse on the roof that can be enjoyed in the middle of bleak Swedish winters. “We have this so people can make a holiday at home,” he says. “It’s easier to stay home and have the feeling of nature, so you maybe don’t take these holidays that are not necessary.”

On the first floor, the building will have 31 lofts that can be rented by the night. Like a motel, you can pull up directly to the door—but on a bike. When guests arrive at the nearby train station, they can rent bikes from the company that runs the building, and then use the bikes throughout their visit.

Cykelhuset is under construction now and plans to open in December. Streetfilms documented the building in a recent visit to Malmö.


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