Evolution of a New Town

Regional planning
Vällingby was the result of the regional planning of greater Stockholm in the post-war period, which focused on decentralization and making room for the long-term growth of the city. The most important plan was the General Plan of 1952, developed by the City Planning Office and its director, Sven Markelius. Since the 19th century, the city had acquired larger land areas – sometimes from other municipalities – in order to expand geographically, and it used these resources to expand its borders. A number of municipal reforms and mergers were also significant for the expansion of Stockholm, as it happens with the transfer of the municipality of Spånga, which Vällingby was part of, to Stockholm in 1949.

The satellite towns along the western subway line were planned and constructed in relation to the expansion of the train tracks and the subway stations, with Blackeberg and Råcksta closer to the city and built a few years earlier than Vällingby, and Hässelby Gård and Hässelby Strand two stops beyond Vällingby, further away from the city. Each of these stops was planned as a centre in its own right, but the designers placed a slightly different weight on the balance of A-B-C functions in each case. Blackeberg and Hässelby Strand, for instance, were planned primarily as residential areas (B), whereas Råcksta, with its large office towers built for the state energy company Royal Waterfall Board, was primarily a workplace (A). Hässelby Gård was thought to contain all of the A-B-C functions but was planned as a smaller centre than Vällingby from the outset. There was also an additional subway stop, called Johannelund, placed in between Vällingby and Hässelby Gård, providing access to the industrial area of Vinsta.

International recognition
After its inauguration, Vällingby was immediately recognized as an innovative form of planning abroad and was publicized in articles appearing in numerous international architectural and planning magazines. One of the reasons for this intensive international interest was that it was regarded as one of the first towns built according to the new notion of the post-war “new towns,” a planning concept that had primarily been defined by the British New Towns Act of 1947. Although Vällingby was based on the Swedish concept of the ABC-town, its planning and design reflected the approaches used in the early new towns in the UK. The British connections were also explicit: the planning of Vällingby was conducted in parallel with the first British new town of Stevenege, and the two planning teams exchanged knowledge and ideas in a “sister city” agreement (this arrangement was abandoned and forgotten after a few years).

Town development
Vällingby never grew as large as its planners anticipated, but it has remained the major centre of neighbourhoods located along the western subway line. In the 1960s and 1970s, the town had a fairly stable population, yet it was difficult for young people to find housing and jobs within the city district. Instead, younger people moved to newer areas like Rinkeby and Tensta in the north of Vällingby. Similarly, the larger companies that were located in Vällingby and Johannelund moved to newer facilities nearby. In the 1970s and 1980s, the town centre was also slowly decaying, even though the area remained popular. By the 2000s, Vällingby had gone through several regeneration programs of which the latest was the construction of a new shopping mall by renowned Swedish architect Gert Wingårdh in 2008.