Pedal Power

By on Nov 23, 2016 in News

In bike-friendly Sweden, a new apartment complex includes custom design elements aimed at encouraging residents to ditch cars in favor of pedal power.

For many urban apartment dwellers, parking spots and constant traffic severely undercohboyut the benefits of living within the city limits. Sure, public transportation, walking, and cycling are all reasonable alternatives to private automobiles, but sometimes the hassles outweigh the benefits. In Malmö, Sweden, a new apartment complex is ditching carports for bike racks in the hopes that future tenants will embrace a car-free existence.

“It’s a perfect city for biking,” says Cykelhuset Ohboy spokesperson Ellen Mendel-Hartvig. “It’s super flat, and you can get anywhere within 15 minutes.”

Centrally Cycling

Located just minutes from the city center, Cykelhuset Ohboy, a 7-story bicycle house/hotel, is an easy trek by foot or bike from major shopping districts and even the central train station. Large delivery mailboxes will help resident shop online for items that might be too difficult to transport without a car, though the building’s fleet of cargo-bikes will also help with heavy loads and even help parents transport their children to school or daycare.

“The strategy is to look at why people have to use cars, and substitute bikes, “Cord Siegel, one of the architects at Hauschild + Siegel, which designed Cykelhuset Ohboy, tells Fast Company in a recent interview.

The Un-Motor Lodge

In addition to 55 one to four-bedroom units, Cykelhuset Ohboy will also double as a hotel, with 31 lofts available for nightly rentals. Available for shorter tenancies – a few weeks to a month or two, the 237-sqft lofts include a small kitchen and can sleep up to three people.

In a play on the traditional “motor-lodge,” guests will be able to ride their bike right up to their front door and park out front or hang their ride on wall hooks. The building also provides rental bikes, which can be picked up at the Malmö train station or the building and used throughout a guests stay.

As filmmaker Clarence Eckerson Jr. discovered on a recent tour of the development, “Wherever you have wanted to bring your cargo bike – into your apartment, in the elevator, thru the grand entrance to the complex and – yes – you can even wheel it right into your kitchen and unload groceries!”

No Garage, No Problem

The developers behind the project chose to replace the funding and space usually dedicated to providing onsite parking with a whole host of amenities designed to make bike commuting easy and fun. Ample elevators can accommodate basic rides and even larger cargo-bike, and the dual door design means residents won’t have to struggle getting in and out of the building.

“You have these regulations that you have to have a certain amount of parking, and since we didn’t want to have any parking then the city said, it sounds great, but then you’re going to have to put that money into making it work without the parking,” explains Mendel-Hartvig. “We’re putting the money into dimensions that work for the cargo bikes and the bike pools.”

In addition to bike-friendly elevator and “bike-up” entryways, the complex sports widened doors and hallways able to accommodate electric bikes, cargo-bikes, and even deliver bicycles. There’s also a planned electric bike charging station along with bike-repair facilities outfitted with tools, bike washes, and air pumps. Bike parking is also available in front of each apartment and in the bottom level of the building.

Rain or Shine

While perfect biking weather cannot be guaranteed, Cykelhuset Ohboy provides substitutes when rain or snow making cycling too onerous. In addition to foldable rental bikes (which can be carted to and from the office on the train), Cykelhuset tenants can use their mobility subscription to supplement their commute either through discounted bus and train tickets or even coordinated carpools.

Another way to keep the car-less blues at bay involves creating an environment that encourages renters to stay close to home. For example, a rooftop greenhouse will supply much-needed respite during cold winter months, inviting residents to stay in and hibernate while still enjoying a bit of greenery.

“We have this so people can make a holiday at home,” explains Siegel. “It’s easier to stay home and have the feeling of nature, so you maybe don’t take these holidays that are not necessary.”

A Fantastic Life

With an overall goal to reduce the number of cars on Malmö’s streets, it’s no surprise Cykelhuset Ohboy incorporates a variety of environmentally friendly elements. Local supplies have been integrated into the construction of the compound’s mezzanine and stairways. The balconies, meanwhile, come outfitted with irrigated garden boxes so that residents can grow their own vegetables year-round. In addition, the building’s design includes an interplay between the small lobby and interior stairwell to create cross-ventilation, making air conditioning unnecessary.

Thirty-percent of Malmö residents use their bikes on a daily basis, making Cykelhuset Ohboy a welcome addition to the neighborhood. While the building won’t be ready to accept residents until 2017, Mendel-Hartvig admits to already fielding inquiries from interested renters…

“We get all these people emailing us and saying their interested in renting an apartment, but so far we haven’t started signing the contracts. But we’re getting a lot of good response and people are very curious about it.”

“It’s all for people who want to live and have a fantastic life without owning their own car.”