You sometimes find art in the most unlikely of places and beneath Stockholm city is no exception. Under the Swedish capital lies an intricate web of underground train lines called the T-Bana short for Tunnelbana, it translates to 'Tunnel Railway' with three main lines red, blue and green. It's a distinctive metro of more than 100 stations along a 65 mile tunnel system. The T-Bana is sometimes referred to as the world’s longest art gallery because the majority of the stations have been decorated with amazing paintings, installations, mosaics and sculptures by 150 artists since the 1950's as part of Art in the Stockholm Metro project.
During the 1970's building techniques evolved and sprayed concrete was introduced to construct stations, the bland material and the cave like appearance they became known as 'Cave Stations' and there were actual fears that people would associate these cave like stations with the under world or would find them too gloomy so artists were instructed to transform them as they were the ideal blank canvas. The artist's had a vision to make underground travel an experience, not just commuting.
Ever since I discovered this unique metro system, I have always wanted to explore further and photograph more of these intriguing stations so below you'll find my favourites. Let's ride the T-Bana together as we go on a surreal visual journey through my selected stations, I have chosen these stations because of their individuality, their striking designs and vivid colours. We'll begin the journey on the Red T14 Line into the city, joining the Blue T11 Line and then tracing our route back to take the Blue T10 Line towards Duvbo then back to Fridhemsplan changing for the green line towards Odenplan. We start at Tekniska Högsk station then we head down towards T-Centralen (Central Station) change for Kungsträdgården station and then we head north towards Akalla station stopping of at the cool stations along the way. Ready? Lets go!
T14 RED LINE
T11 BLUE LINE:
T10 BLUE LINE
T17, T18, T19 GREEN LINE
RED LINE T14
1 / Tekniska Högskolan
Artist: Lennart Mörk
Opened in 1973 Tekniska Högskolan station is near the Royal Institute of Technology unsurprisingly the station is science themed and a large glass polyhedron takes centre stage hanging in between platforms representing one of Plato’s five elements: fire, water, air, earth, and ether.
2 / Stadion
Artist: Åke Pallarp and Enno Hallek
Opened in 1973 the bright blue and the vivid rainbow serves as a reminder that there is a sky not far above. The artists involved in the creation not only wanted to bring the sky underground but also to remind passengers of Stadion’s significance in sport’s history as a previous host for the Olympics.
BLUE LINE T11
3 / Kungsträdgården
Artist: Ulrik Samuelson
Opened in 1977 the station features relics from Kungsträdgården one of Stockholm’s oldest public parks. Translated it means The King’s Garden and the station was inspired by the area’s royal history and the previous site of the majestic Makalös Palace above. Here you'll discover sculptures, pillars, and painted checkerboard murals. It feels like you have fallen down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.
4 / T- Centralen
Artist: Per Olof Ultvedt
Opened in 1975 T-Centralen was the first station to feature artwork, the blue colour dominates the station with beautiful painted blue vines on a white back ground, silhouettes of figures also feature on the walls as the artist wanted to commemorate the workers who built the station and the blue colour was used to provide a state of calmness as it is one of the busiest stations in the metro.
5 / Rådhuset
Artist: Sigvard Olsson
Opened in 1975 Rådhuset station is below the Court House and these huge mock foundations represent the footings. Like other stations on the Stockholm metro the station features organic architecture, exposed bedrock as if based on natural cave systems and the artist has included imaginative architectural finds from different periods in Stockholms history.
6 / Västra Skogen
Artist: Sivert Lindblom
Opened in 1975 Västra Skogen means the Western Forest that was previously called The Nothing Forest after a farm nearby was called Nothing. This intriguing history and myths of the forest inspired the artist and the station is represented by colourful ceramic tiles with various patterns offering the commuter a sense of wonder.
7 / Solna Centrum
Artist: Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg
Opened in 1975 Solna Centrum is one of the popular stations to visit because of the striking red colour that dominates the station it offers a feeling of a nether world. The artists used green to represent the forest and red for the evening sun, setting behind the treetops. Originally the walls were supposed to be only green and red but illustrations were painted by the artists to represent some of the most debated societal issues Sweden in the 1970's; the environment, over logging of forests and the depopulation of rural areas.
8 / Akalla
Artist: Birgit Ståhl-Nyberg
Opened in 1977 Akalla is the final stop on Line 11 of the Blue Line, the station features an ochre coloured walls and the work includes ceramic pictures illustrating ideals, daily life, leisure and work of people.
Now we head back to Västra Skogen and change to T10 line towards Hjulsta.
BLUE LINE T10
9 / Huvudsta
Artist: Per Holmberg
Opened in 1985 the artist was inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It offers a futuristic atmosphere with contrasting elements of bold colours, bright steel and converging lines.
10 / Solna Strand
Artist: Takashi Naraha
Opened 1985 blue cubes jut out from the cave like ceiling and the dark concrete platform at Solna Strand station, giving the commuter a snippet of a heavenly sky. This contrast of light and the dark is characteristic of Takashi Naraha’s work, the Japanese artist often uses a Ying and Yang theme in his artwork, a balance between light and darkness.
11 / Sundbybergs Centrum
Artist: Lars Kleen
Opened in 1985 the station is a tribute to the city's industrial history and architectural craft. The bold use of colour for the ceiling contrasts with the exposed bedrock and industrial warehouse inspired roof supports.
12 / Duvbo
Artist Gosta Sillén
Opened in 1985 the station features frescoes of fossils and carvings of archaeological remains. It feels like you have travelled down into the centre of the earth passing through a historical timeline of the world.
Now for the final stop, I'm saving the best till last we're taking the blue line towards Fridhemsplan and changing for the green line towards Odenplan
GREEN LINE T17, T18 or T19
13 / Odenplan
Artist: David Svensson
Odenplan has to be one of my favourite stations to photograph, it's a real highlight of the metro system and a stunning design. The station opened in 2017 and it features a captivating installation designed by David Svensson that is situated at the western entrance of the station. Svensson gathered his inspiration from the birth of his baby son and used his sons heartbeat on the CTG monitor during childbirth to create jagged illuminated lines that travel between the upper and lower platforms the effect is mesmerising, the fluorescent white light ricochets off metallic surfaces and reflective floors it creates a wonderful display and is certainly one of Tunnelbana's most eye catching pieces.