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A lake­side square with feel-good factor
For the land­scape plan­ners at Sydväst in Malmo, the key to the qua­lity of public spaces is its feel-good factor. This Swe­dish way of thin­king has also been applied to the rede­sign of the Vat­ten­tor­get, a lake­side loca­tion in Växjö. With a modest budget but lots of good ideas and sen­si­tive use of ligh­ting, they have suc­cee­ded in crea­ting a new access point to the lake and a place to relax in which both locals and visi­tors can feel good.

Our goal was to gene­rate the fee­ling of a care­fully desi­gned envi­ron­ment using the mini­mum of inter­ven­tions and simple mate­rials.”

Wooden plat­forms pro­vide access to the water where pre­viously a quay wall with a rai­ling formed a bar­rier.

Life by or with water is an inte­gral part of the Swe­dish iden­tity – and the small uni­ver­sity town of Växjö in the south of Sweden is no excep­tion. Its name means way bet­ween the lakes” and the town is embed­ded bet­ween a mul­ti­tude of waters inclu­ding Lake Växjö in the south of the town centre. The Vat­ten­tor­get is a popu­lar mee­ting point directly along­side the lake. The town coun­cil had the idea of repla­cing the exis­ting water­side, which was sepa­ra­ted from the lake by a rai­ling, with a wooden ter­race with step­ped levels towards the water in order to create a place with impro­ved sojourn qua­lity that enhances the lei­sure time of locals and visi­tors.

Having already draf­ted a design for a new the­me­ba­sed play­ground for the adja­cent Lin-népark, the Sydväst bureau was also com­mis­sio­ned with the rede­sign of the Vat­ten­tor­get, making use of the oppor­tu­nity to opti­mise the link bet­ween the park and Lake Växjö at the same time. The rede­si­gned Vat­ten­tor­get is espe­cially inten­ded to improve usage of this splen­did water­side loca­tion while at the same time for­ming a closed-off area connec­ting the water-front pro­me­nades around the lake. The goal was the­re­fore to deve­lop the visual axis from the park to lake, making sure the open, paved area towards the town remai­ned avai­lable for ver­sa­tile use. To enable the cha­rac­ter of this water-side loca­tion to remain clearly visible at night time, the Sydväst plan­ners also spe­ci­fied reser­ved, zero glare ligh­ting that doesn’t impair the view.

Visual axes connect the town of Växjö with the water expanse of the lake of the same name.

The pro­ject pro­vi­ded the plan­ners with some par­ti­cu­lar chal­lenges. For example, to remain within the limits of the budget, the old paving stones on the north of the square were reused. With the design of the wooden ter­race, the archi­tects tried to get as close as pos­sible to the water but had to take into account an exis­ting rain­wa­ter chan­nel that runs below the ter­race. The area is criss­cros­sed by cycle paths so it was impor­tant to slow down the bike traf­fic gently and divert it around the wooden ter­race. Our goal was to gene­rate a fee­ling of a care­fully desi­gned envi­ron­ment with the mini­mum of inter­ven­tions and simple mate­rials,” reports Niklas Bosrup, who was in charge of the pro­ject at Sydväst. This proved par­ti­cu­larly suc­cess­ful due to the effec­ti­vely desi­gned details such as the sea­ting areas with their variously incli­ned edges or the roun­ded edging on the wooden planks – but also by means of the addi­tio­nal ligh­ting inte­gra­ted into the sea­ting areas where light appears to seep out from the below the wood, enabling its weight
to appear to hover gently.

Engen­de­ring sojourn qua­lity: The orga­nic look and feel of Olivio lumi­naires and the pro­jec­tive effect that recalls sun­light being fil­te­red through foliage.
Light plan­ner: ÅF Ligh­ting
Pho­to­gra­pher: Werner Nys­trand

For the plan­ners at Sydväst, public loca­tions of this nature should always be focus­sed on a feel-good factor for human beings. We view the water­side plat­form at Vat­ten­tor­get as a place for relaxing and being close to nature,” the land­scape archi­tect explains. We have tried to create a wide range of options for pas­sing time by the water.” The ter­race is now also an ideal star­ting point for spor­ting acti­vi­ties like stand-up paddle boar­ding in summer or ice ska­ting in winter. With its pro­jec­ted pat­terns the ligh­ting is remi­nis­cent of sun­light cast through foliage. It also creates a space with sojourn qua­lity during dark­ness that sets itself apart from the sur­roun­dings and from the lake‘s sur­face. As a tech­ni­cal basis for ligh­ting, the plan­ners opted for the Olivio because of its balan­ced shape and friendly, orga­nic design – espe­cially impor­tant since the light pole occu­pies a soli­tary posi­tion,” explains Mr Bosrup: Howe­ver, it was also the visual pre­ci­sion of the gobo pro­jec­tors and the fair price/​performance ratio that won us over.”

SYDVÄST arki­tek­tur och land­skap deve­lops inte­gra­ted archi­tec­tu­ral land­scape solu­tions based on condi­tions at the loca­tion. The bureau in Malmo works on pro­jects throug-hout Sweden in the areas of urban and land­scape plan­ning and envi­ron­men­tal design. Sydväst was foun­ded in 2002 and cur­rently employs 12 staff.

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