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.
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.