Expe­ri­ence

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.
www​.syd​vast​.se

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