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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