Thorbjörn Andersson with Sweco Architects: The Almen Square sits on the edge of the Klar River in the mid-sized Swedish city of Karlstad. This part of town owns historic values and is also the highlight of the riverside promenade which runs through central Karlstad. The Almen square thus has a strategic position where it connects the city with the river and defines the center of the “old town”. The Almen Square offers grand vistas, an active urban life and is a stopping point for the public transportation on the river; the so called boat bus.
The square used to be not more than an opening in the grid plan. Today it is restored into a plaza with solid qualities such as sitting, gazing, playing, and resting. It is a medium-sized square, located by the river, for everyday use. The point of departure for the square has been an existing elm tree, Ulmus glabra, which as a species is not so common due to the Dutch elm decease. This tree also provides the urban site with lush greenery, big volume and seasonal variation.
The tree is inscribed within a frame of solid granite, serving as a planting box, but the geometric outline is also for seating. This frame is multiplied into additional planting boxes of the same kind, containing perennials and grass, forming a playful variation in geometric shapes. The granite frames are designed at seating height to permit informal seating in different directions. Also included in the design is a water feature. Here, a rectangle of roughly cut granite is placed level to the ground over which water gently trickles. Finally, there is a series of eight solid granite blocks, carved out to offer different ways of sitting/ climbing/ playing. The granite blocks face the river. On the granite blocks, the artist Carl Boutard has attached bronze sculptures in the shape of bronze replicas of vegetal parts, which are findings from the site.
Project name: Almen square
Project Location: Karlstad, Sweden
Client: City of Karlstad
Landscape architect: Thorbjörn Andersson with Sweco architects
Design Team: PeGe Hillinge, Staffan Sundström, Anders Blomberg
Artist: Carl Boutard
Area: 1500 m2