Karavan: The city of Bollnäs’ new Brotorget is a place to come home to, a place to meet or just be, and a place with a feeling of home with warmth for the young and the old, summer or winter. Karavan won the tender with the ”Heart of Bollnäs” proposal in a recent call for a new design for Brotorget and the adjacent streets in downtown Bollnäs. To cite the jury’s decision, the proposal showed a superior understanding of ”the city center with a strong connection to the countryside identity and individuality. The proposal distinguishes the urban sense of the contemporary, the near term and the past as sustainability, accessibility, and safety. The proposal makes Brotorget the kind of attractive meeting place an city square ought to be”.
The idea for the design of the square and adjacent streets was to encompass activities and destinations formed with inspiration from the colorful rural traditions here in the very cozy nook of home. Brotorget is reborn as the heart of the city, the place to be anytime there’s nothing on and every time there’s something on. Brotorget is based on an open and flexible surface with capacity for such activities as vendors and craft merchants, concerts, lectures, performances, and events. Rows of young birch trees will buffer Brotorget from the traffic of Nygatan, while still allowing for contact with all of the facades about the square. Dispersed among the seating areas, perennials and trees line the inner sides of the square.
The floor of the square draws its pattern from the lace and embroidery traditions of Hälsingland. The floor declares its identity unequivocally and reflects the significance of the square as a meeting place of regional importance. Brotorget is a place to go to see and be seen. The most sun-drenched part of the square has a number of fixed tables and chairs, a perfect place to take it all in.
The stage is an important part of Brotorget. The red stage will capture the gaze of the entire square and become an important symbol for deepening how one understands of Bollnäs and its culture. The stage is shaped without a rear wall and has a roofline inspired by the rolling hills of Hälsingland. The scene bears an outer coat of red pine tar and sawdust, a further connection with Hälsingland tradition. The stage floor is wooden and can also serve as a roofed seating area, a place for dance, and spontaneous performances for all ages. The stage features built-in audio equipment that can be activated and remotely controlled from an assigned telephone. The southern edge of the stage forms a generous area to simply bask in the sun together. The stage is open from two directions, bordered by the background of wispy birch.
Furnishing and equipment all serve towards convergent sense of character and colours clearly hold the place together in a tangible way. There will always be lots of seating, which means people can reclaim Brotorget as the public living room, the place to meet and the place you want to be. Bollnäs has actually designed the Bollnäs chair with accompanying table, created especially for this project. These chairs and tables are fixed to the ground and are out and available on a year-round basis, with colours based on nuances of red and single bits of yellow, inspired by the colours of the countryside.
On one side of the square there is a playground. The theme of the playground is the city square’s motto the “heart of Bollnäs”, where the cozy nook of home and Hälsingland’s traditions are what it’s all about. Here you will find an entire miniature world of rag carpets, trampolines, kitchenette bistros, hammocks, and slides. The design of the playground was in part self-evident considering the holistic vision that went into the square, so colors and materials are attuned to the whole and draw on the tones and tools of Hälsingland’s proud agrarian heritage.
The project was nominated for the Siena prize 2017.
Location: Bollnäs, Sweden
Design year: 1:st Prize Architectural Competition, 2012-2014
Year of construction: 2016
Area: 4900 m2
Landscape architect: Karavan
Client: Bollnäs municipality
Budget: 1 600 000 EUR