Östra Drottninggatan is one of Gävle’s most visited pedestrian streets. It was completed and inaugurated to the public in 2020 after a restoration. The design is developed by Karavan landskapsarkitekter with the main purpose of strengthening the street’s role in the city centre, making it an obvious point of destination for both visitors and residents. Since the restoration, Östra Drottninggatan has become a popular meeting spot as it has turned into a more inviting, attractive, livelier public space. It is a shopping street in a small scale with several spaces and opportunities to linger, gather and socialize along the way. The street is also being used as a venue for public events.
Östra Drottninggatan stretches over five blocks with a length of 300 m. It welcomes and invites visitors to various commercial businesses, cafés, restaurants and shops located along the way. Other points of destination and objects are also added to create curiosity and encourage visitors to stop and experience what the street has to offer. For example, durable seating in various forms is found as well as a drinking fountain, ’Walk of Fame’ and art.
The new design also involves more vegetation, like trees and flowers, creating a lusher and greener environment than before. The stormwater runoff is optimized by being directed and delayed by the trees planted in structural soil and biochar. The focus has also been on sustainability though recycling. The municipality’s existing flower urns have been reused and repainted in the pedestrian street’s new brown-red colour. Overall, a clear and elegant design language is used in line with the aim for the upgraded street to be robust and last over time.
The buildings along Östra Drottninggatan show a great variation in age and style. New trees and other equipment are placed with great care and accuracy in the street space, so that they do not obstruct the experience of the designated historic buildings. A clear view is kept along the middle of the street, which gives a proximity to the shops on both the north and south side. No trees block the line of sight in the alleys crossing the street from north to south, to emphasize the structure of the grid city.
The new design encourages movement across the direction of the street. A cohesive floor is laid out to avoid division in the longitudinal direction, and to create a flow from facade to facade. The floor invites visitors to stroll freely and cross the street as they wish. This also creates a more accessible environment. Östra Drottninggatan dominates the crossing streets and is visible from the surrounding alleys. The pavement is designed in a unique pattern to give the experience of a pedestrian street with its own character. The pattern is inspired by the intersecting walkways of Rådhusesplanaden, an adjacent esplanade and important area for the city’s public transport. The diagonals found there are continued here, but in a different form.
The pavement and its pattern should give a feeling of a cosy rug, where the visitor can feel like being in the centre, as well as being encouraged to want to stop and spend time. One of the goals in the upgrade was to create places where citizens can feel safe in the public space without requiring them to take part in the commercial offers. To achieve this goal, Karavan had a close collaboration with the municipality, clients, operators and other involved groups to find common solutions with security and equality in focus.
Ground heating keeps the ice and snow away during wintertime to maintain accessibility. Playful heated-up seating furniture is also placed along the street, to provide a variety of opportunities to stop and sit down throughout the year. This allows the public place and city centre to be welcoming and attractive for use all year round in the Nordic climate.
’Walk of fame’ is a permanent installation with seventeen mirrors combined with silhouettes of famous profiles from Gävle. The main idea was a citizen proposal meaning to draw attention to the selection of well-known Gävle profiles that in some way put the city and the municipality on the map – contemporary as well as historical. A campaign was launched where residents were invited to nominate profiles. Seventeen final profiles were selected trough voting by a jury. The design was then developed by Karavan and incorporated in the restoration of Östra Drottninggatan. The purpose is welcoming visitors to the route and for them to reflect in the personalities of Gävle.
Together with light designers Black ljusdesign, Karavan has developed a wire hanged lighting installation that forms a transparent roof and enhances the identity and experience of a small-scale street. Inspiration for the armatures has been taken from the district of Gästrikland’s symbolic flower ’lily of the valley’, which with its bell-shaped petals and simple elegance becomes a natural shape. The lights are designed as a stylized version of the ’lily of the valley’ with a long mounting that forms the stem and a rounded cup that forms the flower petals. These lights are a characteristic element for Östra Drottninggatan, giving the street a unique expression. The facade lighting in addition to the many hanging lights creates an inviting experience in aim to make the street feel safe.
Light designers: Black ljusdesign
Project location: Östra Drottninggatan, Gävle, Sweden
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2020
Client: Gävle municipality
Photos: Göran Ekeberg, Robin Hayes and Jann Lipka / Nola