Sct Olai went from being a non-space to providing Roskilde with a calm and timeless urban space. Here, the subtle use of new and re-used materials of high quality gives identity and atmosphere to the quiet square and passage that runs parallel to the busy pedestrian street.
Before, it was a parking lot on the backside of the shopping street, a non-space that you would just pass by. Now, it is an important link of ‘Kulturstrøget’, a network of cultural institutions, and the square functions as entrance to Roskilde Art Museum. The transformation is part of the city’s strategy to create more variation in the city center by designing spaces that highlight the cultural institutions and urban spaces that are without commercial character. As such, Sct Olai provides a break from the shopping street and room for reflection and conversation.
The square consists of only a few elements – a granite pavement, granite slabs for accessibility, a brick wall, a small stream in cast iron and the sculpture ‘Ragnarok’ by the Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard.
All the materials used are long-lasting. The chosen materials blend in with and complement the surroundings. With a repurposed granite stone as the main element, the granite stones were originally part of the pavement around Roskilde Cathedral. The water canal in cast iron highlights the tactility of the rough granite, setting a new contemporary frame.
The square was missing a façade to the east, so we introduced a brick wall that separates the parking from the square. The dark brick was chosen for its color and high tactility, and every other row of bricks are brought forward to create visual interest. The terrain slopes from Algade towards the museum and the wall having the same top level from start to finish allows it to function as a 50 cm seating wall at its lowest point. The direction of the wall is broken along its course, to form a series of seating niches with benches orientated towards the afternoon sun.
A small stream flows from a water feature at Algade in a cast-iron canal. The water runs across the square and ends around the sculpture in front of the museum. The flat steps of the canal create a trickling sound and draw your attention to the water, thus underlining the quiet character of the square as opposed to the busy Algade. Placing the water feature close to Algade invites shoppers and passers-by towards the square and the museum.
Office: MASU Planning
Office role: Main consultant
Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Design year: 2013
Year of construction: 2015
Area: 1,200 m2
Budget: 3,000,000 DKR / 401.871 EUR
Client: Roskilde Municipality
Image credits: Kirstine Autzen