The redesign of Stortorget and the adjacent street Nygatan, located in Gävle city center, was completed and open for the public in September 2010. This concluded a nearly five-year long process of designing the most important public space of the city! Beautiful, functional, classic and at the same time innovative – those where the ambitions for the design.
Following an open prequalifying phase, Gävle municipality invited four landscape architecture firms to participate in a design competition. The purpose of the competition was to have the area analyzed from a number of social, physical, and economical aspects, and to generate proposals for how the existing urban space from the early 1970’s could be updated. There was a desire to achieve a unifying design for the whole competition area, where the connections to the city would be more pronounced, connectivity improved, and where businesses using the square would be given appropriate locations and space. Stortorget was envisioned to become a place for life and activity during all hours of the day, and all seasons of the year. It was important that the area could develop as a place of business and trade and allow for commercial activity linked to the buildings throughout the competition area. The competition was won by AJ Landskap in collaboration with Sture Koinberg AB with the proposal ”Damast”.
The proposal gives the square a distinct structure that enables various uses and allows the space to change over time. The square has been divided in to three different zones- each with different character: the open square, the intimate square, and the commercial square. The three zones are tied into a unified whole by the continuous floor of the square, with its discreetly nuanced but characteristic geometric granite pattern.
The open square enables flexibility for various uses throughout the day and the year. The patterned granite weave expands to is full width here, turning the Stortorget square into the main public space in the city- both for the everyday-use and for special occasions. During the summer the space is adorned with flowers in wide round Corten-steel urns. The open square is framed by Erik Höglund’s concrete relief pylons from the 1970’s, which along with the existing fully grown linden trees remain on the square- to preserve and emphasize the history of the square and of Gävle city.
The intimate square is intended as a space for gathering and relaxation in connection to the small restaurant pavilion and its outdoor seating. Here the weave of granite is coming undone towards the edges, and wood and water is woven into the pattern. The wood raises up from the ground to form furniture in a wave motion that wraps around a small playground. Next to the furniture there is a rectangular fountain where the water jets vary in height and intensity. Along with the furniture, the rhythmic cascades from the fountain creates a playful element on the square that delight both young and old.
The commercial square is mainly concentrated along the Drottninggatan street on the southern end of the square. The market spaces are divided into blocks, where each space has a roof of yellow textile. This is both intended to introduce an element of color to the square and gives the market its own coherent character and identity.
The floor of Stortorget is its most prominent feature. It consists solely of Swedish natural stone. The rectangular weave-like surface of granite slabs consists of three kinds of stone with distinct differences in nuances. Along with two different kinds of surface treatments (bush hammered and flamed), the result is a patterned surface where the hues and shine vary depending on the time of year, weather, and light. The granite surface is broken up into long segments of slabs which are divided by bands of Corten steel.
The central rectangular floor surface of granite slabs is framed by classic cobblestones laid in a fan pattern. To create a dynamic expression, the surface consists of four different kinds of stone. At the most important pedestrian paths the stone is flamed, to create a smoother and more accessible surface.
The square extends out across the street of Nygatan. Nygatan has been given a soft and warm expression where it connects to the square, and although it has a certain amount of traffic it links the square with businesses and points of interest on the opposite side of the street.
Landscape Architecture: AJ Landskab
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (architects and landscape architects): Artist: Design Studio Bernstrand, Kristina Matousch, Ingegerd Harvard
Project location: Stortorget, Gävle, Sweden
Design year: 2006-2009
Year Built: 2009-2010
Photo: Kasper Dudzik