Tøyen Square

Tøyen Square and its four main entrances were completely redesigned with new paving, lighting, vegetation, and seating areas. The city of Oslo wanted to create a main square that represented Tøyen’s history, placement in the local community, and to make it a more attractive and safe meeting place. Under the direction of the City Environmental Agency in Oslo, Byverkstedet carried out a temporary project with varied seating installations that included vegetation. This collaborative design process resulted in feedback from the local community that would be implemented in the final project. The client’s goal was that the design of the square would reflect the “Tøyen-ness”, or the identity of the surrounding multicultural landscape.

The square is a clearly defined place, much like a classic piazza. It is surrounded by tall brick buildings from the 1970’s housing cafes, boutiques, outdoor seating and meeting places. There has always been a very active street life throughout the square and it was important to preserve the open and inviting qualities which allow people to stop or circulate through the space.

The concept of the “Tøyen carpets” was established by designing three different brick paving patterns. Carpet patterns from around the world were referenced by the large diamond pattern on the central square. The outer zones were identified with lighting, seating and raised vegetation planters. The central zone remains open and unprogrammed. The carpet patterns “blomst” (flower) and “Biblo” (named after the local children’s library) were installed on the Hagegata street entrance ways.

The eight brick colours were based on the existing color palette of the facades and other elements on the site. The seating areas were built up as two-sided brick walls which create a visual and vertical extension of the carpet. Feedback during the collaborative design process reflected that the multi-use seating areas were the most popular with the community. These create open meeting places where it is possible to sit, play, recline and relax. In addition, the raised planters were popular during the feedback process. These planters were integrated into small, intimate spaces with the brick seating and a mini- amphitheatre. The original lighting from the 1970’s was protected early in the process by the Cultural Heritage Management Office as a part of the squares identity. They were eventually replaced by similar lights in a copper color with glass domes.

As the community takes ownership of the open square in the years to come, they can use it as a rotating events space, for example as a marketplace, concert stage, or for other events.

Role of the office in the project: Landscape Architects: Grindaker
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Artist Mari Meen Halsøy in collaboration with T-town Youths. Lighting design: Zenisk AS
Project location: Tøyen neighborhood, Oslo, Norway
Design year: 2016
Year Built: 2018

Photos: Damian Heinisch

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