Stockholm is a city on the water, set where two archipelagoes meet: on one side, there is the fresh-water Lake Mälaren; on the other, the salt-water Baltic Sea. Between the two is interspersed a mosaic of convex rocky islands. These form the essential geographic qualities of the Swedish capital. The design of Sjövik Square draws on these qualities. Situated on the Årstadal quay the square opens toward the water to embrace the larger landscape.
Supporting this basic idea the square takes form as a flat plane angled by 3 % towards the primary view. Two recreational lawns, bounded by broad granite edges for seating, furnish the upper section of the space. The lawns rise gradually from the ground plane to make the slope of the plaza more apparent. To permit handicap access they are set flush with the ground at their south end.
A pair of 100-meter-long wooden promenades frame the plaza and bracket the view. Along their outer edges they offer surfaces for sitting that encourages contact with the social life of the plaza. To the west they step toward the water as a series of terraces that catch the sun. A pier forms the plaza’s eastern limit; it extends 40 meters beyond the quay and hovers over the water. By stretching the length of the boardwalks this essentially north-facing square maximizes access to the available sunlight. The elongated piers trap the water between them as a part of the plaza, thus doubling the volume of usable surface area.
Balancing the openness of the triangular plaza, a second triangle—formed as a grove of Honey locust trees—occupies the space’s western perimeter. The trees stand in the same gravel that hosts a small playground and lanes for bouclé games. The grove descends into a sunken garden shaded by cherry trees.
Included in the design is a 35-meter-wide water feature: its thin layer of water rushes over a surface sheathed with Norwegian slate and an environmental sculpture by the artist Jan Svenungsson. This artwork consists of three large boulders, one of them engraved with headlines taken from the city’s newspapers on the day the square opened to the public. To borrow a distant landscape with the help of a framed view is a classic technique used by Japanese master gardens. This is a logical practice: at times the strongest features of a site actually lie beyond its immediate borders.
Designed by Thorbjörn Andersson and the project team Pege Hillinge, Andreas Johansson, Jimmy Norrman, Emma Pettersson, Lin Wiklund; the area consists 12.000m² hardscape, 1.000.000m² lake inlet.
text&images: Thorbjörn Andersson