A future streetscape in Växjö
Designing for livability, rain and biodiversity.
With a vision to connect the city between the lakes in Växjö, urban development project Bäckaslöv includes 1200 new housing, offices, commerce and schools. The esplanade in Bäckaslöv forms a structural element in the 58-hectare district and becomes the backbone that connects and collects flows, activities and movements of people, water, mobility and public spaces such as the square and the district park – both within and to and from the new district. The design of the streetscape was developed in close collaboration between landscape architects, stormwater specialists and traffic planners at ÅF and the municipality.
From the proposed idea in the detailed development plan of a grand symmetrical boulevard to conclude in a human-centred asymmetric esplanade – the disposition of the streetscape section has been carefully analysed and undergone an extensive process of anchoring the design with the municipality’s administrations. The final design distributes areas in order to promote the social life of the street and to form a democratic streetscape of spatial conditions which enhance encounters between people – on the sunny side of the street, close to shops and the square, large green areas are available for the slow flow of pedestrians, a child-friendly city walk with many intimate meeting places well protected from the esplanade's car traffic. Across the street the pace is faster, here a bicycle lane with unbroken flows allow for efficient commuting.
The streets ecological functions are ensured through a sustainable use of stormwater together with resilient and carefully adapted plant material. In consultation with planting experts from SLU (H. Sjöman, B. Wiström) species have been selected to form an arboretum esplanade that can withstand the expected climate changes of the future. The basis of the esplanade is the pin oak, with additions of dawn redwood, black pine, honey locust and red ash. In order to favour the pollination of insects smaller shrub-trees of early-flowering species has been added (cornelian cherry, allegheny serviceberries, toringa crab apple). The insect life is further favoured by a herb layer of flowering perennials with a meadow character that reoccurs throughout the esplanade. The vegetation is planted in generous beds of nutrient-enriched coal which also make up a detention reservoir for stormwater from the street and sidewalks. In the event of heavy cloudburst, the esplanade interacts with a nearby park where a detention reservoir is actively integrated into an urban play environment.
The streets disposition has also been studied carefully from a perspective of mobility and crisis response to cope with important functions for evacuation vehicles and diversion from other street networks.
First life, then space - then buildings! The challenges have been many, ranging from the projects organization, technical complexity, mass balance, availability and size. The result is therefore a compromise and hybrid between the various requirements that have been examined during the design process - and during the sustainability week in Lund 2019 we shared our experiences and challenges in a practice meets academia urban forum.