Redesign of the city market square.
Mari Koskinen, Tiina Olli, Mika Woll
City of Östersund, shop keepers, real estate owners
10 000 m2
Östersund is a beautiful small city in Northern Sweden. The main square, market place, was created 200 years ago. It has a unique character since it slopes towards the lake, and is almost nine meters in length. During the 80’s and 90’s the same happened here as happened in so many other small cities: the trade started to move to new places following the forces of money and cars. Market place lost its location as the focal point of a city structure.
The discussion on what to do had been going on for many, many years. 2003 – 2004 all parties involved decided to try to do something together, shopkeepers, theatre, real estate owners and the community. I was asked to come there to give an inspirational lecture. After the lecture I was asked to make a simple sketch on what to do, how to find the meaning and reason for the place.
At those northern latitudes the yearly rhythm of light is a strong factor. In the summer time the sun stays up late in the evening and in the winter time the darkness is overwhelming. I started to dream about a plaza which would somehow play with these things. I started to look at the sun with different eyes, its play in the fields and trees. I started to observe the moon again. Sun is the donator of light, moon is a reflector and receiver. Could a plaza use the natural light as an architectural element, something to create an atmosphere with.
It was summertime and I lived in a small cottage close by Helsinki in Suvisaaristo, Summer Islands. I woke up every morning really early since the sun started to shine in through the window. I bought a yellow blanket from Ikea with 2 euros and hung it in the window. But I still could not sleep. The play of shadows from the trees, waving in the wind, and the play of sun light was so beautiful that I just had to wake up every morning to observe it. I started to wonder if Östersund market place could take the role of the moon, to be something which reflects the light, plays with the unique Northern quality of light and darkness. The Golden Plaza of Östersund.
Plaza started to have two different scales. Small scale for the sides and a larger scale for the middle part. The side areas got the role to play with light. They will get the golden stones. In practice this might mean yellow concrete stones with some reflecting particles. In the evening this yellow zone will be lit so that it will create the yellow reflections through out the day and night. Life will start to flow on these yellow areas. Dark grey center area will be used for market, bigger events, in the winter for sledge riding, even for skiing. Östersund is a winter city as well. One important part of this work was to study the situations all year through, with four seasons. Let’s hope that this dream will come true.