The architects of Karavan Landskapsarkitekter have transformed the pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden, into a place to linger lined with a stone pavement

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.

The pattern of granite ashlars creates an air of turbulence so pedestrians will notice without walking past

Simply taking car traffic out of a street and hoping that a pedestrian zone will automatically emerge is a pipe dream. Often the result is only a kind of escape route, where from citizens instead of vehicles rush past the stores. Kristina Ehrstedt and Anna Söderkvist from the architectural firm Karavan Landskapsarkitekter have shown how pavement can help to turn the transit zone into a place to linger, using the example of the street Kungsängsgatan in the Swedish city of Uppsala: a tumultuous pattern on the floor breaks up the flow and creates, as it were, a long line of small swirls.

The trick is that the whole thing looks random, but it is not.

Kungsängsgatan is the old heart in the country’s fourth largest city. Since time immemorial, it has been THE shopping area there and, like all other city centers, has recently had to contend with competition from the shopping centers on the greenfield sites. Recently, there were also problems of a technical nature: the subsoil consists of clay, and so parts of the street kept sinking.

When a renovation in the southern part of the street could no longer be postponed, the city administration took the opportunity and decided on a comprehensive solution.

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.

This also included visually upgrading the shopping area: Swedish granite was used for the paving , to give the overall appearance an expression of “high value and durability,“ as the architects emphasize.

This is a prerequisite for attracting high-end stores and consumerist customers.

The clear separation of traffic areas between pedestrians and cyclists provides orientation and safety for pedestrians. However, the design also invites people to cross the street – presumably this is also achieved by the overall type of paving, which is uniform across the entire area.

The paving consists of natural stone ashlars in four different sizes, all of which
have simple rectangular shape. In terms of colors, there are some with a red tone, otherwise it is light or dark gray. It is Bohus granite (Tossene Gråm and Bohus Nolby) with flamed and bushhammered surfaces respectively.

The stones are 8 cm thick so that they can withstand heavy loads, for example, during delivery traffic or emergency operations.

Immediately in front of the stores runs a narrow band of old paving stones left over from the former road surface.

The following plan shows how the pattern in the paving is designed. It was also used by the workmen to lay the stones.

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.

The architects solved the problem with the clay-rich subsoil elegantly: a light filling material was used for the structure so that no additional loads were created. Where there had been differences in level in the roadway for ages, these were retained and bordered by low steps. In this way, the previous entrances to the stores were preserved.

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.

At the same time, this provided an opportunity to use the steps for benches. These, in turn, are equipped with sockets for charging cell phones.

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.

In addition to the benches, with Scandinavian oak as the seating surface, there are irregularly spaced concrete seat cushions for the children. They were designed especially for Kungsängsgatan.

The goal of the redesign was to make everyone want to visit the shopping street and spend time there. The key words were “timeless – small format – eventful.“

To avoid poles obstructing the street, the lamps hang on wires from house to house.

Nine trees were planted to bring the seasons into the shopping area. There are tubs for flowering plants.

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: pedestrian zone in Uppsala, Sweden.

The total cost was SEK 30 million (just under US$2.9 million).

The project was awarded the Swedish Natural Stone Association’s 2022 prize.

Karavan’s architects have often developed unusual pavements. Below we show a photo from the street Östra Drottninggatan in the city of Kumla.

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter

Östra Drottninggatan, Kumla

Photos: Jann Lipka / Karavan

Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: street Östra Drottninggatan in the Swedish city of Kumla.Karavan Landskapsarkitekter: street Östra Drottninggatan in the Swedish city of Kumla.

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(20.03.2023, USA; 03.20.2023)