Since the 17th century, the square Brunkebergstorg has acted as an important, central open space in the city of Stockholm. Used in the 17th century as a lookout point for spotting fires, by the 19th century the square had grown to be the city’s main representative space for Stockholm’s high society, accommodating a series of modern hotels and exclusive boutiques. From the 1930s onwards, Brunkebergstorg experienced heavy vehicular traffic and functioned as the main connection point for buses in the inner city. Following the expansion of Stockholm’s metro system in the post-war period, the square lost its main purpose and was more or less forgotten. In this sense, the square is less a classical square or a product of intentional design, and rather more simply “a place that has become so.”
In restoring Brunkebergstorg, Nivå aimed to recreate a sense of purpose, and to reinstate the square’s function as a central meeting point in the city. We did this by creating a considered design that both drew on the history of the square but that also acknowledged the modern, expanding city around it. In the surrounding area, a combination of offices, shops, residential buildings, and new hotels with restaurants and cafés have made the square a destination again. Together, this environment creates an exciting, hybrid mix.
Our point of departure
Brunkebergstorg is surrounded by an architecture that predominantly stems from the 1970s. The form and expression of adjacent buildings are characterized by a firm, geometric architecture, that is experienced in grayscale—these buildings make an elegant, but also heavy and static, impression on the visitor. The City Bank presents its main façade to the square—this building is architecturally the most prominent in relation to the site, and we therefore felt it important to show respect to this building in the design process. Upon closer study, the apparently rigid and geometric stone façade emerged as also accommodating a lively and dynamic expression, revealing details that are soft and non-linear—that can even be perceived as organic. The meeting between the static, geometric expression and this softer, more dynamic structure inspired the design of the square. An important aspect to take into consideration in the design was the movement of people that would likely be generated by new activities on the square and in its surroundings. The increase in pedestrians, cyclists, and cars; other modes of transport including emergency vehicles; as well as the need to ensure disabled access had to be accommodated when organizing the space. The design choices largely result from the direction of these flows.
The design of the square was inspired by the details of the façade of the City Bank, with its soft moldings in stone. The furniture is composed by three large, softly rounded, terrazzo elements that surround an area planted with trees; circular furniture surrounds the fountains. A strict paving treatment was chosen. The square’s design meets the needs of users of the square, providing formal and informal seating opportunities for all ages, beneath shady trees and within the “rooms” created by the design. Seasonal shifts, light, and water, as well as the form of carefully processed materials, all contribute to the experience of the space.
The Square adjoins several important streets and places, such as Drottninggatan and Sergelstorg, and links these together via a paved ground treatment. The location of the furniture creates a dynamic but clear arrangement of spaces. Three large planters of terrazzo, which are about 500 mm high, together with additional greenery, are placed at the center of the square, creating an interior, more protected, room. A clear and inviting opening between these two circular forms leads visitors into the square and up to the new Galleria’s main entrance. The inner square is intended to accommodate events of different kinds. Next to the eastern façade, there is space for alfresco dining. The elevated planter located outside the southern hotel entrance emphases the beginning and end of the square. The ground treatment continues along the street and the sidewalk, where Magnolia trees occupy large, concrete planter boxes. The trees reappear on the western side of the street and on the wide entrance square in front of the City Bank, making a cohesive and calm impression. The ground treatment consists of bush hammered stone in three different sizes, placed in a single, continuous direction, which creates a linear pattern that has a largely random rhythm. The lines are broken by other types of processed stone that introduce further life and variation to the surface and give the impression of both strong contrasts and subtle shades. All the materials we’ve used on the square are durable and will last. They provide an experience of elegance and solidity that, along with the chosen design language, corresponds to the architecture of the surroundings, adding a contemporary, playful and poetic atmosphere to this important part of Stockholm’s inner city.
Entrant office name: Nivå landskapsarkitektur AB
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Lighting: Black ljusdesign AB
Furniture: Together with DinellJohansson
Project location (Street, City, Country): Brunkebergstorg, Stockholm, Sweden
Design year: 2016
Year Built: 2018