Nivå aspires to collaboratively develop the field of landscape architecture. Our work is site-specific and always begins with local conditions; we aim to make a poetic and playful contribution to a broader spatial tradition within landscape architecture. In each project, we work to establish meaningful relations between analysis, concept, and material expression—from concept to completion, we aim to produce contemporary landscape architecture that lasts. We generally work with commissioned projects, but even pursue these aims through educational activities and studies.
Place-Specific Landscape Architecture
All of Nivå’s projects are based upon robust analyses. We always take local conditions as our starting point: that our proposals come from our interpretation of the specificities of a given place is evident in the finished space. Analyses and studies thereby constitute a natural part of our practice, acting as the basis upon which decisions are made about how cultural preservation environments or large-scale open greenspace will be treated in a design.
A Spatial Tradition
The acts of framing that we perform as landscape architects produce spaces; in the long run, such spaces constitute the durable expressions of landscape architecture. This includes the large-scale structural frames, that between them frame our experience of the city—its rhythms and sequences—but also the subtle frames provided by vegetation, topography, or built elements, which produce parks. Beyond working with design concepts or furniture, it is these acts, rather, which form the basis of our discipline.
A Poetic and Playful Contribution
The character and atmosphere of a space can provoke feelings and create memorable experiences. Poetry and playfulness in the design of the urban and rural landscape create an extra dimension of experience within our everyday lives, compelling us to stop and to stay for a moment, or making us think or feel more deeply. The playful and the unexpected disrupt the realities we found ourselves within, helping us to create positive associations in relation to the places where we live.
Landscape Architecture as an Expression of the Present
We take great care to take into account the marks that we leave on the histories of each place that we work with. Beyond their current popularity, citizen dialogue processes provide a way to understand the needs of users: they allow answers to emerge from the place itself, and constitute an important element in contemporary landscape architecture practice. Nivå aspires to make clear the importance of public spaces to the public. To influence the present, we must actively take part in the public discourse surrounding landscape architecture; through lecturing and coordinating courses within art and architecture programs, we also develop the field in a range of new and innovative directions.
From concept to finished space
Our aim is to see the design process to fruition in each project. In the translations from idea to sketch to design drawing, both the analysis and the concept are incrementally developed. To keep a red thread alive throughout a project is a challenge. Nivå has amassed a great deal of experience across a range of built projects, combining technical expertise with design skill. We have also collaborated with a range of partners in order to see projects to completion—in such project teams, landscape architects often play a coordinating role, and thus gain insight over the entirety of a process.
Brunkebergstorg is located on the Brunkeberg´s ridge, where the city’s grid structure meets and changes direction. The square has not the shape of a classic square, but more “a place that has become”. Under the square there is a parking garage. The aim with the restoration has therefor been to create a central meeting point in the city with a well thought- out design that combines the history of the square with the modern, expanding city. The increased number of human beings and movement across and along the place was an important aspect. In the surrounding area, a combination of a range of new activities have created new life in the square. Next to the eastern facade there is space for the restaurant’s outdoor seating. The design is inspired by the detail work on the façade of the city bank, with its soft moldings in stone. The furniture is composed by four large and softly rounded forms of terrazzo planted with trees, accompanied by circular furniture around the fountains which meets the strict floor-covering. The design meets the needs of formal and informal seating for all ages, shading trees, seasonal shifts, light and water and experiences in the form of carefully processed materials. All the materials we’ve used on the square are durable over time and provide an experience of elegance and solidity that, along with the chosen design language, correspond and contrast to the architecture in the surroundings, and adds a contemporary, playful and poetic atmosphere.
Norrtälje Harbour links the city of Norrtälje to the sea through the insertion of housing, commercial activities, and inviting and attractive public spaces. The proposal clarifies the city’s connection to seafaring, bathing, and fishing cultures, reinforcing Norrtälje’s identity as a key node within Stockholm’s archipelago. The design takes the archipelago landscape as its point of departure, aiming to reconnect Norrtälje with its history by emphasizing harbor and the rail line functions, as well as the city’s role as a seafaring, bathing, and resort destination. Roslagstorget’s entrance continues the archipelago theme through the use of modulated concrete that is cast on site and integrates rocky outcrops, reflecting ponds, and sculptural dwarf pines. The quayside is treated primarily with industrially patterned concrete (again, poured on site). Mobile furniture is attached to tracks, promoting flexible use. The square Bryggtorget is treated as a contiguous wooden deck. A large-scale relief pattern transects the square, leading visitors towards the water and bathing facilities. Behind the adjacent harbor sheds, housing, a hotel, and public premises are proposed. The park is inspired by the archipelago’s gravel and sand landscape, with its characteristic, stark vegetation. The undulating sand dunes invite sunbathing and other activities. Concrete edgework holds the sand in place, and in the water a series of small, floating islands are proposed.
Located in the municipality of Solna, Järvastaden is one of Stockholm’s many new urban neighborhoods. Spegeldammsparken was planned with the aim of creating a collective space capable of giving this new area a sense of identity. The park’s extensive, stylized design explores and plays with the relation between built elements and more unruly vegetation. Spegeldammsparken is conceived of as a classical city park, albeit of a new type. An undulating lawn, the core of the design, is transected by two strategic axes, resulting in a highly legible form. Where the gently rolling landscape meets these axes, sharp, wavelike incisions are produced, a design language that is also picked up in the fencing surrounding the park. A reflecting pond is located in the center which treat the integration of storm water into the park as well as demonstrate the biological processes behind it and gives the park an educational dimension. In the park there are three pavilions and long benches to provide the choice of relaxing in either shade or sun. The park also accommodates two playgrounds: one for infants, and one which provides a more protected, teenage “hang-out” space, set slightly apart from the play area. The site’s northern boundary provides space for car boot sales and vegetable markets, and the square that adjoins the park provides spaces for alfresco dining, interfacing with the park via a series of traditional perennial flower beds.
The project is the result of an artistic survey of Vasaplan in Umeå, which formed the basis for a comprehensive rebuilding of the site. The public was welcomed to use 400 custom-made stools for five days. While people passed the square, we were there to watch and participate. Our presence aroused curiosity and a willingness to discuss and contribute in the reformation of the space. Different events with the stools resolved each other; some planned by us and other spontaneously occurring – giving the citizens an opportunity to temporarily change the place. Through organic construction in a process governed by the impulses of the moment, it spurred creativity and reflection on the site and current urban development issues. We discovered, along with the bypassers, how events and physical additions change how we look at a place, and how citizens can contribute to the city’s development in ways we are not used to in traditional planning processes. The stool became a tool, a design solution, which deepened the understanding of the site and opened up for reflections on public spaces in transformation. The portable stool is designed by Nivå landscape architecture and Beatrice Hansson. It was made specifically for the Vasaplan project and manufactured locally in Umeå. The stool is 40x40x40cm and made of plywood. It serves as a building block where many stools can form large structures. A small U-steel locks the stools together, enabling high and stable constructions.
The Värtan ferry terminal play a part in the development of the new residential district in Norra Djurgårdsstaden, Stockholm. The lack of parks in the area was one of the reasons the roof of the terminal building was designed as a public park and will serve as a local node as well as a transit point. The terminal consists of three roof terraces close to the sea. A varied topography of greenery with stairs, ramps and cozy corners, invite passengers, staff and visitors for a stroll or relaxing moments, while enjoying the view of the ferries, the archipelago, and the city skyline. A restaurant on the top of the terminal function as a meeting point for visitors. The design of the roofs is inspired by the surrounding Stockholm archipelago, a vast and windy environment. The large scale and transparency of the space lay the foundation for the simple and uniform design that emanates from a central strolling path which is flanked of long cohesive spaces, coated with high waving grass types. Every terrace level has its own color-palette and is captured in the blooming components which create a characteristic space that varies throughout the seasons. The urban meadow and the mix of different plants and species are planned so that the vegetation will stabilize and sustain for a long period of time. The roof will, on the account of its unique environment, be a different type of park and a new landmark in the urban development – both architecturally, recreationally and environmentally.