Hjälmarviksparken is a new neighborhood park located in the city of Örebro. The idea for the new park was based on enhancing the existing landscape and adding a variety of experiences, functions and content. The starting point was to work with a “natural park”, which is clearly designed, but still reminds us of nature in form, materials and detail.
The park design is based on a series of room concepts, all of which have different natural character, scale and experience values. These landscape spaces, such as the cottage forest, the forest villages, the meadow hills and the sensory garden, have then been woven together into a natural park landscape. The idea of working completely nature-based also results in an environment that is both more experience-dense and significantly richer in ecosystem services than a more traditional playground or park environment.
The design of the park also integrated the development work with the parallel research project Play Biotope (Lekotop) – natural environments that offer both play values and ecosystem services, where the focus is the meeting between play and landscape. The goal is to shift the focus from the play equipment to the entire play environment and create conditions for many different kinds of play. With the concept of Lekotop, we investigate how urban ecosystem services and places for play can coexist, how they can be planned and designed.
In Hjälmarviksparken, the target image for the newly created environments is closer to “nature” than “park”. Although the plant concept is based on offering rich and sensual experiences, it is not a tidy or arranged environment that is sought. It is a park environment that has a designed basic structure, but where the content and details are allowed to change over time.
The operational aspect has been an important part of the design. One way to increase the public’s acceptance of slightly wilder natural environments is to give them a clearly defined framework that shows that they are taken care of (=”cues to care”). A low fence, solid borders, artistic embellishments or rich flowering plantings can help to find a kind of balance between the wild and the orderly. Hjälmarviksparken’s design explores this.
The play-biotope (lekotop) represent a different target image than the more common, more standardized playgrounds where the focus is mainly on purchased playground equipment – this meant a need for changed working methods. The process for the development of Hjälmarviksparken differs from the usual process in that many decisive decisions were taken in the construction phase itself and that no construction documents were drawn up for the project. Urbio produced design documents which were used as a basis, but many design decisions were made on the spot. This meant that many site adaptations for conservation, or the possibility of incorporating recycled materials, were much more flexible than a more traditional construction procedure with strict building documents.
Large-scale re-use within the project was possible thanks to internal planning within the municipality. Large boulders and earth masses from ongoing construction work could be used in the park to create a more varied topography and spatial structure. In total, it took approximately 800 truck loads to build up the new topography in Hjälmarviksparken. Not buying soil was an important decision to make the finances of the project go together with the ambition of building a new play and recreation landscape on the former flat field.
An existing straight ditch ran through the project area and this was re-dug to become more meandering and collect the water into a shallow pond. Masses from re-digging the ditch and dam were also reused on site.
Rows of logs and boulders built up the planting areas where fill material was placed on top of existing terrain. The logs, like the boulders, also came from the municipality’s own nature conservation or from other ongoing construction projects where these materials would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
The planting areas were laid out with several layers. Rich flowering cover crops were sown on the newly planted plant beds. The flower display gives great beauty value in the first years when bushes and trees are still small. In this way, the landscape looks more “finished”, even though it actually takes several years before the newly planted trees and bushes can fill their place. Another advantage of the cover crop is that fewer weed seeds can establish themselves in the plant beds. An observation from the use of cover crops in the park is that it also appears to have a protective effect on the run by diverting or slowing down movement within the plantings. Smaller plant qualities were chosen for the park for faster establishment, but also to reduce transport. The plantings are allowed to change over time and are not static.
The project is a result of an on-site design process with a big team: Gustav Älgå and Mimmi Beckman, Municipality of Örebro. Peter Korn, Klinta trädgård. Johan Sandström, Vallkloven. Bygglag och Trädgårdsteknik.
Location: Notstugegatan 7, 702 87 Örebro, Sweden
Design year: 2021
Year Completed: 2022