Trondheim enhances city life and identity with a NOK 300 million investment
A 17-year transformation project of Trondheim's most important urban space is complete. The central square has been transformed from a busy crossroads into a characterful meeting place with impressive surfaces, art and sheltered hang-out zones which enhance city life with comfort, shopping and experiences.
Robust stone buildings tell stories that began in the Viking Age and extend into the lives of future generations. They are a testament to the city’s solidity, pride and strong identity. And in the middle of Trondheim lies the heart of the city, the vibrant hub of the central square.
Since 2003, the municipality has devoted itself to finding a solution as to how Torvet, the city centre square, could be transformed from a busy crossroads into a pedestrian area for both everyday life and major celebrations. A grand and open town square which can accommodate the crowds of people on Constitution Day, just as well as those intimate everyday moments.
In 2015, landscape architect Trond Heggem at Agraff was engaged by the municipality's project manager Marit Solum to carry out a revised feasibility project and detailed design project.
Trond accepted the role of landscape architect with great honour, knowing that the job would require a balancing act between public and private interests, historical guidelines, art and architecture, trade and capital and an agenda to be met.
‘This is a place that means a lot to many people. There will be a lot of different opinions and desires. Not everyone will be able to get their own way entirely. What’s important is to have a strong idea at the outset and to stick to it throughout the project’, replied Trond, when asked what the critical factors would be.
The open square should be cosier and more intimate, with lots of public seating areas which invite you to stay a while. Pleasant spots where people can relax in the sun as life unfolds around them.
In the new square, lots of seating has been placed in the sunniest and most sheltered spots. Altogether, there are up to 1,000 public seats in a wide variety of designs, giving everyone the opportunity to take part in the social life of the square. Long tables where several people can sit together, and chairs arranged around small tables offer plenty of choice, while the benches may appeal to younger generations.
Twenty five large granite benches provide plenty of space for larger groups. With a simple and repetitive form, they contribute to a sense of calm in the bigger picture. To make them comfortable in cold weather, they have recessed wooden seating surfaces from Vestre.
A separate furniture collection would give the project an extra edge, but...
The aim was originally to create a separate furniture collection for the square. “Customising the furniture would have added a personal touch to the project”, says Trond. “But we found the elements we were looking for in the April collection, which includes a wide range of seating for all ages and moods.”
“You always want to design the furniture yourself. But it’s also great to let those who know a trade do their job. The fact that the bench was made by Vestre instead of being carved from wood is very good for its durability, and makes it easier for the municipality to get replacement parts if something breaks.”
The April collection is low-key, functional and lets other elements take centre stage
Trond explains that the April collection had been in the back of his mind the whole time. ‘It’s a nice and simple collection with traditional design, and is functional and comfortable without being too showy. In the square, the furniture should be low-key and fulfil its function, while other elements are the centre of attention.’
‘When you see how people use the furniture, it’s easy to agree that proper furniture should also be used in public projects’, Trond concludes, regarding the choice of furnishings between the granite elements.
Good cooperation was the solid foundation for a successful project
The square and seating use robust and solid materials throughout which stand the test of time, and all furniture has been chosen with the next 100 years in mind. The square will benefit generations of people to come and was completed in summer 2020, thanks to good leadership, cooperation and delivery skills.
‘Good projects are delivered through strong cooperation. Commitment and cooperation. In an increasingly divided world, the will of the project is becoming more and more important. Everyone must want the same goal; everyone must fight for the same goal. Everyone must want to do a good job. That's what we have accomplished here’, says Trond.
Because there are always people in the square. Around the clock. It’s a lively meeting place, where you feel a strong sense of belonging, a place where the past clearly leaves its mark on the moments that will shape the future. There is diversity here, with space for everything, both big and small, for everyday life and for celebrations.
Winner of the Norwegian Association of Landscape Architects’ 2020 prize
A jury consisting of some of the country's leading experts described the result as ‘tight and neat, with an almost gentle use of materials, even though hard stone with historical and traditional elements is used in the urban space’s floor. The furnishings and greenery invite human activity and well-being in an open space’.
In her acceptance speech, project manager and landscape architect Marit Solum concluded that in Trondheim municipality, ‘we have, together with the brightest landscape architects at Agraff, poured our hearts and souls into giving Norway's best city the great community space it deserves. After 17 years of planning, everyone has finally had their say, the square is finished, and the crowds show that we have succeeded.’
Authority/developer: Trondheim kommune, Kommunalteknikk c/o Marit Solum MNLA
Year of construction/completion: 2020 Project period: 2015–2020 Area/size: Ca. 16,000 m2 Cost excluding VAT: Approx. NOK 200 million contract cost
Project manager: Agraff arkitektur AS and Multiconsult AS Lead landscape architect: Agraff arkitektur AS c/o Trond Heggem MNLA Advisers/consultants: Multiconsult AS (technical), Pir 2 AS (architect), Light Bureau (lighting design)
Contractor: Søbstad AS
Landscaping: Søbstad AS Sub-contractors: Sønnico, K.Lund, Johnsen Controls Artists: Edith Lundebrekke (surface patterns), ten stonemasons from around the world (sculptures in the granite furniture)