Exploring the world's built environments and seeking sustainable solutions.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kungsträdgården: The Versatility of a Community Green Space


By, Victoria Brinkerhoff and Elizabeth Kelley

It was a Wednesday night at 9:30 pm when we strolled through Kungsträdgården (The King’s Garden) towards the very American, yet extremely crowded and popular, TGI Friday’s restaurant. Walking from South to North, we observed that the centrally located garden consists of three sections that each serve a different function, especially in the evening. The first area presents a fountain and sections for people to congregate, the second is a hub of lively entertainment, and the third is a relaxed lounging spot (mainly for lovers) on the outskirts of a fountain drained when the sun sets. We observed the latter two areas in detail and came to understand the immense versatility of the community green space, which is one of the ways Stockholm promotes a denser lifestyle through combining relief from purely cobble stone roads and traffic with nature and entertainment.

An overview of the area in front the garden's stage 

Within the section of The King’s Garden that serves as a center for entertainment, the main point of attraction is the concert stage placed in front of benches and a tiled dance floor. The public is able to escape the garden’s surrounding commerce and enter an area of the green space strategically planned for their entertainment. To the left of the stage when viewing it from the front is a series of tents holding tables and benches, a bar to get beer, and another dance floor and more live entertainment - today the band belted “Sweet Home Alabama.” The tent alters the green space so that the public can enjoy entertainment and be physically sectioned off from the surrounding cafes and large concert stage, all while having easy access to a lower key setting equipt with nature when they wish.

The permanent stage and benches in the garden

The tent and dancing area 

            When we continued to walk across the garden, the function of the space transitioned into a location for sprawled relaxation on benches and children to run and play; yet, the public still orients themselves around the water feature that loses visual appeal when it is drained at night. People still rest on the benches around the water feature the most, rather than benches on outskirts of the feature’s perimeter. However, while relaxing and socializing, the public is still able to observe the large flower centerpieces lining the edges of the water feature. The centerpieces bring natural elements into the section of the garden that is more dominated by concrete than the others.  

A little girl running through the drained water feature

The people which inhabited Kungsträdgården that night come just as diverse as the activities which occur within the space. At any moment in the evening there were kids playing around the flower pots in the plaza, as adults chatted around the cafes, and couples cuddled on benches. Every type of person is accommodated in some way within the plaza, providing an outlet from the blocks upon blocks of the city center. The large range of people who use the plaza is a key factor to the plaza's popularity, from couples to families, and kids to elderly, both young and old alike come together to inhabit the space. The versatility of activities allows for the vast spectrum of park dwellers which without, this urban green space would not be able to live to its full sustainable potential.

Lovers relax on a bench aside the water feature 

The King's Garden is able to function as a sustainable urban green space through its array of diverse features. As we walked to the plaza that evening, the space visually blended well with the city of Stockholm, making it a treasured gem, rather than an awkward sustainable addition. The plaza is also built for durability, with details including fake grass in the concert area to accommodate the high volumes of foot traffic during entertainment venues. Trees planted throughout the cobblestone pathways help the percolation of rainwater from the cobblestone pathway during rainy season, as well as adding interest to the plaza’s walking area. The garden supports a high density lifestyle by providing urban relief from the city center through Kungsträdgården. This is done by promoting walking and access to fresh air and nature for residents, making the dense Stockholm lifestyle into a pleasant experience.

There is no one, key factor that makes Kungsträdgården the success which it has become in Stockholm, but rather a combination which creates great versatility within the plaza. The King’s Garden is a success due to its strategic central location, its versatility in activities and ability to accommodate all types of people, combined with its sustainable details. Though dense living supports a sustainable lifestyle, density in an urban core can come with its drawbacks, such as less private outdoor space and minimal living space. Therefore green spaces such as Kungsträdgården give residents a large open area which can act in place of a yard and provide community green space to enhance city living.  Kungsträdgårde exemplifies the opportunities and benefits urban green space can unleash.

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