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How Umeå Campus Park is Closing the Gap Between Work and Nature

A Fireplace for children

Umeå Campus Park, by Thorbjörn Andersson with Sweco architects, Umeå, Sweden. Umeå Campus is the focal center of Umeå University in Sweden. The majority of the university’s courses and programs are held in the buildings and facilities of this 23,000-square-meter campus near the coast, approximately 300 kilometers south of the Polar Circle. Umeå University was founded in 1965 and is Sweden’s fifth-oldest university. The campus has about 35,000 international and multicultural students, teachers, and researchers from all over the world.

Umeå-Campus-Park

Umeå Campus Park. Photo courtesy of Thorbjörn Andersson

The Design Team  The architects of this project were Thorbjörn Andersson and Sweco Architects (design team: Staffan Sundström, Emma Pettersson, and Mikael Johansson). The design is oriented toward a sustainable society where the people can interact, work, and play; in other words, a society that can combine and live in many atmospheres in a very harmonic way. These two firms are also the authors of many other landscape projects, including the Physic Garden at Novartis’ Campus in Basel, Switzerland and the Hyllie Plaza at Malmö, Sweden.
Hyllie Plaza.

Hyllie Plaza. Photo credit: Åke Eson

Umeå Campus Park

This project is the result of a competition held in 2007; it was completed in 2011. The new Umeå Campus Park takes place around an artificial lake, with sun decks, jetties, open lawns, walking trails, and terraces. Here, visitors and students can be part of the landscape, a natural space molded by the architects; the hills and the birch trees create a unique atmosphere that’s rarely common but yet very well designed.

Umeå Campus Park.

Umeå Campus Park. Photo credit: Åke Eson

What we expect from such a space? As a campus park “should” offer a variety of designated places, in this case the architects proposed the same variety of places in the outdoor scene, designated to provide non-conventional academic classrooms that support improvised activities and informal gatherings, but at the same time create a unique interaction among students, teachers, and researchers, enhancing the attractiveness of the university as a whole.
Umeå Campus Park

Umeå Campus Park. Photo courtesy of Thorbjörn Andersson

Connecting the Dots and Finding the Balance Between Formal and Informal The Umeå Campus Park takes place in a very formal background, the idea of transforming it into a more indulging area is very well accomplished in this project, it’s not only a connecting area that leads the users from one building to another, it is also a livable place, a combination of formal and informal.
Umeå Campus Park.

Umeå Campus Park. Photo courtesy of Thorbjörn Andersson

The Campus The Campus Park is made up of three terraces that connect the park and the lake with floating piers. The paths — or promenades — are projected around the lake, with very subtle and clean lines and a few connections with the buildings, leaving free spaces that provide users with comfortable and quiet spaces to interact. To the naked eye, the project seems to be a very “minimalistic design”: Every path is very well thought and connected to the next and every area has its own character, from floating decks to small hills.
Umeå Campus Park.

Umeå Campus Park. Photo credit: Åke Eson

Connecting Points of Social Interest The promenades lead users to points of social interest. These spots became wider and even more intimate as people walk by. The main artery of the park is named “The Corso”. It connects the main restaurant, “Universum”, with the student union. The Corso is connected to the lake by a bridge over the canyon-like affluent. In this area, visitors can find a unique, almost exotic atmosphere right in the northern city of Umeå, a shaded and narrow area with a dense atmosphere along a trickling brook, surrounded by thick vegetation.
Umeå Campus Park.

Umeå Campus Park. Photo courtesy of Thorbjörn Andersson

An outdoor lounge is laid out facing the sun in front of the lively student union. This lounge is the fusion of a series of graveled terraces in a fan shape, with each terrace equipped with café furnishings and shaded by multi-stemmed trees. More Great Articles Featuring Work from Thorbjorn Andersson:

There are no excuses to not bring nature into our common life, like the architects vision, our environment should be as natural as possible; “Natural” not only in the ambient way, but “Natural” also in the way users can feel comfortable, every activity or labor should work without efforts and every path or area should provide people a reason to stay a little bit longer. When I refer to “nature” I do not only mean green spaces, I also refer to clean, stylish and elegant places where we can feel free.

Umeå Campus Park.

Umeå Campus Park. Photo courtesy of Thorbjörn Andersson

Design is Closing the Gap Between Work and Nature Studying this project, we realized that consciousness about caring for the space we are living in is getting stronger. The connection between work and nature is less distant every day; A small relaxing space, can give us a whole new perception of a place and what we do with it. As we can see, this example of this campus park, can turn into a guideline for the new outdoor areas of every building, a church, a hospital, even a law firm centre can have an unique space like this for gathering with clients or even meditate; There’s no limit when it comes to bringing back our origins, our safe zone, where we can feel comfortable and free.
Umeå Campus Park.

Umeå Campus Park. Photo courtesy of Thorbjörn Andersson

Full Project Credits: Project: University Campus Park Umeå Location: Umeå, Sweden Architects: Thorbjörn Andersson + Sweco Architects Design Team: Staffan Sundström, Emma Pettersson, Mikael Johansson Client: Akademiska Hus Consultants: Black light design Area: 23,000 sqm Year: 2011 Show on Google Maps Recommended Reading:

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