No tree is more characteristic of Scania, Sweden’s southernmost province, than the beech—and no other species bears such a strong association with its native region. The horizontal branch structure that supports its canopy, paired with the equally horizontal orientation of its leaves, produces a quality that is almost architectural.
The competition entry for the new Hyllie Plaza (Hyllie Torg), located in a southern district of Malmö, bore the motto Fagus, the scientific name for beech. The idea driving the design was to establish a beech forest on the plaza, or better stated, to form the plaza as a beech forest. However, the beech does not thrive in the conditions provided by the site and to insure the survival of the trees would require help. In response, significant biological research began, an effort that included the contributions of a team of experts trying to find a high-tech solution for ensuring the life of the beech grove. The first necessity was a gigantic planting bed whose dimensions equalled those of the plaza above it. This earthen layer consisted of an 80-cm-thick base of structural soil, of which voids comprise 60 percent to guarantee sufficient oxygen. This planting bed was capped with Swedish high-density granite paving totalling 12,000 square meters in area. Into this granite field, twelve parallel trenches were cut, each planted with lines of beech trees. By their placement on the plaza, the trees form a series of glades.
To provide night-time illumination, eleven tall masts were grouped as pairs along the sides of the plaza. Between these masts stretch 1,800 meters of steel cables arranged in a certain order that suggests a spider’s web. The cables support a field of 2,800 LED diodes programmed to conjure four seasonal scenarios that create a digital sky after dark.
Hyllie Plaza, Malmö, Sweden
Landscape architect: Thorbjörn Andersson @ Sweco Architects
Design team: Johan Krikström, Marianne Randers, PeGe Hillinge, Niklas Ödmann (lighting), Örjan Stål (soil construction)
Area: 14,000 square meters
P.O. Box 17920
SE- 118 95 Stockholm, Sweden
Telephone +46 8 522 952 00
For further information contact
Thorbjörn Andersson, Sweco Architects