Design practice White Arkitekter has created a 65 meter-long ‘sofa’ for Forumtorget Square in Uppsala, Sweden. Designed to provide space for rest and social interaction, the linear outdoor seating is the centerpiece of wider improvements to the large square. The project aims to attract more visitors to Forumtorget and its surrounding shopping area by building on the area’s character as a gathering place.
Uppsala is the fourth largest city in Sweden, with a population of 150,000 people. As the design team states, the Forumtorget project is the result of a seven-year development process following White’s successful entry in a 2011 design competition organised by Uppsala Municipality. The project consists of three elements: a continuous multilevel sofa, dark granite paving, and a circular plateau for sitting, playing and informal performances. Together, the elements were made to create a new identity for the square and reinforce East-West connections through the city.
Built using a grey glass/quartz composite, the design of the sofa itself features armrests, railings and sockets made of brass, and is double-sided with a variety of seating types provided at different levels. This allows the new seating to bridge different ground levels within the square and provide an interstitial space between the open square and the shops. Made to meet a range of inclusive and privacy needs, the design features ergonomic and seat height options include a reclining bench, a deep platform and a step-up sofa along its continuous form.
“The sofa is a more homely and welcoming version of traditional outdoor furniture that bolsters a sense of community by creating increased opportunities for social interaction at Forumtorget. The result is an enhanced public realm that revitalizes the center of Uppsala,” said Gustav Jarlöv of White Arkitekter.
White’s Dsearch research network used computational design tools to extensively prototype and realize the design concept. This was achieved using water-jet cutters to create 3500 individually contoured, 19mm bench sections of glass-quartz composite. Assembled in segments onto a steel substructure off-site, these were then bolted together in situ and mounted on the concrete foundations. At night, the sofa is illuminated from within through frosted glass insets that give a warm glow. Various effects are achieved with the use of several different lighting schemes, including one inspired by the Northern Lights.