A 65 meter-long public ‘sofa’ designed by White Arkitekter has now become a cynosure in the Uppsala’s Forumtorget square. Uppsala is the fourth-largest city in Sweden, after Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm. This eye-catching linear outdoor seating is created to provide space for rest and social interaction. The prime aim of this project is to attract more visitors to Forumtorget and its nearby shopping places.
According to the design team, the project design is the result of seven-year development process after White’s successful entry in a design contest held in 2011 by Uppsala Municipality. The unusual design showcases not only White’s comprehensive, people-centric approach to design but also the firm’s commitment to providing top quality public realm.
Gustav Jarlöv of White Arkitekter said, “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 revitalises the centre of Uppsala.”
The three elements were the basis of this design: dark granite paving, a continuous multilevel sofa and a circular plateau with smooth and terrazzo polished deep green for playing, sitting and informal performances. These elements altogether create a stable and attractive new identity for the square and strengthen East-West connections through the city.
The sofa is constructed by using grey glass/ quartz composite and has sturdy yet refined detailings such as railings, armrests, sockets made of brass. Also, the sofa is double-sided with a multitude of seating dimensions at different levels. This allows the couch to bridge the different ground levels within the area by offering an interstitial space between the open City Square and the shops. The silhouette is animated with a variety of brass handrails and backrest styles. The sofa also features two small set of staircases to give access from one side to the other.
The distinctive feature of this sofa is that it illuminates from within through frosted glass insets during the night. The unusual design concept also incorporates the use of water-jet cutters to create 3500 individually contoured, 19mm bench sections. The sofa’s soft yet delicate lines ripple up and down in non-repeating patterns that give a hint of retro Scandinavian design. The sofa includes plenty of variety along with ergonomic spaces for reclining and sitting.
The seating types of this sofa were tested in Forumtorget Square using a 1:1 model before constructions started. All the segments were assembled onto a steel substructure off-site, and then these were fastened together with bolts and mounted on the concrete foundations. The use of robust materials in the creation ensures the longevity of the structure. According to the team, the structure has a lifespan of at least 30 years.