Vivalla, Örebro

Vivalla, Örebro

Vivalla is a neighbourhood just on the outskirts of central Örebro. Built in the late 60s, this neighbourhood was undoubtedly a loner – as large in its own right as a small Swedish town but without any of a town’s variety or features and cut off from the rest of Örebro. We’ve worked on the regeneration of Vivalla since 2009. Our targeted efforts together with the company Örebrobostäder have garnered clear results.

Just over a decade ago, White was tasked with paving the way for a general plan for Vivalla that would facilitate a socially, architecturally, and economically holistic approach. From a technical standpoint, the buildings had served their time and Örebrobostäder was facing costly renovations. The time had come to take a holistic view of things and plan for the regeneration of this neighbourhood in a way that would address the major issues of social and economic exclusion. Every little renovation initiative had to be seen as part of the wider whole in order to create a more pleasant neighbourhood where residents felt comfortable spending time.

Getting to and from Vivalla by bike or on foot was seen as unsafe and under-prioritised. As the crow flies, central Örebro isn’t that far away, but the neighbourhood was almost cut off by a motorway with inaccessible slivers of greenery and a shopping area whose back faced Vivalla.

Kund: Örebrobostäder
Projektstart: 2009
Foto: Magnus Wahman, Nadja Odenhage

In order to break up the large-scale form of the site, our main move was to work with the public spaces.

By moving the entrances of selected buildings from the long eastern flank to the western flank, we created entrance spaces where neighbours can meet. In strategic places, buildings were demolished to make way for large, green residential streets. Although the neighbourhood had many walkways and green spaces, they were unsafe and not clearly laid out. By demarcating public and semi-private spaces more clearly, we facilitated the social “territories” that people need for their sense of identity, community, and security.

Vivalla was almost unique in its homogeneity for such a large area. Small scale in terms of building height, but large scale in terms of the sheer number of identical buildings. Namely, straight slab blocks and terraced houses. The town of Vivalla needed other forms of tenancy and residential environments with more varied architecture.
Anders Ejdeholt, Lead Architect

The illegal driving of cars on cycle paths was commonplace – no wonder when designated parking areas were several hundred metres from home (a long way when carrying heavy bags of shopping) and car break-ins were rife. That’s why we created clear street spaces so that residents can park close to home and keep an eye on their car. And if I’m not home, my neighbour can keep an eye out for me. The new north-south streets also provide new ways of getting around, invite people to explore the surrounding streets, and connect with surrounding neighbourhoods.

The results didn’t take long to show. Of the 720 break-ins and incidents reported in 2018-19, just six happened in the part of Vivalla that we’ve developed.

We’re doing something very right here. When an area is freshened up, residents take greater responsibility – no one will come and destroy that for them.
Peter Hovlund, District Manager at Örebrobostäder

Hjärtaskogen neighbourhood

The objective of the first stage of regeneration was to create features unique to the neighbourhood and introduce new forms of tenancy to attract new customer groups in order to have a population structure more like the municipality as a whole. Örebrobostäder demonstrated a real willingness to change, but in a way that respects existing qualities such as low-scale, car-free walkways and characteristic red-brick facades.

We’re very happy with the architecture we’ve managed to achieve in the Hjärstaskogen neighbourhood, despite the tight finances. Some windows were filled in for energy-saving purposes. We took this opportunity to create more varied facades. Secondly, instead of placing ventilation units on the roof, we gave some of the houses sloped roofs to create more archetypal “real” house shapes, with ventilation units combined together in what look like chimneys.

“What I’m most pleased with so far is that we’ve laid the foundation for Vivalla to evolve together with the surrounding city going forwards. Many people have called this area home for many years, which is why this regeneration has been done respectfully. The residents of Vivalla should feel that they’re getting something in return for their increased rents.
Anders Ejdeholt, Lead Architect

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