Sweden's first free zone for young girls

2016-11-21 08:00

“Tyréns has designed a meeting place where young girls take their place in the public sphere”

Tyréns, on behalf of the Municipality of Umeå, has designed and given character to a meeting place for young girls. Frizon, as the project is called, is one of Sweden's first public outdoor spaces that is totally focused on young girls' need to take their place in the public sphere. Among other things, Tyréns was responsible for services within the fields of landscape architecture and lighting configuration. Following a dialogue with young girls in the municipality, the company developed ideas and shaped a gender neutral and inviting place for meetings and conversation. The aim was to create a place free from expectations, fears and insecurities where everybody will feel welcome.

In the beginning of November, “Frizon – a gender neutral meeting place” was opened in Årstidernas Park, in Umeå. Tyréns assignment was to design the new, unique meeting place. The work included services in landscape architecture, design, and the lighting configuration. The aim of the design was to create a place where young girls can feel secure and be free from expectations and observation. The configuration and layout of the place emerged from a dialogue with young girls and it was conducted in close collaboration with the artist Kerstin Bergendal and the Municipality of Umeå.

“The dialogue with the young girls was fundamental for this process,” says Carl Arnö, Contract Manager, Landscape Architect at Tyréns in Umeå. “We held a workshop in January, with girls in secondary school and high school age, on-location in the park. Where we wanted the girls to tell us what a meeting place meant to them. Among other things, the girls were asked to paint in snow to express and develop their concepts. Central concepts during the process were “security” and a place “free from expectations” and these were some of the concepts that formed the basis for our continuing efforts.”

Årstidernas Park is a central park in Umeå, where many young people are moving about and passing through. The place is designed with an oval roof with windows in various colours. In the free zone, there are basket seats that were inspired by the gondolas on the 'Whirlwind' roundabout. Apart from creating a place that is secure, light and inviting, there were wishes for it to be possible to connect the phone and play music from it, which has now become reality.

“Apart from specific wishes, for example, the option to stream music, we have constantly had security in our thoughts,” Carl Arnö says. “We have planned and retested our arguments against the needs and wishes of the target group several times over, which has been very important. We cannot create environments that are only secure and open to half the population. One simple thing, for example, is to adapt the environment and seating places so they suit girls physically. At Tyréns, we are honoured to work with this type of project, where we can help to make the gender issues more obvious in the physical planning, which is not the case today.”

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