Team Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects and STED wins competition for Jönköping's urban development

Recreation and access to the water has long been limited in the Swedish city of Jönköping, and in 2023 the municipality launched an international architectural competition to develop the city center. The competition has now been decided and the winning proposal was 'Vattenstaden' by a Danish-Swedish architectural team led by Vilhelm Lauritzen Arkitekter and STED.

Although Jönköping is located on Sweden's second largest lake, Vättern, access to the water has long been limited for the city's 100,000 inhabitants. The city's harbor and canal bear the marks of an industrial era, which partially hinders access to the water and recreational use.

Now, an international architectural competition 'Hamnpiren' has been decided and the winner is the Danish-Swedish proposal 'Vattenstaden', which revitalizes the connection between city and water, with direct access to the smaller lake Munksjön in addition to Vättern. The proposal rethinks the urban areas around the harbor pier and the quay line towards the lake and at the same time provides concrete proposals for new recreational areas with a focus on movement, community life, diversity and nature.

Behind the proposal is a team of Danish Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects and STED together with Swedish BEEK Arkitekter, strategic advisors Hallemar Hejdelind and Göran Cars, professor and researcher in urban planning and infrastructure.


From industrial shadow to dynamic water community

The winning proposal rethinks Jönköping's relationship with the water and shows how an interdisciplinary architectural collaboration can anchor new architecture locally in realistic and realizable solutions. The team has focused on reusing many existing features and proposes a raised harbor course over the water on ecological wooden piles so as not to shade or disturb the animal and plant life in Lake Vättern. Materials will include recycled sinusoidal corrugated sheets for the roof and lightweight timber structures that allow for flexibility over time. Solar panels will also be incorporated on the roofs. Finally, a consistent planting strategy in the urban plan will create a dynamic and biodiverse landscape both on land and in the lake.

Throughout the proposal are new inclusive seating areas and facilities to create humanistic urban spaces for people. Winter swimmers will have new facilities, rowing club members will be able to practice their water sports and attract new members, and there will be green recreational areas along Vattenboulevarden (the canal), where works of art will also be installed.

"The winning proposal fascinated the jury by developing the pier in an innovative way while preserving the pier arms and challenging the idea of what a pier can be. With careful and functional design, they have created a flexible meeting place with a focus on community, education and seafaring in all its forms"

- Excerpt from the jury's report

"Our vision is that Jönköping will be the city of the future for people. That the city centre becomes a recreational place where everyone can live, meet and create social relationships. A place that is not just about cafés, commerce and consumption, but about equal access to water, culture and experiences for everyone. And it all needs to be locally anchored so that the proposal is meaningful to the people of Jönköping," says Jeppe Dueholm, Partner at Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.

The winning proposal was selected from a total of 38 applicants, of which three were pre-qualified to move forward in the competition. It now forms the basis for further work towards the local plan, and a staged process is now underway to ensure anchoring in the local area.

Find more information on Jönköping Municipality's website here 

Vattenstaden Jonköping

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