Five questions to landscape architect Sara Schlyter

Sara Schlyter is a landscape architect at FOJAB and is passionate about public space and the importance of greenery. We took the opportunity to ask Sara five questions. Among other things, how landscape architects can contribute to a good outdoor environment in connection with densification.

What is the hottest issue for you right now?
It is difficult! The landscape is everything - it is city and nature and the interaction between them. Landscape architecture is very much about wholeness and relationships between different elements. On the large scale and the small scale....

Urban densification is on everyone's lips and construction is taking place like never before. How can landscape architects contribute to a good outdoor environment in connection with densification?
Landscape architects create quality in the outdoor environments of the dense city. The denser the city, the higher the demands on the design of the spaces in between, and more functions must be combined in the same areas. The denser the city, the more important greenery is from several aspects. It manages stormwater and balances the city's microclimate, creates a human scale, an attractive cityscape and opportunities for recreation. The city should also be a social arena, where there should be space and opportunities for everyone, not least for children.

Many of these values are difficult to measure, and we are unfortunately seeing the effects of this in many newly planned areas around the country, from flooding issues to microscopic preschool playgrounds. Density comes at a price. We need to find new ways of counting. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the municipalities to monitor and pursue these issues, but we also need to be better at spreading knowledge about the city as a whole to everyone involved in building society.

Flexibility and multifunctionality become key words when we landscape architects work with individual places in the city. Examples include playgrounds that are combined with floodplains and create opportunities for water play, the parking lot is a ball field at certain times of the day, biofilters are combined with comfortable green seating and rooftop parks. We see the increased need to address climate change and the environment as an asset and believe that making natural processes visible adds value to the urban environment.

You are particularly passionate about public space, in what way is it important and what do you think it will mean in the future?
Public space in the city - squares, streets and parks - is a big part of a city's identity and soul. It is where we move and stay, where we walk and meet friends. Caring for public space reflects a city or community's care for its inhabitants.

Interestingly, public space is used to put a new area on the map. Then parks or places are established before the buildings take shape. This has been done, for example, in Carlsberg in Copenhagen and also the Jubilee Park in Frihamnen in Gothenburg. This shows the importance of public space for the attractiveness and branding of a city or district.

There is no doubt that people feel better when they spend time in natural environments - shouldn't more effort be put into this?
Absolutely! Proximity and access to nature or green spaces has a major impact on both health and quality of life. There is research that proves this. The problem may be that it is a socio-economic investment where the return does not end up in the wallet of the person paying for it.

Fortunately, it seems that awareness of this is increasing, both among developers and end consumers, i.e. home buyers. There is currently a demand for both nature-based housing and perhaps even more urban housing that can offer proximity to greenery and even opportunities for cultivation in the dense city.

Finally, what project are you currently working on?
Right now I'm working with Kolkajen in Norra Djurgårdsstaden in Stockholm, where we are doing system documentation for a large playground right on the water. I am also working on a concept to renew the pedestrian streets in Landskrona with greenery and living environments. I am also working on several exciting office and housing projects and a new football stadium in central Uppsala, Studenternas. It's great fun with that variety and breadth!