Framing Varberg Reinterpreting urban development through place identity
Examensarbete för masterexamen
Architecture and planning beyond sustainability (MPDSD), MSc
This thesis investigates how urban development can be reinterpreted through place identity and genius loci, with a specific focus on the local context of Varberg and the transformation of the harbour. Varberg municipality is growing because of its attractive geographical location along the Swedish west-coast and assets like closeness to the ocean, bath culture and the small-town feeling. To encounter the population growth the municipally initiated development project Västerport will extend the town to the water and make the private harbour an urban place. It is significant that the place identity of the site is protected, as a risk is that a place in transformation loses its connection to its past and memory to instead become a blank slate where a waterfront polished area can be built. The aim of this thesis is to explore the local identity of the harbour and Varberg to form a suggestion for a transformation that includes the sense of place in its future vision. By bringing up the discourse on universalized architecture and place identity this thesis links the investigation of a local context to contemporary architecture, as well as the synergies between the architectural field and who we design buildings for. Through a study of the past, present and future of Varberg genius loci perspectives guide the methodology of place analysis and the design exploration. By iterative processes the theory, design and place investigation has been ongoing simultaneously to let the research of all parts inform each other. Through the interpretation of the harbour and Varberg’s identities, the process has merged the qualities found and used it for transmitting the sense of place, without copy-pasting and romanticising the past. The thesis results in both a genius loci analysis of Varberg and a design proposal of an urban masterplan of Västerport phase 2. To give a depth in the different dimensions of place the design of the street, volumetric form, urban spaces and building’s exterior have been explored and presented.
place identity, genius loci, Varberg, urban transformation