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Till stadsbornas nytta och förlustande: Den offentliga parken i Sverige under 1800-talet
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of the History of Art.
1999 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to study the public parks in Sweden during the nineteenth century. It focuses on three general factors – decision process, design, and function – and is to a great extent based on previously unstudied material including town councils' minutes, drawings, and other contemporary sources. The dissertation considers a selection of the approximately one hundred public parks laid out in Sweden during the period.

From the beginning of the century the middle classes endeavoured to create meeting places and social customs of their own, and public parks had a role to play in their efforts. There, families could spend their leisure time together, meeting acquaintances and amusing themselves. The park was also an aesthetic element in the townscape. The study shows that the first public parks appeared in the 1820s, and that they were established several decades earlier than is generally acknowledged. During the decades following 1860, a large number of new parks were made. From now on, moral considerations began being put forward as grounds for creating public parks. They were promoted as more suitable social settings than the streets, squares, and pubs – for the middle classes as well as for the workers. In the 1890s, new parks were made whose design and function differed distinctly from their predecessors. They were planned for active use to a much greater extent, with features such as games and sport, and all surfaces open to the public. The study also shows that town councils from the beginning of the century were involved in creating the parks, and generally assumed full economic responsibility.

Concerning the design, the parks changed during the century. From the initial decades, the essential design assumption was that parks would be perceived as art rather than nature. It should be obvious that the trees, bushes, and flowers did not grow natural on the spot, an impression emphasised by their varied colours, shapes, and ways of growing. Exotic plants were used extensively. From around 1870 the attempt to imitate nature as closely as possible, often using an existing natural area as a starting point and employing indigenous plants, gradually became common.

Previous studies have often pointed to the public parks' role in improving the hygiene in the towns, locating them within an overall town planning perspective. However, the study shows that the belief that they might also improve the moral and general living conditions of urban dwellers has been an even more important factor. The park was envisaged as a place of education and general cultivation, but also as a place for amusement, which was reflected in the bandstands, monuments, and playgrounds, etc. Though the parks were often smaller than their counterparts abroad, Sweden was in step with the rest of Europe.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Byggförlaget , 1999. , 393 p.
Keyword [en]
public parks, garden history, garden design, park planning, park buildings, gardeners' training, garden theory, horticulture, town life
Keyword [sv]
offentliga parker, svenska städer, trädgårdsteori, trädgårdskonst, trädgårdsmästarutbildning, gestaltning, 1800-tal, parkbyggnader, stadsliv
National Category
Art History Social and Economic Geography Landscape Architecture Architectural Engineering
Research subject
History Of Art
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-37492ISBN: 91-7988-155-6OAI: diva2:302506
Public defence
Available from: 2010-03-08 Created: 2010-03-07 Last updated: 2010-03-08Bibliographically approved

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Nolin, Catharina
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