With its Fruit and Energy Farms, the Thunmanskolan’s schoolyard in Knivsta (Sweden) displays the processes of harvesting energy from the sun and the wind, through man-made technology and photosynthesis. What is more, the two farms point to a new balance between the urban and the rural – to the self-empowerment and self-sustainability of communities. The project – designed by artist and architect Marjetica Potrč and STEALTH, and in collaboration with landscape architect Ingalill Nahringbauer – was commissioned by the National Public Art Council of Sweden and Knivsta Municipality. It has been made through an exchange with the school children and has been juried by them.

The 8.500 m2 schoolyard consists of two parts, the Fruit Farm – with hands-on harvest of apples and pears, and the hi-tech Energy Farm – a hybrid system consisting of solar panels and a wind turbine that transform energy from the sun and wind into electricity, sufficient to light the schoolyard. The 12.5 meters tall wind turbine (a WES Tulipo) is licensed for use in urban areas to be safe and silent. It can generate a maximum output of 2.5 kW, although in the urban area of Knivsta it will generally produce a much more moderate outcome. The 6 solar panels produce around 1.2 kW. Inside the school, the actual energy production is displayed to the students and staff so they can monitor the direct impact of wind speed and cloudy or sunny days. This ecologically friendly power is harvested and plugged in the school’s electricity grid. In the Energy Farm, stretching out from the main school entrance, a white pattern on the asphalt represents one of the molecular structures of photosynthesis.

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[open structure and theatre]

A large wooden deck connects the Fruit Farm and the Energy Farm. The aim of the design is to provide students with an open space and an open structure to freely and inventively interpret for playing, socializing, or relaxing. Due to its central position, Thunmanskolan’s schoolyard also offers an important public space for gatherings of the community. Thus the theatre, located at the centre of the schoolyard, serves both students and Knivsta citizens.

“The Thunmanskolan schoolyard is a good example of a project that moves between art and architecture. We believe that for a school this is very important. A school should provide an environment that challenges students to explore their own approach to the world. For this reason it’s im- portant to work with a design that is slightly unsettling, that gives a little twist and makes you to struggle a bit. The large wooden deck, the theatre, the Fruit Farm and the Energy Farm — all are still open for exploration.”

[identity for a community]

Knivsta is a new municipality with many ambitions for the future and in search for its identity. Together, the Fruit Farm and the hi-tech Energy Farm make a statement to the broader community about participation in harvesting, and caring for energy resources. Nature and the city coexist simultaneously, in a new way.

  • [team ] Ana Džokić, Marc Neelen and Marjetica Potrč, in colllaboration with Ingalill Nahringbauer
  • [project management ] Per Liljenstrand, A5 Arkitekter & Ingenjörer AB; Joa Ljungberg, the National Public Art Council Sweden; Hanne Natt och Dag, Knivsta Municipality
  • [pattern of photosynthesis ] Milan Hodoscek
  • [special thanks to] student committee: Siri Persson, Elin Sandell, Caroline Sundqvist, Linda Lundin, Robin Lindelius, Dante Bergqvist, Lars Stålberg, Josefine Johansson, Christoffer Eriksson, Carolina Offenbacher; teacher: Lasse Wynne; A5 Arkitekter & Ingenjörer AB: Magnus Höglund and Anette Regenberg.
  • [windturbine ] WES Tulipo, see http://www.windenergysolutions.nl/
  • [background ] In 2006, the National Public Art Council Sweden and Knivsta Municipality together commissioned a complete redesign of Thunmanskolan’s outdoor environment as well as the school’s student café.
  • [timeline ] december 2006 – june 2008
  • [publicity ] Svenska Dagbladet article ‘Energikick’ (11/06/2008, in Swedish), BIS 3-08 article in Skolgardskonst ‘Knivstas konstnarliga energiknippe'(in Swedish), KVART magazine #6 ‘Fotosinteza u skolskom dvoristu’ (02/2009, in Serbian), RUM 03/09 article ‘Arkitektrollen i förändring’ (03/2009, in Swedish)