Two people from each municipality participates, usually mayors and executive business managers. During the first meeting in Älvsbyn the participants learned about architecture and the importance of design. They also walked around in the surrounding environment to oversee the city buildings, signs, entrances and lighting.
– It was valuable information. Most agreed that we should take advantage of the typical 1950's style and even the old neon signs, there is great potential to create a really hospitable commercial street in the center of our towns. The participants also said that the square in front of the town hall could become more welcoming, said Pär Jonsson, executive business manager in Älvsbyns county.
An important part of the project is that participants travel around and review different countys. A different set of eyes make the leaders of the county aware of what measures can be implemented to enhance the experience.
– Destination Design is about the experience of a place. Through stimulating all of our senses you can enhance the overall experience, said Helena Jönsson, Project Manager for 'Time to Redesign Norrbotten'.
But destination design is also about highlighting history, culture and traditions through design and architecture. The goal is to create a common thread in both downtown buildings and in the presentation in order for the county to become more attractive.
– The process has shown good results in Norrbotten, but can be applied to any field, said Helena Jönsson.
With the help of experienced consultants, participants are allowed insights into how design and architecture can enhance the identity of each county. Two of the consultants are Mats Öhman in Luleå, with several years of experience in the development of county's and tourist facilities and Olle Lundberg, an industrial designer in Stockholm, who has worked with Destination Design for over ten years, including in the famous Ski-resort Åre.
Representatives from Arvidsjaur Boden, Kalix, Kiruna, Lulea, Älvsbyn, Överkalix and Övertorneå have already joined the program. Previously, six other municipalities in the region participated in "Time to Redesign Norrbotten". The proect has received considerable praise and attention both nationally and internationally, and most of the projects success relies heavily on the focus set on the user, the inhabitants and the visitors in mind.
– Residents are the best ambassadors for a county and a region. If the residents are happy and proud of their countryside, visitors and investors will soon follow, said Helena Jönsson.
Text and photo: Centek at Luleå University.