Livskraftig: A proposal for Haga Station and The West Link

January – May 2022


A proposal commissioned for Konstgestaltning kring station Haga / Public art for the urban spaces around Haga Station for Västlänken / The West Link.

  • Diabase rock from underground blasting and tunnelling, relocated to three rooftop sites;
  • Lichen (lavar) colonies;
  • 50–100-year timeframe for lichen colonies to achieve LC (Livskraftig or Least Concern) status.
  • Three public viewing telescopes;
  • Three '100-year' park benches with embedded QR codes;
  • Low-frequency audio soundtracks, accessed via QR codes;

Västlänken is double track railway, including a six kilometer train tunnel, being constructed beneath the city of Gothenburg. Construction planning for the project began in 2007 and is due for completion in 2026. Chronotopia is the curatorial theme established for a series of commissioned public artworks within The West Link project.

155 Expressions of Interest were submitted by Swedish and international artists to an open call Maddie Leach was one of three artists invited to develop a concept proposals for the Haga Station site.

Commissioned by Trafikverket /
Traffic & Public Transport Authority
In partnership with Göteborg Konst /
Gothenburg Art & Cultural Affairs Administration

Research, concept, sketches: Maddie Leach
3D images: Jonas Bentzer; Space Production Ltd
Additional drawing: Pablo Encinas Alonso
Design: Warren Olds / Studio Ahoy Ltd
Lichenologists: Martin Westburg & Ulf Arup
Dialogue partner: Julian Mckinney

“Livskraftig” is the Swedish word used for the classification LC or Least Concern in Red Listing, a system of categorization used by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess the risk of extinction for plant and animal life. “Kraft att leva” literally means power to live.

In English, one can think of livskraftig as life force, vitality, thriving.

A species of Least Concern is considered “plentiful in the wild”. The IUCN has assessed humans as qualifying for this category.

This is an artistic project that focuses on the power to live for species that receive very little public attention yet are fundamental to life. Estimated to cover 6-8% of the earth’s surface, lichens (lavar) are pioneer species that play a critical role in re-establishing life on rock and disturbed sites, helping change an inorganic environment into an organic one. They are described as having the ability to grow on anything that stays still long enough and scientists at the European Space Agency have reported their remarkable survival of unprotected exposure to UV and cosmic radiation in space.

Although there are about 14 000 identified lichen species, and they are present in many environmental conditions (from sea level to high alpine elevations), for many of us they go entirely unnoticed. They grow very slowly and may only increase by a few millimeters a year. Lichens are among the casualties of ‘plant blindness’ in humans, remaining of least concern and on the edge of our interest or perception.

Committed to a 50–100-year timeframe, Livskraftig aimed to bring qualities of attention, care, and slowness to a network of sites around Västlänken’s new Haga Station – what was proposed would be the result of collaboration between lichens, rocks, buildings, and humans. It was an artwork about the ability to thrive; a live project, not a static object, that would literally grow in place for generations to come.

Livskraftig: A proposal for Haga Station and The West Link


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerciaNoDerivatives 4.0 International License.