Tonight at The Fremantle Network end of year event I will be talking about one of the most memorable destinations on my sustainability tour of Northern Europe – Malmo, Sweden.
Malmo is only a small port city but is truly punching above its weight in terms of ambitious sustainability initiatives.
At the heart of this is the Western Harbour project on reclaimed port land just outside the CBD.
This is perhaps the best integrated sustainability project I have ever seen.
Built on old degraded port land it has created a zero carbon development that is innovative, diverse and green.
At the centre of the development is the Twisting Torso an elegant 54 storey high-rise tower that creates on optical illusion of a leaning tower. This tower sits at the centre of an otherwise predominantly mediuium-low rise community.
Malmo is very windy so the buildings have been built with this in mind. Capturing breezes in warmer months but stopping them in cold months (and it does get freezing). It is clever design drawing on the designs of medieval cities (including the old parts of Korula, Croatia, one of Fremantle’s sister cities.)
To do this is has a “wall” of 4 to 6 storey buildings around the outside of the development facing the ocean. To the centre the height and density drops to predominantly 2 and 4 floor terrace housing.
At the core of the development are narrow pedestrian friendly laneways. There are rarely straight or parallel and it feels like a modern interpretation of an ancient city. Around every corner is a new surprise a pocket park, a green roof or glimpse of the ocean.
Cars are allowed but discouraged through design. As a result it is very bike and kid friendly.
Other innovations include an integrated storm water management network that feeds a range of water features and green spaces throughout the pocket parks in the area. This is in addition to green roofs take pressure of the drainage system.
Malmo’s Western Harbour is the first zero carbon development and the solar hot water heating (that is also converted in space heating) is visible across the development as is large scale solar PV.
Interestingly, Malmo’s Western Harbour was designed with over 55s in mind but has been unexpectedly popular with families due to its location, design walkability.
It has other great innovative feature like communal waster facilities that joint waste and recycling facilities that suck waste from central deposit facilities to the edge of the community. This is important because is means that streets can be narrow and don’t require streets that can fit garbage trucks.
Affordability was one challenge the Western Harbour was grappling with. The success of the project has made it quite expensive. The newest stage of the development is addressing this.
We were told that the urban designer /architect Klas Tham for this project had to battle long and hard to get it up because it had not been done before.
Overall I loved this project and think it is one of the best sustainability projects at a neighbourhood level in the world because community is at its core. Sustainability s not just a technical aspect bolted on like solar panels at the end but it fully integrated into the development from the beginning at every level creating a great place to live which is aesthetically pleasing.
As Klas Tham said:
“The urgent conversion of society to long term sustainability will only be possible when the sustainable alternative is regarded not only as the wisest, but also as the most attractive one…The prevailing quantitative standards for environmental sustainability, such as saving energy are necessary, but insufficient…It will not be until people’s aesthetic, emotional and social needs are also met that the sustainable society can be attained”