What does a sustainable city look like?

Sustainability West Midlands logoA couple of weeks ago I attended ‘Voices from the future 2020: how are we housed?’, an event organised by Sustainability West Midlands.

This is the first event in their ‘Voices from the future 2020’ series which develop themes from the report A low carbon vision for the West Midlands in 2020. The aim of this series is to stimulate thinking amongst decision makers in the West Midlands of the positive future we can have, and how to get there.

The main presentation, delivered by Stellan Fryxell, partner of Tenborn Architects in Stockholm, showed a great example of what a sustainable city looks like.

Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm, Sweden has been recognised as a success story all over the world.

Sustainable housing on waterfront in Hammarby Sjostad, Sweden

Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Victoria Henriksson, Dec 2003.

Hammerby Sjostad

Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Victoria Henriksson, Aug 2003.

Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Victoria Henriksson, Aug 2003

Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Victoria Henriksson, Aug 2003.

Symbiocity, the trademark that reflects all knowledge and experience in regard to the Swedish approach to sustainability, highlights:

In the 90’s, plans were made to build Hammarby Sjöstad in a former brownfield area of wharves and docks. The first construction phases were finalised in 2000. There will be 11,000 apartments, 25,000 inhabitants and 10,000 workplaces by 2015. The district is now famous for its integrated planning approach, where every aspect has been developed with the whole in mind.

Infrastructure investments delivered include:

  • Automatic underground waste collection systems
  • District heating and cooling fuelled partly by local waste collection and by heat exchangers in water treatment
  • Solar-powered hot water and electricity
  • Biogas from household sewage water and waste
  • Collection and filtration of runoff water
  • Super-efficient buildings, triple-glass windows, green roofs, and so on

I was particularly impressed with the holistic approach involved in shaping the city. Land use, transport, building materials, energy, waste, accessibility, services, leisure and culture were different aspects considered at the planning stage. Now, all of them are working together to make sustainability a reality.

If you want to know more about this project visit the Hammarby Sjöstad website or read the report Hammarby Sjöstad – a unique environmental project in Stockholm (PDF, 3.91mb).

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