26 October 2010

Millions of kronor for sustainable urban development

Two projects in Mistra Urban Futures have been granted funding for coordinated urban development. One relates to energy-efficient homes and the other to citizens’ influence on urban planning.

The projects are ‘Cooperation for improved energy efficiency in urban residential areas’ and ‘The interplay between citizens’ initiatives and invitees’ participation in urban planning: an interactive research project’. The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) and also the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the National Heritage Board and the Swedish Transport Administration are jointly providing the funding.

Energy efficiency measures have been implemented in two residential areas, Brogården in Alingsås and Gårdsten, the Gothenburg suburb. These and another area — Kongahälla in Kungälv, which is currently in the planning stage — will be used as case studies. Here, the research team will collaborate with property managers, tenants, urban planners, building and energy companies, and municipal experts and decision-makers. The application is supported by the University of Gothenburg, the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, the Västra Götaland region and the municipalities of Gothenburg, Alingsås and Kungälv.

‘In this project, we seek to contribute knowledge of how the law, economics and planning processes for energy efficiency can be improved,’ writes Ylva Norén Bretzer, project manager at the University of Gothenburg School of Public Administration, in a press release.

Bridging gaps
The other project awarded funding, concerning interaction between citizens’ initiatives and invitees’ participation in urban planning, touches on a range of questions related to the urban planning of the future. How can forward-looking urban planning and design reduce gaps in urban areas, bridging the differences between richer and poorer districts, and how can local residents themselves join in influencing the processes? How can the city thereby also become more ecologically sustainable through, for example, meeting-places and pedestrian streets that induce people to walk more?

Delegation for Sustainable Cities
The background to the call was the survey of research on cities and sustainable urban development carried out by the Swedish Delegation for Sustainable Cities. This pinpointed a need for research with an integrated approach. The purpose of the call was to support interdisciplinary research and development projects that are system-oriented and closely bound up with the practical aspects. These approaches tally well with the modus operandi of Mistra Urban Futures, which it intends to develop further.

‘So it’s especially pleasing to get this indication that the new Urban Futures Centre’s approach is evolving along the right lines,’ says Henrik Nolmark, Urban Futures’ Acting Centre Head.

Mistra Mistra