Last week Oslo Urban Arena attracted over 700 visitors from around Scandinavia and abroad. More than 50 speakers participated in the event discussing the urban future of Oslo and its region. SPACEGROUP gathered strategic leaders in infrastructure, transportation and urban planning to discuss Transport Oriented Development around Oslo and Scandinavia.
The question was how do we manage the economic landscape of transport oriented development in Scandinavia today?
Gary Bates was moderating the debate addressing six questions for further discussion:
1) Vision in a social democracy; how do we create vision for transit oriented development in Scandinavia and how does decentralization play a role when we suddenly want people to live in a dense environment around train infrastructure? Where are the nodes and how do we deal with the idea of centricity?
2) Goals or visions; a technocrat or an urban approach? We keep asking ourselves how we can steer climate, how we can use use technical solutions to make the city a better plan, but what do we want the city to be and why do we still desire the dumb city?
3) The future users of the city; who are they? Are they happy with the dumb city or not? Are they nature freaks or technicians? How do we deal with the idea of cultivating tacit knowledge in the future city?
4) Infrastructure as a motor or a catalyst; the infrastructure has been working as a catalyst for a long time but now we see the benefits of retracting roads, how do you build this into your urban figure? Can heavy infrastructure become light?
5) The five meter city; are we shifting from designing the 10 minute city to a five meter city? A five meter city based on the street level user experience holding together landscape, façade and interiors where the meters above your head simply just square meters are.
6) The mayors' table; who sits around the decision table? Is the PPP the new paradigm for infrastructure and urban investment and how does the economic framework become part of the development plan?
Gothenburg; transformation through vision
Urban Hammarlund from Jernhusen; the Swedish government has given Jernhusen the task to use the public railway property for commercial purposes in order to make people, by their own choice, to travel by train. The strategy involves development of the stations, depots and the urban environment. Five years ago Gothenburg took the responsibility to develop itself as the core of the west coast region. The heart of this region is being developed through the project Region City, an urban development project for the central station area. As we developed the plan for Gothenburg we started off talking about the long term goals, the nodes of Gothenburg, its stations and places for interaction, the heart lands. The city should link the heart lands, and these goals became the bridgehead to the future. One of these hearts is Region City, developed towards the vision a a sustainable region city where strength and mobility and more encounters give economic growth to the whole of Gothenburg and its surroundings.
Hong Kong: self-sustained models for real estate and transportation
Robert Westerdahl from MTR Nordic talked about how MTR has developed the Hong Kong Metro where they develop cities through the idea of constructing neighborhoods where it becomes profitable to build more public transportation. This model they would like to implement in Scandinavia as well. “When developing a new metro line you don’t only increase the value of the land but you also build a car free city with all the common services as school, healthcare and living.” When building from scratch you build the city on top of the infrastructure, by doing this you can collect the revenues for the infrastructure but you ensure a city planning that has good public transport. The models that MTR work with will be introduced in the Scandinavian market in the coming years.
Oslo: creating more space in the city by improving public transportation
Hanne Bertnes Norli from Ruter explained how Oslo in the last 8 years has had fantastic success in transportation development, much tanks to market shares from car transportation. The goal is still to make a functional city, with benefits for economy and car users since it creates less congestion. “What we see now is that if we don’t expand the public transportation network we will get an increase in car use and we don’t want that.” We look now at the combination between public transportation, cycling and walking. The result is that you get more nodes and intersections in the transportation network. How do we use the scarce space on the streets of Oslo? Ruter explained how they want to put infrastructure underground as much as possible so that the streets can be used by more pedestrians, cyclists, trams and busses. Parking is the biggest challenge in order to create space and to improve public transportation.
Globally; climate change and individual and political adaptation to new models
Professor Karen O’Brien from the University of Oslo raised questions about the signification of individual change in transforming systems. What is the real challenge and what is the real problem in relation to this urban transformation? Even with adaptation, the warming of the planet in the 21 century will have high risk impacts on our society. We are addressing these issues as if they were technical problems, but technique will not lead to change. It’s about changing mindsets, and how we approach change. We are good at the technical part of creating new models but when it comes to climate, this is an adaptive challenge. How do we address adaptive challenges? Adaptive challenges are personal individual and collective ideas about the future what we don’t and want and want but they are also political. Whose visions counts? How can we realize the future with changing values, worldviews and changing visions? We need the right people to collaborate in order to create change for society.
Next year at Oslo Urban Arena SPACEGROUP will again be debating Station City and how we can build a zero emission city based around train infrastructure. We are continuing to explore the means of how we can design and construct compact high quality cities with low material usage and zero emission design solutions.