Sweden – Today we visited the “City of Tomorrow,” otherwise known as Bo01 in Malmö, Sweden. The site of a former brownfield along the city’s western harbour was developed beginning in 2000 as part of an international housing exhibition, and Bo01 is as much a modern architectural endeavour as it was a testing ground for new sustainable technologies. The project’s main objectives were to reclaim previously contaminated soil, rely on 100% renewable energy, reduce motorized transportation and promote walking and bicycling, eliminate all hazardous materials from construction, and increase biodiversity in flora and fauna. While ambitious, the project was critical to the future development of the rest of Malmö. It was funded by Sweden’s Local Investment Programme for Sustainable Development and the European Union, and developed in collaboration with architects, developers, government agencies, energy companies and local universities.
Bo01 is now a paragon of sustainable development, offering a multitude of dwellings for over 1000 inhabitants with further growth expected in the coming years. The development is now powered entirely by renewable energy and even waste is dealt with in an innovative way – garbage and recycling are placed in above ground shoots and sucked underground to the edge of the neighbourhood where it is picked up by garbage trucks. The vacuum garbage disposal system then takes the separated food waste off for composting and bio-gas.
The most interesting things about the development are the wide variety of public spaces available to residents and city dwellers alike. One of the goals of the development was that every resident be able to see water from their home, so canals, ponds and water features were integrated into central public spaces that connect the various developments. The complex was also designed to mimic a medieval town plan, with meandering paths connecting different areas and leading to the waterfront on the west side. The variety of lush urban wetlands, playgrounds for families, and intimate public squares invite neighbourly interaction. The residents we spoke to, who have lived in Bo01 since its inception, have enthusiastically adopted a sustainable way of life, and are particularly fond of the green roof that they see from their very backyard. This development serves as an inspiration for successful urban design that can simultaneously promote green living and provide rich public spaces that promote interaction and community living.