Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Received awards for environmental solutions in Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden

Some people call this city for the most beautiful in the world. Water, old buildings, squares, public transportation (mainly subway and buses) and environmental projects. So what happen in the Hammarby Sjöstad, the sustainable neighborhood? I took the subway-tvärbanan-walked there one day, guessing my way, were in a good mood and had my camera without any sim-card, so no pictures. But it look modern, lawn very shortcut, some flora in the seashore and they have their own ferry.
This district has received awards for it's environmental management.

*Environmentally good materials for the buildings
*Renewable energy from solar energy, fuel cells (better batteries), district heating, electricity and biogas from the waste from the area
*Waste water supply biogas production which is used for gas cookers, buses and cars
*Bicycle paths
*Few parking lots

What's wrong?
Straight streets built for cars, no people. Can they meet somewhere? There is a lot of restaurants and cafés in the area, but I couldn't see any ordinary stores like stores for food, small business for local people and so on. The neighborhood feels very empty.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's not only about climate change

The disaster planet earth is facing, and then all of us ontop of it, is not only climate change. Instead it's about several different things. It seems as some people think that this planet have enough resources to feed and give production to every one of the 6,8 billion people in this planet. Sure, we know that is not possible. We just have too many problem to deal with.

Air pollution (smog, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, ground level ozone etc. causes mainly from production and traffic)
Soil erosion (removement of trees and plants, monoculture agriculture, changed waterlevels and directions, change of flow)
Water shortage (soil losses their water-holding characteristics by removement of covering plants, agriculture with intense irrigation, lowering of groundwater level and change waterways i.e cities, industry, cotton production, parks, golf, water games etc)
Nutrients availability in soil decreases (monoculture agriculture, overuse of of fertilizers)

Two questions; Is this something to work with in a global way or is it for local projects? And are the solutions about the physical things, as low-energy, passive buildings, biogas cars, organic cotton, or the way of thinking and doing?

What can we learn if we open up our minds and think more in the ecological way? (i.e in this sentense not meaning buying organic/sustainable goods but instead take a closer look at the meaning of the word ecology; as the study about distribution and abundance of population in interactions with the environment)

For human population or the ecology of humans that would mean; why do we live where we live; what do we need around us in such a place? Can we be their for a longer time? Can the population grow in the specific area? How big is the area? Is it expandable?

Is it even possible to have an society which take those things under consideration? A community based on knowledge in ecology, the ecological city in balance with nature? Do we have to build new cities to manage that? Or can we rebuild houses/neighbourhood's/areas/villages/big cities?? Is it impossible to rebuild whole cities in balance with nature? Small project starts here and there, with small areas with "sustainable" neighbourhood. How can this be enough? Sunpanels on houses, some trees in town and streets without cars. What about the whole spectra, with the whole society and problems to that? What about consumption for instance? What about our ecological footprint? Is it possible do decrease it if we live in such a city? How can we manage to handle the environmental disaster that is close to come?

To argue about climate change is real or not is just a waste of time. We don't have time if it's true, and if it's not, all those small projects now running is a necessity for all the other problem we face.


Do we need more landarea to expand production (that would be in another planet), do we need more transports (international trade) or do we need (the first real) ecocities that are based on the balance of human and nature, which take care for people and nature and thinks about the consequenses even in the future?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A perfect example of an ecocity area in Malmö, Sweden?

The Western Harbour (Västra hamnen, Malmö, Sweden) is a mix of housing, cafes and small restaurants, shops, schools, squares, closeness to the ocean and opportunity for other people to go and enjoy.

The buildings is both big (as Turning Torso, 54 floors) and small (with 2 floors), and have different appereance. Between the buildings. water flows and water loving plants have been planted. Not planted as in organised parks but instead a bit messy as nature should be.
One of my favourites was also the little greenhouse with tropical plants, right next to a restaurant so you can go in there and eat in windy days and the open storm water system.
From the beginning a dirty industry area, now one of the most attractive areas to live in. An area which also allows other citizens to use the seafront. Maybe not so much a city as a residential area, but it's very very close and it has potential to be more.

A touch of Amsterdam

Windshield and a greenhouse in the same time


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Urban area, old Christiana gardening and bicycles in Copenhagen, Denmark

Yes, you can feel that you are close to the ocean, you can see that they have their rebuilding programs and they also have huge project for the environment.

Copenhagen have been rewarded as "the most liveable city in the world". In 2006 Copenhagen Municipality received the European Environmental Management Award, the price was for the holistic environmental long-term planning. Copenhagen also have the largest market for organic food, 45% in the municipally sector and 36% of the inhabitants bicycle to work, schools and university.

But Copenhagen, where is the cosiness? Where is the squares and the fun?

I didn't have the feeling of connection between different areas in this city. It was a bit tricky to find things, everything felt in the back of something else.

When arriving from the airport, I saw an area of new buildings, something that almost have some of the elements for a ecocity. I decided to walk there the next day, even if I didn't know what or where it was.

I found it, and it turned out that it was a new area next to the water. It was a rainy day, very cold and windy and right before this neighborhood there was a huge mall, I walked thought it to warm myself. And was a bit confused over what was going on here.The white buildings was quite nice. On the other side I met this grotesque building (first picture) where every apartment seems to have their own balcony behind glass. In the base of the building was nothing! Just asphalt. I guess it was a underground system with a parking house.

Even if the new area has lot of greenspots, closeness to water (bathing and boats) and a long and narrow park along the water, it felt very boring. With no people at all (because of the rain? the newish feeling, or the contruction? everyone in the mall?!), straight and lifeless squares, a lot of paths but not cosy (enough).

You can see green spots in Copenhagen, but when you walk there it hard to find it. In Christiania, for example, it's still some gardening and green spots, houses with green corners and some special apperience.

Christiania is just a remnant of what it have been. But we found some cosy spots. Small houses, small gardens and a lot of green...

 I also like the bridge between the houses!

Also, this building with greens- made a special appearence of this road in Copenhagen.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Terrasse house and green spots in Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw with Ecocity elements?

One example is that a quater of Warsaw is greenspace! Which many, today, are nagged in the edges when building new houses. Best way to hinder that is to build compact and high like in the innercity of Warsaw.

Another thing that I observed was the greenspace infront of the central station; the grass was not only ordinare grass as in lawn, instead a mix with small green plants, especially Plantago spp, it looked more like a landscape than a small park or a lawn- very nice and "wild". Also higher plants lived here, made different levels and colors of the "lawn".

When visited the Palace of Arts and Culture we aslo saw this building with terrasses and a small green house in the top? (tried to zoom in first picture above), and you can also see corridores with trees and green space in this city (last picture).

I guess that Warsaw having a lot better transit network (trams, buses, subway), more green areas and more rebuildning than many many other cities. Since joining the European Union 2004, Wasaw had experienced the biggest economic boom in its history. What will the consequences be in a soon future?