Experiment Stockholm wants to give both professionals within urban development and citizens who might find they have little influence, the opportunities to find new ways to approach the issues.
It is evident that everyone realizes that we live in a rapidly changing world full of great challenges. We also see that the challenges are part of a complex system. By identifying common issues and highlight the importance of quality in form and function, we can lay the foundations for a better use of resources. To do so we work with different themes. What interactions and common interests can be found among them?
City, suburb, countryside
Synergies, common interests and conflicts. How do we define “Stockholm” and how do the definitions influence our planning? In contemporary discussions on urbanism and sustainable growth the dense city centre is often used as the norm. But the dense city centre can only be sustained in relation to its surrounding countryside, and in a global context. Can we go beyond thinking in terms of inner city and suburbia? In what way are these areas dependent on each other? “Suburbia” is often talked about as a homogenous entity, yet it contains many different types, shapes and challenges. Could leafy residential areas with single-family villas be used as accelerators of change instead of being protected from any interventions? What are the unseen qualities of the countryside around Stockholm?
Interaction and integration
Mental infrastructure, social nervs. The Stockholm region is segregated. How can physical planning and urbanism influence our ways of interacting? What if we consider infrastructure as a system to create meetings rather than a system to transport people and goods from point A to point B? How does digital evolution change our way of interacting in the urban space? Can planning remove social, mental and physical barriers in the Stockholm region?
Nodes and hubs
Stockholm is building new urban regional cores and transportation hubs. What shape will they take; A windy commuter railway station or the equivalent of a Grand Central Station? Or rather, something we have never seen? How will one shift from one mode of transport to another? What happens if we think of humans instead of commuters? Each hub can be a place of transit, meetings and living. Can we find a balance between flow and permanence?
For Stockholm the central conflict of interest is between the urgent need to build the 300 000 new homes, and equally important need to create an urban region that continuously becomes more sustainable. How do we combine an expansive Stockholm with improved ecosystem services? Can we create a genuinely sustainable city if we include the global environmental footprint of the inhabitants of Stockholm? Are there other ways to construct the physical infrastructure? Is urban gardening efficient? Could it save us in a catastrophe or is it more an enjoyable thing to do in your leisure time? Should the individual or the society take most responsibility for the environment? What promises do concepts as “technical ecology” and “circular economy” hold?
Dialogue is not monologue
There are many strategies and methods for participatory urban development but they do not always give results. Dialogue can prove to be an obstacle instead of being constructive. The demand for housing in the Stockholm region is enormous. There is a lot of frustration among those in need of housing as well as those wanting to build more. What is being built, and what is not being built? A very important question is whose voice is not being heard in the process? The whole exhibition is a part of this dialogue with the public audience, and a meeting-place for professionals and other stakeholders. Maybe we could try some new tools?
The city of Stockholm has embraced the idea of using informal methods in urban planning. This broad movement goes by many names that carry slightly different meanings: tactical urbanism, urban acupuncture or place-making. These methods are small-scale, cheap and temporary ways to change urban space and initially many of these methods were unsanctioned actions from activists and interest groups. These tendencies have many positive effects and are now used by planning authorities and real estate companies. Does this point to particular deficiencies in the traditional urban planning system? Andshould we be wary of an evolution where our public space, controlled by democratic structures, is taken over and divided by different communities and groups? Is this a hidden privatization of public space? Are we creating a cool hippie dream or a city ruled by clans?
Varied building, varied functions
What does sustainable urbanity mean in a broader sense? To be able to adapt to change we need to create a more resilient and varied urban structure with variation in scale and time frame. Can we explore the potential of small-scale construction in an urban context or in the dense suburbs? Can we imagine districts where some buildings are temporary, others more permanent? Which planning processes would allow for new actors to enter the market, e.g. more urban self-build processes? Can we find inspiration in Tokyo, Amsterdam and Tübingen, to create a vision for Stockholm?
Beyond the car age
Most people agree that we need to create a transportation system that is both sustainable and promotes social and gender equality. How do we organize Stockholm’s streets when pedestrians and bicyclists are the norm? The city of Stockholm has decided on the Strategy of Accessibility that prioritizes the modes of transport in the following order, according to how resource efficient they are: pedestrians, bicyclists, public transport, goods and last of all, cars. Will all municipalities in the Stockholm region adapt to that strategy? And to what extent will they adapt their investment budgets and organizations to implement such a strategy? An intresting question is: What happens once the enthusiasm for bicycles? Can we find a mor effective interaction between different ways of transporting?
Planning for the unplanned
We must learn how to build for change. We should consider our built environment as part of the surrounding ecosystem. The urban system must be able to adapt to both long-term change and to sudden external shocks like economic shifts, natural disasters, political unrest or a sudden influx of refugees. When building the city we need to include a long term, sustainable production of ecosystem services, social resilience and flexibility. Also, we do not know what the next technological breakthrough is; maybe we will not even see its effects until they are part of our everyday life.