Developing Norra Djurgårdsstaden (NDS), a completely new urban district for 12 000 residents and workplaces for 35 000 people, has been a significant feature of the last two decades of planning in central Stockholm and, naturally, a huge challenge. It was, however, only half-way through the process that the Stockholm City Council in 2009 decided to profile NDS as an internationally competitive hallmark of sustainability, inspired by the previously successful development of Hammarby Sjöstad. This serves municipal marketing purposes while it promotes sustainable and innovative models of urban planning, construction and development that can be adopted by future projects.
Good practices & solutions
Developing a sustainable city district cannot be done by merely assigning the task to the Development Administration at the municipal administration; close co-operation is needed with other departments, construction, housing and other companies, residents and academia. A particular organisation was built up solely for working with NDS, with thematic groups of experts breaking down the many different project goals into specific sustainability requirements. Co-creation of problem definitions and ideas was also present at an early stage by necessity, as those involved in the long and complex development process had different experiences, knowledge, vocabulary and view of the problem, meaning that they needed to develop common frameworks in order to work together. In 2008, KTH conducted a series of future workshops, gathering experts and stakeholders around issues such as transport and energy, in order to gain a broad understanding of the challenges and possibilities of NDS. The outcome of these workshops implied a way forward for developing NDS. In 2010, a World Class Agreement (Swedish: världsklassavtal) was developed by around 100 different actors – including construction companies – regarding NDS. Again, when revising the NDS sustainability vision and targets in 2017, a similar process was conducted, in which researchers, different city administrations and companies, developers, by then established residents and others were involved in working out future challenges and objectives. Requirements specifications have been emphasised throughout the project. First, sustainability requirements are set at a high level.
Second, from an early stage, assigned developers need to declare their data on a regular basis so that requirements can be carefully followed up. Third, the main incentive for living up to requirements is not, as is usually the case, a fine, but open declaration of achievements in NDS’s annual sustainability reports. Not wholly unexpected, many developers anticipated a failure to meet requirements; thus, developing sustainability competence became a highly emphasised part of the process at an early stage. Forum för hållbara lösningar (Forum for Sustainable Solutions) was initiated in 2012 and has held around 20 events where material industry can meet developers to talk about innovative products and businesses. A capacity development programme is held since 2010 of knowledge sharing between involved actors in construction and sustainable development processes. The capacity development programme particularly demonstrates the progress of NDS, but also generally discusses innovative solutions to building sustainable housing. While many actors initially showed reluctance to participate, it only required for a few to join the competence development process for others to follow and subsequently compete with each other regarding learning about sustainability. The close dialogue with constructors also helped to improve project management’s requirement specifications.
NDS works with 5 overarching strategies, each encompassing the three dimensions
of sustainable development:
1) A vibrant city.
Emphasising the public space as an important area for equality and accessibility for all.
2) Let nature do the work
Harnessing green and blue qualities in improving life quality; for example, laying green rooftops is essential in order to meet requirements.
3) Accessibilty and proximity
Providing proximity to societal services and making fossil fuels as redundant as possible by promoting cycling and pedestrians.
4) Resource efficiency and climate responsibility
Creating smart management systems of energy, waste and engaging in a sharing economy. Moreover, a particular centre for re-use and restoration of used materials
and goods creates new value for artisanry connected to these practices, thus enabling a form of circular knowledge.
5) Participation and consultation
Local collaboration within and between neighbourhoods is emphasised through digital and analogue means. In order to experiment and push boundaries in NDS, R&D projects were welcomed to create innovative solutions with NDS as testbed. All projects were coordinated by the NDS strategic sustainability group, promoting projects in particular areas of interest to form a balanced and diverse portfolio of outcomes. Projects mainly worked according to triple or quadruple helix models, including C/O City, who developed new tools for assessing green qualities in built environment. 7For the NDS project management, the internal anchoring process of the unusual collaboration forms with construction actors, other cities and research institutesultimately took approximately 3-4 years to accomplish; however, the dialogue that has originated out of this process has become particularly beneficial and probably unprecedented for the City of Stockholm. Moreover, the close dialogue format breeds a higher level of respect and understanding due to mutual learning between actorsand their objectives, as well as an environment of constructive criticism.
No particular method has been utilised to foster co-creation apart from general project management tools; managing the chain of ownership by establishing contact higher up in the municipal management structure, and horizontally between departments, has been key to having the right expertise present at as many meetings and forums as possible.
Outcome & opportunities
NDS is currently the home of 6 000 residents having successively moved in since 2012. NDS won the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Awards in 2015 in the category of sustainable city district, awarded at the UN Paris Climate Conference. Through its high requirements, NDS has implemented a rich variety of sustainable solutions and more are waiting to be implemented. While apartments will be costly, the new land allocation agreement assigns developers to shaping properties in order to maximise accessibility in public spaces to attract a diversity of citizens.
Lessons learned & recommendations
The early stage is crucial for success in terms of co-creating sustainable solutions and knowledge. Aspects in need of particular attention in this regard are: clarifying the objectives and involvement of each actor, working on a strategic level, harnessing leadership, not giving up, have the courage to evaluate regularly, internal anchoring, revising targets, supporting the creative process and a general intuitive feeling. A particular significance is paid to including sustainable goals from the beginning, instead of pasting it onto already existing structures. A challenge hitherto unmanaged in NDS is the continuous documentation and preservation of knowledge generated in the process, in order to ensure that it lives on into other projects.