I first visited The BO 01 development at Western Harbour, Malmo, Sweden during the summer of 2001 when the site opened as an Expo of best practice of sustainable development. It was B0 01 that was the inspiration behind much of what Gerardine and I are achieving at HemingwayDesign. As an example of taking an old unloved industrial site and providing a stunning, beautifully conceived and delivered environment for all ages to live, work, play, eat and shop Malmo cant be beaten.
Klas Tham and his team ‘s first phase of Western Harbour, Malmo is also a “zero carbon” development. When I made my first visit in 2001 I had no idea what “zero carbon” meant. In 2007, on my fifth visit, I like many fully understand what the term means. The final phases of Western Harbour are not “zero carbon”, it has proved too expensive but that doesn’t make this development any less sustainable. Western Harbour, Malmo is “placemaking” at its best. Like the Victorians and The Edwardians bequeathed us, Western Harbour has longevity. People will still love to live in its beautifully designed homes, relax in the cafes, walk the wonderful public realm and relax on the brilliant street furniture in the 22nd century. What can be more sustainable than creating places that people cherish, encouraging residents and visitors to upkeep them?
On the whole we haven’t grasped this in the UK. We continue to allow housebuilders to build identikit rabbit hutches that research regularly shows are largely unloved by a population in the grip of a major housing shortage. Just like the mistakes made in the 60’s and 70’s we are building the slums of the future that will be pulled down in 25 to 30 years. The government has introduced The Code for Sustainable Homes, so expect to see more and more “rabbit hutches” with solar panels et al. In fact I am pretty confident that public realm, landscape and house design will suffer because of the rush towards scoring eco points to get planning permission. But what can be more unsustainable than building and then pulling down within 30 years? Surely all the all bells and whistles renewables wont offset this wasteful carbon footprint.
We have to tackle the carbon issues but not at the expense of liveability or we really will be kicking ourselves in the shin.