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Urban Stories Searching for the Sustainable City

ISSUE 7, 8/2016



Editorial board: Kaja Aas Ahnfelt, Erin Dumbauld, Kaja Elise Gresko, Benedicte Gyllensten, Erika Heiberg, Vendula Hurníková, Seán Michael Thompson, and Seth Townley. Design: Magnus Wittersø and Erika Heiberg Front page photo: Tiffany Linn Utvær Gasser Printer: Grøset Trykkeri Circulation: 700 Editorial review finished: 29th of February 2016 Date of publication: 25th of August 2016 ISSN number (online): ISSN 1893-5834 ISSN number (print): ISSN 1893-5605 Tvergastein has two annual issues and is distributed for free at UiO, UMB and several other locations. A digital version can be found at our webpage: We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and thanks to Benedicte Gyllensten and Florence Dassonville for lending us photographs as well as to our sponsors: Kulturstyret SiO, Arne Næss Chair, and The Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), Habitat Norway and Frifond Barn og Unge. Address: Tvergastein, c/o SUM, Postboks 1116 Blindern 0317 OSLO E-mail: Web: Facebook: Twitter: @tvergastein The article submission deadline and theme for the next issue can be found at the back of this issue. More details can be found on our web page and our Facebook page. Tvergastein accepts submissions in two categories: Shorter op-ed pieces (2,000 - 5,000 characters) and longer articles (10,000 - 20,000 characters), in either English or Norwegian.






Tr y k k s a k



Content ·8· Editorial Statement — Tvergastein Board of Editors

· 42 · Draw a Map with Your Brain — Archie Archambault

· 10 · India’s Smart Cities — Geir Heierstad and Kenneth Bo Nielsen

· 46 · Ikke se byen for bare trær: Om byens sårbarhet i et uforutsigbar framtid — Alexander Rullen Rosenlund og Bjørn Inge Melås

· 18 · Towards a New Ideal City — Robert Nevel

· 55 · Urban Development: Creating a Common Language — Chris McCormick and Oli Anderson

· 24 · The Paradox of Building More Roads When Aiming to Reduce Traffic — Aud Tennøy

· 61 · Cities, Infrastructure and Nature: A Vision for Urbanism — Matthew Poot

· 34 · Sustainable Urbanisation in Vietnam: Can Hanoi Bring Back the Bicycle? — Arve Hansen

· 70 · Your Neighborhood Blackbird: An Introduction to Urban Ecology — Simona Poláková




· 74 · The Potential of Emotional Energy and Mindfulness to Expand Sustainable Consumption Practices — Naomi Krogman and Emily Huddart Kennedy

· 120 · Discovering Hurdal´s Sustainability Equation: Tvergastein visited Norway’s first ecovillage — Kaja A. Ahnfelt

· 85 · Mikroinfill: små dimensjonar, store visjonar — Jørn Are Vigestad Berge og Hogne Øye Sætre


· 90 · The Layering of Urban Planning — Gro Sandkjær Hanssen and Hege Hofstad

· 130 · About the Contributors

· 102 · The Human Factor of Low-energy Housing: An Interview with Karina Standal — Kaja Elise Gresko and Vendula Hurníková

· 132 · About the Editors

· 108 · Urbicide (or An Elegy for Aleppo) — Al-Hakam Shaar and Robert Templer






Letter Fr The Edit The United Nations projects that by 2050 almost 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Considering that in 1950 a similar proportion of the world’s population lived in rural areas, this is a rapid demographic transformation. One framing of the specific social and environmental challenges involved in coping with this pace of urbanisation is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11. This calls for cities and human settlements to be made inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It is that key phrase, be made, that has inspired this issue of Tvergastein: the vision of urbanity this goal offers is certainly an attractive one, but is it just a vision? How do we get there? With this question at the forefront of our thinking, and with 2016 being the year in which the third ever UN Habitat Conference--where world leaders gather to review the global urban agenda--is to take place, we decided it was time for Tvergastein to take on issues of sustainable urbanity. We asked researchers from around the world and from a wide range of disciplines to contribute to a conversation about how issues of inclusivity, safety, resilience, and sustainability are addressed in an urban context. These issues, then, are a frame for Tvergastein 7, but the question we hope this edition will go some way towards answering is even bigger: what, and who, makes a city? 8


rom tors

That said, this is not a question to which there is a straightforward or unifying answer, as the articles in this edition of Tvergastein demonstrate. The shaping of urban environments by town planners, private contractors and policy paradigms certainly ought not to be overlooked, as shown by the insights offered by Norwegian researchers Aud Tennøy, Alexander Rosenlund and Bjørn Melås, and Gro Hanssen and Hege Hofstad in their contributions to Tvergastein 7.

But cities are not simply made of planning policy paradigms and the ideas underpinning design of architecture and infrastructure. As Henri Lefebvre observed, cities are “spatial projections of society.”1 In this sense, cities are formed from the sum of all actions by--and interactions between--the people who live there. This has profound implications for the idea of sustainable cities. It means that sustainability cannot just be simply imposed onto urban environments, but it must be lived by all of the participants in urban life. We got to experience first hand on our visit to Hurdal Eco Village, just outside Oslo, what happens when a human settlement is designed and built specifically with sustainability in mind and when this design is complemented by underlying values and practices. The social fabric of urban spaces is an issue that is foregrounded in a contribution to Tvergastein 7 that explores the effects on the city of Aleppo of the horrors of the conflict in Syria. AlHakam Shaar and Robert Templer’s article is on the phenomenon of ‘urbicide’: the intentional destruction of a built environment, the purpose of which is to eliminate entirely a way of life. While the situation across Syria remains bleak, there is hope for the future of Aleppo in the city’s “intangible heritage” embodied by each and every surviving resident of the city. This must be used, the authors argue, in any successful reconstruction of the city and the restoration of Aleppo’s pluralistic identities and common spaces. Humans feature heavily in almost all of the perspectives of urban life explored in Tvergastein 7, and indeed elsewhere. However, as the contribution from Simona Poláková highlights, there is an entire non-human world that co-exists alongside us in settlements we erroneously think of as just belonging to us. Urban ecology is the study of ecosystems that have adapted specifically to urban environments. Through telling the story of the blackbird, Poláková’s article demonstrates beautifully the invisible trials, tribulations and successes of wildlife adapting to life in the city. What makes cities and how, then? There is no definitive answer, and the discussion will doubtlessly continue. We hope that the ideas, and perspectives put forward in this edition of Tvergastein will contribute to this discussion, and provide inspiration to everyone who reads it for ways in which inclusion, safety, resilience, and sustainability can be better incorporated into urban life; this is because we feel that we have managed to answer one question somewhat more conclusively: who makes cities? The answer is that we all do. Tvergastein Board of Editors

REFERENCES 1 Lefebvre, H. 1968. Le droit a la ville. Paris: Anthropos. p.64 9



In spite of the global hype surrounding India’s emergence as a global economic powerhouse, the aggregate growth in the Indian economy has for several years been sluggish at best. To bring the economy back on the growth track, the incumbent government prioritises building so-called “growth infrastructures”1 including, importantly, new “smart cities”. In this article the authors ask just what visions of urban development the Indian “smart city” embodies, and whether it can inspire hope for a better urban future among the rich and poor alike.



The concept of “smart cities” is a dominant theme in

economic zones, and vast industrial corridors, to name but

recent discussions about urban development, highlighting


digital technology as an important driver of change.

The significance of India’s new growth infrastructures

A smart city is promoted as efficient, technologically

is probably nowhere as evident as in the current Indian

advanced, green, and socially inclusive,2 something

government’s “Make in India” programme. Promoted as

which is achieved through interconnecting interactive

a major national programme designed to transform India

infrastructure, high-tech urban development, the digital

into a global manufacturing hub, the “Make in India”

economy, and “e-citizens” who use information technology

programme promises to provide global recognition to the

to engage in politics, government and society.3 As such,

Indian economy, facilitate investments, foster innovation,

smart city initiatives are projected as responsive approaches

and build best-in-class infrastructure.8 But in fact, in terms

to the challenges of urban growth and renewal, as well as

of investment opportunities, it is growth infrastructures

to climate change and the challenge of building a socially

that are the cornerstone of the programme, with “top

more inclusive society.4

visionary” infrastructure projects worth a whopping 34

To accommodate massive urbanization through

billion USD to be developed over the next five years.9 The

social, economic and ecological sustainable development,

rapid development of growth infrastructures is promoted

India’s current government has launched a “smart cities

not simply as the key to the “Make in India” programme,

mission” of its own. The goal is to “drive economic growth

but also to “making” India into a globally recognised,

and improve the quality of life of people by enabling

innovative, world-class nation. New growth infrastructures,

local development and harnessing technology as a means

in other words, will provide the material basis on which the

to create smart outcomes for citizens”.5 The mission

“utopian visions of India’s rise to power”10 can rest and be

ostensibly puts people first, and improved and smart

realised. And as the “engines of growth for the economy of

core infrastructure is promoted as a vehicle for giving

every nation”11, cities are naturally important in realising

citizens a decent quality of life in a clean and sustainable

this vision.

environment. While the “smart outcomes” that the Smart Cities as Techno-utopias

mission envisions can be to solve a range of everyday urban problems both big and small, smart cities in India appear

Most of India’s smart cities, of which there will soon be

to be mainly about developing urban infrastructure in

one hundred,12 are still in the planning stages. What they

order to catalyse economic growth. As such, smart cities

will look like once realised is thus largely an open question;

constitute just one element in a much broader package

but a quick tour of the Ministry of Urban Development’s

of new so-called “growth infrastructures” – infrastructure

mission statement and guidelines for smart cities13 provides

designed to foster economic expansion and growth – that

important indications of the kind of urbanisation a smart

are currently being given high priority in policy-making

city is expected to generate. Tellingly, the mission statement


and guidelines have been equipped with the title Smart City: Mission Transform-nation to stress how the smart city

Smart Cities as Growth Infrastructure

mission is not just about upgrading or “smarting” a limited

A number of policy and legal interventions are

number of select cities; it is about changing the face of the

currently intended to facilitate investment into these new

nation as a whole. India’s smart cities are thus promoted as

growth infrastructures so as to, in policy-speak, free land

lighthouses, or a blueprint for Indian urbanisation.

and resources for their best uses, improve the countryside

The smart city vision that is presented in the

and the cities and unleash India’s economic growth,

mission statement is ambitious. Core elements of any

eventually integrating the country’s economy more fully

smart city will include adequate water supply, assured

with the global economy.6 These growth infrastructures

electricity supply, sanitation, efficient mobility and public

include not just smart cities, but also a slew of new

transport, affordable housing even for the poor, robust IT

greenfield or upgraded airports,7 hundreds of special

connectivity and digitalization, good governance including 12


e-governance, a sustainable environment, safety and

consultants and private enterprises.17 In addition, the

security for citizens and particularly women, and health

process of harvesting ideas from citizens to develop the

and education. Insofar as even a casual visitor to India

100 smart cities automatically privileges the culturally

will know that few, if any, Indian cities can match these

equipped or “smart” citizens who have access to, and

standards, the mission is an ambitious, almost utopian

master, information technology and the English language.

one; but when phrased in these terms, it appears beyond

Those who lack these skills and access options, including

reproach. In the smart city vision, rapid urbanisation

the majority of the urban poor and the underprivileged,

and comprehensive infrastructure development are

are likely to be excluded from this process. To what extent

unproblematically seen as setting in motion a virtuous

NGOs or activist groups are able to provide a voice to these

cycle of growth, development and an improved quality

groups remains an open question.

of life in sustainable and inclusive smart cities. That

A related concern is which of the many noble


sustainability and inclusiveness are held up as key concerns

goals in the smart city mission that will, in practice,

in the mission is brought out by how and when smart city

be given priority. A potentially important clue may be

proposals are evaluated. These two factors are highlighted

found in the 2015 “Smart Cities Indian Exhibition and

as important criteria, as are the expected benefits of smart

Conference” that was held in Delhi in May 2015. Among

cities for the poor and disadvantaged.15 The mission invites

the hundreds of exhibitors, a full 58 per cent represented

citizens and civil society to participate in the “smarting”

the IT and communications and building industries. In

process, and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

contrast, exhibitors involved in the fields of governance,

often stresses that the poor will not be abandoned to their

transportation and the environment in combination

own fate, but that India’s smart cities will cater to the basic

accounted for only 17 per cent.18 If this translates into

necessities of all its residents.

urban development practice it would seem that real estate

Yet as we know, all infrastructures are culturally,

development and telecommunications will become the real

socially and economically embedded, and hold the capacity

pillars of the smart city mission. Thus, when India’s urban

for doing such diverse things as making new forms of

development minister Venkaiah Naidu claims that India’s

sociality, remaking landscapes, defining novel forms of

future smart cities will guarantee the residents employment

politics, reorienting agency and reconfiguring subjects and

opportunities and a high quality of life comparable to any

objects. This embeddedness and general unpredictability

developed European city,19 there is cause for concern that

of infrastructure development thus raises fundamental

the result will be gentrification rather than social inclusion

questions about their social impact, and who the real

insofar as the poorer sections of society are extremely

beneficiaries of “making cities smart” may be.

unlikely to be able to afford to live in such cities. In most


Indian metropolises, inequalities in the consumption of Smart Cities as Spaces of Inclusion and

urban resources are already very sharp29 and middle-class


fortification or gating is common.21 This tendency could

To what extent India’s smart cities will increase

well be exacerbated by new, real estate and IT-centred

segregation or catalyse social inclusion remains, of course,

forms of rapid urban development.

a counterfactual question. But what we know from

Moreover, the smart city mission is, as we argued

previous experiences with urban renewal and development

above, part of a larger and interlinked package of new

programmes inspires little hope that social and economic

growth infrastructures. As part of this package, they are

inclusion will be the most likely or immediate result. An

linked to the development of new industrial corridors,

increasingly common critique of smart cities, and the

or regions of industrial development, connecting big

discourses which such projects use, is that they separate

metropolitan cities. This includes, for example, the Delhi-

urban governance from politics; they recast urban questions

Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Chennai-Bangalore

in technological and environmental terms, thus broadening

Industrial Corridor and the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic

the field of action and influence of technicians, planners,

Corridor. About seven new smart cities are expected to be 13


Smart cities in India appear to be mainly about developing urban infrastructure in order to catalyse economic growth.






developed as “nodes” along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial

Realising this would require a new approach to spatial

Corridor in its first phase.22 In land-scarce India, both these

planning; one that ensures the participation of the poor

new smart cities and large parts of the corridors themselves,

and which makes the entire city accessible to, e.g., those

will have to be built on inhabited land and will necessarily

who cannot afford public transport when commuting to

entail dispossession and displacement. Given India’s

work.29 Such pro-poor smart cities would therefore need to

deplorable record of rehabilitation and resettlement,23

be thoroughly grounded in the lives of those people who

and the unlikelihood that the evictees will be awarded a

rarely have a voice when urban development and planning

new smart home and a smart occupation in a smart city,

are discussed and decided.

upgraded from desi to European standards, this reads like a recipe for new forms of social and economic exclusion.


Grounding Smartness

cities through the prism of growth infrastructures, techno-

In this article we have sought to view India’s smart However, India’s cities can potentially provide

utopia, and as spaces of exclusion and inclusion. This

inclusive spaces, if the poor and underprivileged are

has led us to adopt a fairly critical stance vis-à-vis India’s

allowed access and presence. Compared to rural areas,

smart cities, for what we think are very good reasons. We

cities make it more difficult for the powerful to get away

are hardly the first to do so, and critical approaches to

with criminal conduct against, for example, people from

smart cities are, in general, abundant. These critiques are

the formerly untouchable castes. And while India’s cities

important, but it is equally important not to lose sight of

may not exactly be home to the complicated mix of blasé

the fact that India, along with the rest of the world, faces

worldviews and liberating cosmopolitanism that Georg

significant challenges related to rapid urbanization and

Simmel described for Europe a century ago,24 they often

climate change.

offer the children of the downtrodden better opportunities,

To accommodate the anticipated massive growth of

and women greater freedom and safety. Cities are also an

the urban population, and to confront new environmental

efficient way of organising people’s lives to the extent that

challenges, one needs new solutions, integrated urban

they provide people with access to economic networks,

planning and implementation capacity. Seeing cities not

efficient transportation, and creative environments. And,

exclusively as the source of our problems, but also as an

there is little doubt that India’s poor urban infrastructure

integral part of the solution to the challenge of creating

and services, both in terms of coverage and quality, could

sustainable societies, is imperative. The countryside is

benefit from a committed intervention.25

rarely a paradise for the poor and underprivileged, and in

But if urban development and smart cities are to

rural India it is, for many people, becoming increasingly

be pro-poor there is a need to move beyond the simple

difficult to imagine a desired future.30 Cities continue to

hope that the trickle-down effect will do the trick. If

inspire hope for a better future, and for social mobility.

the pro-poor growth associated with India’s smart cities is

And the high residential density of cities can, given

to become more than mere policy statements, one needs

appropriate planning and mixed land use, provide more

concrete measures that specifically target the economically

sustainable settlements than we find in today’s sprawling

and socially marginalized. Affordable housing,

settlements and cities. Towards this goal, we have argued

reduced commuting time, support for non-motorized

for an approach to smart city planning that seeks to ground

transportation, improved air and water quality, access to

smartness in the lives and aspirations of the city’s most

schools, stable power supply, solid waste management,

marginalised and vulnerable. This necessitates genuine

street lighting, enhanced green public spaces, and a safer

participatory planning that involves all sections of society.

and more secure environment are all potential smart

In a few years we will know whether the Indian states and

initiatives that would directly address the needs of the

cities have the required capacity, will and commitment

urban poor. And the benefits would be significant at both

to implement their plans, with or without private

individual and collective levels.28

partnerships, along these lines.






19 Ravindran, Shruti. 2015. “Is India’s 100 Smart Cities Project a Recipe for Social Apartheid?” The Guardian, 7

1 Sampat, Preeti. 2014. “Right to Land and the Rule

May. Accessed 7 December 2015. http://www.theguardian.

of Law: Urbanization and Resistance in India.” PhD


dissertation, City University of New York.


2 Vanolo, Alberto. 2012. “Smartmentality: The Smart

20 Baviskar, Amita. 2003. “Between Violence and Desire:

City as Disciplinary Strategy.” Urban Studies 81(5), pp.

Space, Power, and Identity in the Making of Metropolitan


Delhi.” International Social Science Journal 55(175), pp.

3 Luque-Ayala, Andrés. 2015. “Developing a Critical


Understanding of Smart Urbanism.” Urban Studies 1-12.

21 Waldrop, Anne. 2004. “Gating and Class Relations: The

4 European Commission. 2012. “European Initiative

Case of a New Delhi ‘Colony’.” City & Society 16(2), pp.

on Smart Cities.” Accessed 8 December 2015. https://


22 PR Newswire. 2015. “2020 India Smart Cities


Infrastructure Investment Outlook.” Accessed 7

5 Ministry of Urban Development. 2015. “Smart Cities:

December 2015.

Mission Statement and Guidelines.” New Delhi: Ministry


of Urban Development, Government of India. p. 5-6.


6 Sampat, 2014. p. 5.

23 Fernandes, Walter. 2007. “Singur and the Displacement

7 Nielsen, Kenneth Bo. 2015. “Mopa Airport Woes.”

Scenario.” Economic and Political Weekly 42(3). p. 203.

Economic and Political Weekly 50 (24).

24 Simmel, Georg. 1950. “The Metropolis and Mental

8 Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. 2015.

Life.” In The Sociology of Georg Simmel, translated, edited

“Make in India: Investment Opportunities in India January

and with an introduction by Kurt H. Wolff. New York: The

2015.” Delhi: Government of India, Department of

Free Press of Glencoe. pp. 409-424.

Industrial Policy and Promotion. p. 3.

25 World Economic Forum. 2015. “The Future of

9 Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, 2015.

Urban Development & Services: Urban Development

p. 11.

Recommendations for the Government of India.” Geneva:

10 Kuldova, Tereza. 2014. “Designing an Illusion of India’s

World Economic Forum.

Future Superpowerdom: Of the Rise of Neo-Aristocracy,

26 In India, growth is defined as pro-poor when the

Hindutva and Philanthrocapitalism.” The Unfamiliar 4(1),

incomes of poor people grow faster than those of the

p. 17.

population as a whole. World Economic Forum, 2015.

11 Ministry of Urban Development, 2015. p. 5.

27 Ministry of Urban Development, 2015.

12 Exhibitions India Group. 2015a. “Smart Cities India

28 Joseph, Manu. 2015. “Smart Cities Could Hold Hope

2015 Exhibition and Conference Post Show Report.” New

for India’s Rural Poor.” New York Times, 8 September.

Delhi: Exhibitions India Group. p. 3.

Accessed 7 December 2015. http://www.nytimes.

13 Ministry of Urban Development, 2015.


14 Ministry of Urban Development, 2015. p. 5.


15 Ministry of Urban Development, 2015. pp. 33-34.

29 Puchera, John, Nisha Korattyswaropama, Neha Mittala

16 Jensen, Casper Bruun and Atsuro Morita. 2015.

and Neenu Ittyerahb. 2005. “Urban Transport Crisis in

“Infrastructures as Ontological Experiments.” Engaging

India.” Transport Policy 12(3), pp. 185-198.

Science, Technology, and Society 1, p. 83.

30 Gupta, Dipankar. 2005. “Whither the Indian Village:

17 Vanolo, 2012.

Culture and Agriculture in ‘Rural’ India.” Economic and

18 Exhibitions India Group. 2015b. “2nd Smart Cities

Political Weekly 40(8), pp. 751-758.

India 2016 Expo.” New Delhi: Exhibitions India Group. p. 8. 17

Towards a New Ideal City


Urban planners and architects have traditionally called upon a number of late 19th and 20th century works regarding urban planning that do not consider inclusion, safety, resilience and sustainability. There are, however, alternative works that encourage a value system shift based on lessons from nature that can be carried forth by city planners and architects and policy makers to reimagine and remake cities.



Growing vegetables to feed the local community in Chicago. Credit: ROBERT NEVEL

Cities are made by design, which is to say, by making

historical models and analyses, and the like. For the

choices. Which books burden the night stands and drafting

planner, they’re useful in arranging the pieces and parts

tables of the decision makers has everything to do with how

(the infrastructure) of a city, establishing a certain order

inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable our cities will be.    

and visual coherency and for exploring aesthetic potential.

In Tvergastein’s call for papers, two questions are posed:

The drivers are often conceptual, based on pure form and

“How are cities made?” and “What is necessary to foster

arbitrary organizational constructs. Ideas of inclusion, safety,

inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities?”

resilience and sustainability are not prom-inent in these

To the first question, the answer is, by design, which is to

discussions. Overarching ethical or moral concerns are, for

say, by making choices. To the second, the answer lies in the

the most part, absent.

circle, not the line.

There are, however, three other works (two not

Whether cities spring up of a sudden, from nothing, as

consulted by planners and the third, unlikely) which I

they can do these days, or have been around for centuries

think are key to not only true sustainable urban design

and are going through a renewal or expansion, they are

but to the future of our planet. They represent both a

made, or should I say designed, by urban planners and

basis and a method for making the ineluctable decisions

architects who are most likely, depending on their age and

which designing truly sustainable cities will necessitate.

where they trained, basing their decisions on what they’ve

In 1962 the paradigm shifted with Rachel Carson’s Silent

learned from a number of late 19th and 20th century

Spring.8 Not a treatise on urban planning, but rather an

works on urban planning. Camillo Sitte’s City Planning

awakening to the destructive potential of human decision

According To Artistic Principles,1 Daniel Burnham and

making. In 1969 Ian McHarg follows with Design With

Edward H. Bennett’s The Plan of Chicago,2 Tony Garnier’s

Nature9 in which he emphasizes an ecological approach to

Une Cite Industrielle, Ludwig Hilberseimer’s The New City

planning and design. And in 1971 Barry Commoner writes

Plan,4 Edmund Bacon’s Design of Cities,5 Colin Rowe and

The Closing Circle,10 which to this day is one of the finest

Fred Koetter’s Collage City6 and Helen Rosenau’s The Ideal

explanations of sustainable systems. An environmental

City7 are some of the more influential.

crisis in 1970, energy shortages in 1973 and 1979 and a

Much of the content of these sources involves

near nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979 begat

proportioning systems, pattern making, formal geometries,

conversations in design and planning schools but by the




Volunteers harvesting beans to feed to the local community. Credit: ROBERT NEVEL

Take heed dear reader, there is a way forward, a way to foster more inclusive, safer, more resilient and more sustainable cities, a way towards a new ideal city.



early 1980s energy costs had dropped and so too an emphasis

tremendous cost to the environment and to its future.

on environmentally responsible design.

There is another way; a way in which Barry

Much of the content of these sources, especially

Commoners’ ecological systems analysis is fused with Ian

Commoner and McHarg, involves systems, complexity, the

McHarg’s approach to urban design; a way by which cities

interrelatedness of multiple factors, causes and effects and

can approach a sustainable state. When the principles and

actions and reactions. The focus is on existential problems

standards of the community and those making decisions

and ideas of inclusion, safety, resilience and sustainability

on behalf of that community are in sync with what

drive the solutions.

Commoner calls “the circle of life,”11 when the planning

Again to our two questions: “How are cities made?”

process uses what McHarg calls the “ecological view”12 as

and “What is necessary to foster inclusive, safe, resilient

the basis upon which design decisions are made, then the

and sustainable cities?”

city will move toward a sustainable state. When copies of

Cities are made by design, which is to say, by making

Commoner and McHarg are seen on the desks of architects

choices. If those who make the choices look to Sitte,

and urban planners, the design of sustainable cities will

Burnham, Garnier, Hilberseimer et al. we will most

follow. And when copies of Commoner and McHarg are

certainly continue on the unsustainable trail blazed early

seen on the desks of industry leaders and politicians the

on in most all modern city planning. Chicago, my home

requisite guiding principles and values will take root. Until

town, is the epitome of this unsustainable approach.

then, in the words of McHarg, “Yet the problem remains

Settled at the intersection of the Chicago River and Lake

that of establishing a value system and responding to it. We

Michigan, over the last couple of hundred years choices

require to see the components of the natural identity of the

were made to kick out the native inhabitants, fill in

city as a value system, offering opportunities for human

the natural swampy lake front lowlands, dump sewage


into the lake, dump industrial waste into the river and

Though no city can be truly sustainable (see the

then reverse the flow of the river in order to send the

first and second laws of thermodynamics), they can,

industrial effluvium down to the Gulf of Mexico. The

asymptotically, approach a sustainable state. Take heed

focus has been on aesthetics and ideas of grand, formal

dear reader, there is a way forward, a way to foster more

arrangements of the urban infrastructure. Choices where

inclusive, safer, more resilient and more sustainable cities, a

made without regard for the natural world, without

way towards a new ideal city. Value the circle, not the line;

regard for the cycles of life. Chicago may look good,

design with, not against nature; and above all, have the

and it may be functioning by many measures, but all at

strength, the knowledge and the courage to do both.



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re tu na

d above all , h a ; an ve t he 22



REFERENCES 1 Sitte, Camillo. 1889. City Planning According to Artistic Principles, reprint 1965, Random House, New York 2 Burnham, Daniel.and Edward H. Bennett, 1909. The Plan of Chicago, The Commercial Club, Chicago 3 Garnier, Tony. 1904 exhibit. Une Cite Industrielle, exhibit published in 1917, A. Vincent, Paris 4 Hilberseimer, Ludwig. 1927. The New City: Principles of Planning, Paul Theobold, Chicago 5 Bacon, Edmund. 1967. Design of Cities, The Viking Press, New York 6 Rowe, Colin and Fred Koetter. 1978. Collage City, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England 7 Rosenau, Helen. 1972. The Ideal City, Harper & Row, New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London 8 Carson, Rachel. 1962. Silent Spring, Houghton Mifflin, Boston 9 McHarg, Ian. 1969. Design With Nature, Doubleday/Natural History Press, Doubleday and Company, Inc. New York 10 Commoner, Barry. 1971. The Closing Circle, Bantam Books, Toronto, London, New York 11 Ibid. page 9. 12 McHarg, Ian. 1969. Design With Nature. Doubleday/Natural History Press, Doubleday and Company, Inc. New York. Page 29 13Ibid. page 175 23

The Paradox of Building

More Roads When Aiming to

Reduce Traffic AUD TENNØY

Aud Tennøy, of the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research (TØI), examines the interesting paradox presented by city planners’ intentions to achieve zero net growth in traffic volume while continuing to expand urban transport networks.





Reducing car-dependency and traffic volumes are

a less car-based city, people have more options if the road

important strategies for making cities more sustainable,

system is congested. Hence, developing cities in ways that

resilient, inclusive and safe. How land use and transport

reduce car-dependency makes cities more resilient.

systems are developed affects car-dependency and traffic

A car-based city is also less inclusive. Buying, owning

volumes in well-known and empirically documented

and driving a car is expensive, and not everybody can

ways. In Norway, there are clearly stated objectives

afford it. In Norway, most families own a car1. In poorer

concerning zero-growth in urban traffic volumes. Still,

countries, this is not the case. There are also large groups

projects expanding road capacity, causing and allowing

of the population who do not drive a car: Youths under

growth in urban road traffic volumes, are under planning

the age of 18, people who cannot drive because of age

or implementation in many Norwegian cities. This is

or illness, and people who do not want to or do not like

an interesting paradox. In this article, I explain how

to drive. Living in a car-based city without owning a car

increased road capacity affects car-dependency and traffic

means reduced accessibility to activities, workplaces and

volumes, and how this negatively affects sustainability,

income. In cities where most activities can be accessed by

resilience, inclusiveness and safety. Further, I suggest some

foot, bicycle or public transport, fewer people are excluded.

explanations how and why such plans are made. Finally, I

Further, road traffic generates local pollution, causing

point at how ongoing research can turn discussions in new

health problems for many people, especially vulnerable

and interesting directions.

groups like children and elderly.2 Developing cities in ways that make them less car-dependent and traffic-generating,

How car-dependency and traffic volumes affect

therefore, makes them more inclusive.

sustainability, resilience, inclusiveness and

Traffic volumes affect safety and security in cities.

safety of cities

According to the World Health Organization, traffic

Reducing car-dependency and traffic volumes are

accidents killed about 1,24 million people globally in

important strategies for making cities more sustainable,

2010.3 Compared to a more car-based city, a less car-based

resilient, inclusive and safe. Car traffic is an energy-

city is both statistically safer and perceived as a safer place

demanding way of transporting people. The concept

to live by its residents. This means that fewer people are

involves moving a car, weighing 1,5 to 2 tonnes, in order

killed by traffic, but also that parents can let their children

to move one to five persons around. On average, there are

walk to school and play outside without being worried and

1,55 people per car, and even less when people are driving

that people can bicycle to work without fear.

to work (1,15).1 Most cars run on fossil fuels, meaning that car traffic causes greenhouse gas emissions. Phasing

Land use and transport systems developments

in electrical cars contributes to reduction of greenhouse

affect car-dependency and traffic volumes

gas emissions only if the electricity is produced from

There is strong research-based evidence that the spatial

non-fossil energy carriers. Reducing traffic volumes hence

structure of urban regions, together with the absolute

means reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy

and relative quality of transport systems for cars, public

consumption for transport. These are important elements

transport, bicycle and walking, to a high degree, affect

in a more environmental sustainable urban development.

transport demand, car-dependency and traffic volumes.â€

In a more energy-scarce future, a car-dependent city

The interrelations between spatial structure and travel

is less resilient. Dense cities, developed in ways allowing

behaviour concern mainly proximity and accessibility. The

people to move around by foot, bicycle or public transport,

denser an urban region is, the shorter the average distances

will be less negatively affected if car-usage is restricted.

are between origins and destinations. This allows for higher

Car-based cities and transport systems are also more prone

shares of trips made by non-motorised modes, and for

to congestion, meaning that increased population and

shorter average car trips. Further, a dense city can be more

transport demand will lead to reduced transport quality. In

efficiently served by public transport than a sprawling city,



and a dense city will often offer less favourable conditions

reduced. This agreement can be summarized and simplified

for car use. These mechanisms cause dense cities to produce

to be expressed in the following strategies, preferably

less car traffic per capita than sprawling cities.

implemented in concert:



various activities are located within the urban structure

• Developing land use as urban densification close to city

also affects car-dependency and traffic volumes. Empirical

centres, as ‘car-independent’ location of new activities,

studies during the last decades present overwhelming

and with daily services within walking distance of

evidence that most activities (e.g. housing, workplaces,

residential areas (density, centrality, accessibility)

shopping) generate less traffic the more centrally located

• Improving public transport services (frequency,

they are.8,10

coverage, speed, punctuality) and conditions for

Hence, in order to minimize car-dependency and

walking and cycling (infrastructure, maintenance,

traffic volumes, cities should be developed through


densification and transformation in and close to the city

• Imposing physical and fiscal restrictions on road traffic

centre, rather than as sprawl on new land at the outskirts.

(road tolls, road capacity reductions, reduced access to

Activities attracting the most people (employees, visitors)

parking, increased prices for parking)

It is widely recognised among researchers and many practitioners that increased road capacity in congested urban road transport-systems causes and allows growth in traffic-volumes

per square metre should be located in the most central

Planning for increased road capacity in

parts of the city. The relative and absolute quality of the

Norwegian cities – an interesting paradox

transport-systems (for car, public transport, bicycling,

The Norwegian Parliament’s climate agreement, the

walking) matters for people’s travel behaviour. This assumes

National Transport Plan, along with many county- and

that people aim to reduce travel time, improve travel

municipal plans, state the objective of zero-growth in

comfort or reduce direct expenses related to travelling. If

traffic volumes in the larger urban regions. Hence, it is a

travel is fast, comfortable and cheap, one would expect

particularly interesting paradox that despite this objective,

trips to be more frequent and, on average, further than

expansions of urban road capacity are planned or under

if expensive, uncomfortable and time-consuming. If

implementation in most of the larger cities in Norway.

conditions for car use are or become better, compared to

conditions for using other modes, the shares of the car

projects is often a combination of reducing congestion

travel mode will be higher. If travelling by other modes

and local traffic-related environmental problems. It is,

becomes relatively better than by car, the shares of those

however, widely recognised among researchers and many

modes will increase.11,12,13,14,15

practitioners that increased road capacity in congested

Based on the above-mentioned and a number of

The motivation for the road capacity expansion

urban road transport-systems causes and allows growth in

similar studies, there seems to be relatively widespread

traffic-volumes (increased vehicle kilometres (vkm) in the

agreement in the scientific literature on how land-use

urban region) that would not have occurred if the road

and transport systems ought to be developed if car-

capacity was not expanded. This phenomenon is often

dependency and road traffic volumes in cities are to be

termed induced or generated traffic, and it can contribute



to increased environmental problems and new congestions

seems to be a counter-productive measure. Investing in

within a few years given the right conditions.11,12,13,16,17

improved public transport services, and in infrastructure

for walking and bicycling, would be more efficient means,

This is a result of combined mechanisms, working at

different time-scales. Increased road capacity in congested

especially if combined with car-independent land use

traffic systems normally increases travel speed by car, at

development strategies and car-restrictive measures. Still,

least in the short run. This increases the car’s competiveness

the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) are

towards other modes and causes quite rapid shifts from

planning large-scale and expensive projects expanding road

other modes to car. It also reduces travel resistances and

capacity in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and other Norwegian

contributes to shifts towards more and longer trips.


Indirect mechanisms, working in a longer time perspective, have even stronger effects. Increasing travel speed by car

The E18 Vestkorridoren

allows longer journeys within a given time. This allows

An interesting case in this respect is the E18 Vestkorridoren

people and businesses to locate themselves further away,

through the municipalities Asker and Bærum, in the west

resulting in longer commuting and travel distances.

of Oslo. The road currently has five to six car-lanes and

Reduced travel time by car also makes construction of

carries 90-100 thousand cars a day on the heaviest sections.

housing, workplaces, retail and other activities in more

The traffic on the E18 Vestkorridoren is mainly local, in the

peripheral, car-dependent and traffic generating areas more

sense that about 40 % of the traffic both starts and stops in

attractive.6,8,13,15,18,19,20 If new developments require new

Asker or Bærum, while another 45% either stops or starts

public transport lines and the budgets for public transport

in Asker or Bærum.21 Only 15% of the traffic passes the

services are not increased, this implies a weakening of

two municipalities without stopping. 38% of the traffic has

public transport services at other places in the urban

origin or destination in Oslo municipality. The corridor is

structure.12 All these mechanisms contribute to making the

also the main access for road transport from the southern

urban region more car-dependent, and to increasing traffic-

parts of Norway and from the municipalities west of Oslo,

volumes. Since traffic does not start or stop on motorways,

and is hence an important corridor for long-distance traffic

but rather in housing areas, centres and the like, traffic

to and through Oslo. The road has been congested for

volumes increase in all parts of the city. Increased traffic

years, and is understood as a local environment problem

in inner and central parts of the city may reduce the

(noise, pollution, barriers) in Asker and Bærum.

attractiveness of these areas, causing developments and

activities to sprawl outwards in a transport-demanding

road capacity in the corridor for almost 20 years. The latest

pattern. New roads, traffic, and parking take up space and

planning process started in 2009. In the current plans,

push the city outwards as well. These mechanisms continue

NPRA propose to construct a six-lane tunnel through

to work until the traffic growth causes congestions anew,

Asker and Bærum (the tunnel is not continuous), and to

but now with more participants and in a more car-

keep the existing road infrastructure more or less as it is,

dependent city.11,20 Interestingly, reducing road capacity

and use it for local traffic and public transport.22 If the

tends to activate opposite mechanisms, leading to a less

plans are realised, the road capacity is expanded to up to

car-dependent city and lower traffic volumes.14

14 lanes, of which two would be public transport lanes.

Construction of high-standard bicycle infrastructure

These mechanisms are well described theoretically and

The NPRA has worked on plans for increasing the

investigated empirically, in several contexts and ways, and

is part of the project. Hence, as leading politicians in

there is hardly any debate amongst researchers concerning

Asker and Bærum highlight, the road project improves

their validity. It is hence well known that expanding road

conditions for public transport and for bicycling. However,

capacity in congested urban road transport systems causes

the improvements for car-traffic are larger than the

and allows growth in urban road traffic volumes. If the

improvements for public transport and for bicycling, and

objective is zero-growth in traffic volumes in the rapidly

the project will improve the car-traffic’s competiveness

growing Norwegian cities, then expanding road capacity

towards public transport and bicycling. Reduced travel 28


time by car will also open for car-based developments of

How and why are traffic-increasing plans made

new housing, work-places and other activities in Asker,

and implemented?

Bærum and the municipalities further west, increasing

This leaves us with interesting questions: how and why are

car-dependency and traffic volumes in the urban region.

plans made and projects implemented that counter-act

During the planning process, there have not been any

clearly stated political objectives? How could shifts occur

proposals to implement any of the measures which have

that change urban developments in directions making cities

been shown and documented to contribute to reducing

more sustainable, resilient, inclusive and safe? These are

transport-demand and traffic volumes. All alternatives

wide questions, which I find particularly interesting, and

analysed have included expansion of road capacity.††

have investigated in several ways.10,23,24,25,27,28

This is a classic example of a situation where expanding

An important part of the explanation is related to the

road capacity in a congested urban road transport system

deep shift of paradigms still going on in this field.29,30,31

will allow and contribute to growth in traffic volumes. The

In the traditional paradigm, often termed ‘predict and

new road has capacity for about twice as much traffic as

provide’, traffic growth was seen as almost solely defined

today. NPRA’s analysis predicts that traffic across the Oslo

by growth in population, businesses and economy, and

municipality border will increase by 52%, or 60 000 cars

was inevitable. The way of solving congestion would be to

a day. The NPRA and politicians in Asker and Bærum

predict expected traffic growth and to expand road capacity

argue that they will use high road tolls to keep future traffic

in order to meet this growth. By building new roads as

volumes at current levels.

ring roads or in tunnels, traffic could be drained from local

streets and city centers, and reduce local pollution, noise,

Politicians and public agencies in Oslo municipality

are concerned about the large road capacity expansions

traffic accidents, and so on. The more modern framing

included in the Vestkorridoren plans. The right wing

holds that land use and transport system development in

City Council in Oslo (until the 2015 election) had stated

a city strongly affects car-dependency and traffic volumes,

ambitious objectives concerning zero-growth in traffic

as described above. Solving the problem includes steering

volumes and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. They

land use and transport systems developments in directions

recognized that it would be hard, or impossible, to achieve

that reduce transport demand, car-dependency and traffic

these objectives if the Vestkorridoren project were built

volumes. Expanding road capacity contributes to an

as proposed by NPRA, Asker and Bærum. In the election

increase of the problems, rather than reducing them, in

campaigns in 2015, Vestkorridoren became a hot topic.

the longer run. According to the European Environment

Politicians from most political parties in Oslo guaranteed

Agency, It has become clear that congestion cannot be managed just by adding road capacity, and an increasing number of cities are applying integrated approaches to tackle congestion, including measures related to access restrictions, parking standards and pricing policies, land use planning and improving non-motorised facilities and public transport services.32

that they would not allow a project that would increase traffic in Oslo, but were quite vague when it came to describing what they would do to ensure this. The up-andcoming Greens were uncompromising. Leaning heavily on research in this field, they promised to block all plans increasing road capacity in Vestkorridoren if they came in position. The Greens had a surprisingly good election, and took power in Oslo together with the Social Left

Party and the Labour Party. So far, they have stuck to their

urban road capacity is hardly contested among researchers

Even though the traffic-inducing effects of increased

promise, and the City governments are working together

and well-read planning practitioners, the idea that

with the other actors to find alternative solutions. In other

urban traffic problems can be solved by expanding road

Norwegian cities, like Bergen and Kristiansand, strong

capacity lives on.10,33 This is partly because many of those

voices are now calling for reconsideration of plans for

involved in these processes are not educated with respect

increased road capacity.

to this34. Further, they use tools (transport models and cost-benefit analyses) that do not fully take into account 29




important mechanisms.23,24,27 Professionals gain new

be understood as large natural experiments. A research

knowledge mainly through learning from each other, and

project is initiated in order to learn from this. Results from

to a lesser degree from reading up on new research-based

the pilot study of the first tunnel project, the Smestad

knowledge.10,34 This is partly because such knowledge is

tunnel, are already causing debates among professionals of

not summarised in ways that make it usable and useful for

various kinds. In this case, the road capacity was halved,


from four to two lanes, and this did not cause any serious

effects or consequences.35 This raises a number of questions

Another part of the explanation is that planning

and decision-making processes are quite complex. They

concerning urban congestion, how existing road capacity

are cross-sectoral and multi-level, and involve private

can be used in more efficient ways with respect to achieving

sector, public authorities and the public.24,25,26 They pose

important objectives, and the need and usefulness of

institutional and organisational challenges, with risks that

new road capacity. If the project is granted funding, we

the traffic-reduction will not be achieved. For NPRA, being

expect to gain new knowledge and to learn more about

responsible for the transport quality of the main roads,

the functioning of urban transport systems, and not least

as well as for the municipalities, expanding road capacity

how they can be developed in ways contributing to less

often seems like a simpler and safer way of ‘solving the

car-dependency and traffic volumes, and hence to more

problem’, at least in the short run.

sustainable, resilient, inclusive and safe cities.

When studying the E18 Vestkorridoren case, I found

that all these explanations were relevant.23,24,25,27 In this case, it was also evident that politicians in Asker and Bærum prioritise local environment and congestion problems affecting inhabitants living within these municipalities more than effects and consequences for the city of Oslo, or global and long term consequences. For instance, the environmental impact assessment did not cover traffic effects or consequences like increased congestion and local environmental problems caused by the project in Oslo.22 Shifting towards developing sustainable, resilient, inclusive and safe cities In order to reduce car-dependency and traffic volumes in cities, land use and transport-systems need to be developed differently than in the past. In order for a green shift to occur, planners and politicians need to take up new knowledge, frame the problem in new ways and prioritise differently. These are not easy tasks.

One could hope that new knowledge and new

experiences may contribute to changes in framing and understanding (and as a researcher I certainly do). As this is written, large changes are going on in the urban transport systems in Oslo. Over the coming five years, ten tunnels at the main road system will be partly closed for rehabilitation, causing strong reductions in road capacity. Large temporal and more lasting changes are also going on in the public transport systems. All this could 31


NOTES AND REFERENCES †See 4, by the same author, for more thorough discussion. ††For more thorough description and discussion of the planning processes, see 23,24,25,26. 1 Hjorthol, R., Engebretsen, Ø, Uteng, T.P. 2014. Den nasjonale reisevaneundersøkelsen 2013/14 – nøkkelrapport. TØIrapport 1383/2014. 2 Krzyzanowski, M, Kuna-Dibbert, B. and Schneider, J (2005) Health effects of transport-related air pollution. WHO 3 World Health Organization. 2013. Global status report on road safety 2013. 4 Tennøy, A. 2014. Byutvikling som gir mindre biltrafikk. Tvergastein, Interdisciplinary Journal of the Environment, # 4, 46 – 54. 5 Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. 1989. Cities and Automobile Dependence. An International Sourcebook. Aldershot: Gower. 6 Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. 2015. The End of Automobile Dependence. How Cities are Moving Beyond Car-Based Planning. 7 Næss, P. (2006) Urban structure matters. Residential location, car dependence and travel behaviour. London and New York: Routledge. 8 Næss, P. 2012. Urban form and travel behavior: experience from a Nordic context. Journal of Transport and Land use, Vol. 5, 2012. 9 UN Habitat. 2013. Planning and Design for Sustainable Urban Mobility. Global Report on Human Settlements. UN Habitat. 10 Tennøy, A., Hansson, L., Lissandrello, E. and Næss, P. 2015. How planners’ use and non-use of expert knowledge affect the goal achievement potential of plans: Experiences from strategic land use and transport planning processes in three Scandinavian cities. Progress in Planning, doi:10.1016/j.progress.2015.05.002. 11 Downs, A. 1962. The law of peak-hour expressway congestion. Traffic Quarterly, Vol. 16, pp. 393-409. 12 Mogridge, M. J. H. 1997. The self-defeating nature of urban road capacity policy. A review of theories, disputes and available evidence. Transport Policy, 4 (1), 5-23 13 Noland, R. B. & L. Lem, L. L. 2002. A Review of the Evidence for Induced Travel and Changes in Transportation and Environmental Policy in the US and the UK. Transportation Research D, Vol. 7, No. 1, Jan. 2002, pp. 1-26. 14 Cairns, S., Hass-Klau, C. and Goodwin, P. (1998) Traffic impact of highway capacity reductions: assessments of the evidence. Landor publishing, London. 15 Engebretsen, Ø. and Christiansen, P. 2011. Bystruktur og transport. En studie av personreiser i byer og tettsteder. TØIreport 1178/2011. 16 Goodwin, P.B. (1996) Empirical evidence on induced traffic. Transportation, 23:35-54. 17 Twitchett, C. 2013. Ignoring Induced Traffic – Ab Empirical Study of Induced Traffic. Master Thesis, Aalborg University. 18 Cervero, R. 2003. Road Expansion, Urban Growth, and Induced Travel: A Path Analysis. Journal of American Planning Association, 69-2, 145-163. 19 Litman, T. 2015. Generated Traffic and Induced Travel. Implications for Transport Planning. Victoria: Victoria Transport Policy Institute.



20 Wegener, M. og Fürst, F. 2004. Land use and transport interaction: state of the art. Universität Dortmund, Fakultät Raumplanung. 21 Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA). 2009. E 18 Vestkorridoren, analyse av fremtidig transportsystem, juni 2009 (E 18 West corridor, analysis of future transport-system, June 2009). attachment/106028/binary/178638 22 Norwegian Public Roads Adninistration (NPRA). 2013. E 18-korridoren Lysaker – Slependen. Kommunedelplan med KU. n.+Grunnlag+for+kommunedelplan.pdf 23 Tennøy, A. 2010. Why we fail to reduce urban road traffic volumes: Does it matter how planners frame the problem? Transport Policy 17 (2010) 216 – 233. 24 Tennøy, A. 2012. How and why planners make plans which, if implemented, cause growth in traffic volumes. Explanations related to the expert knowledge, the planners, and the plan-making processes. PhD thesis 2012:01, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. 25 Tennøy, A. 2012a. Land use and transport planning – institutional and organisational conditions for integration and goal achievement. Kart og Plan no. 4-2012, 258 – 268. 26 Tennøy, A. 2016 forthcoming. Forholdet mellom klimamål og transportpolitikk i praksis. In Hagen, K.P. and Volden, G.H. (eds.) (forthcoming) Investeringsprosjekter og miljøkonsekvenser. 27 Tennøy, A., Kværner, J. and Gjerstad, K.I. (2006) Uncertainty in environmental impact assessment predictions – the need for better communication and more transparency. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Volume 24, No 1 March 2006, sider 45 – 56. 28 Tennøy, A. 2009. Why we fail to reduce urban road traffic volumes: A challenge of double complexity. Kart og Plan no. 1/2009 27 – 36. 29 Owens, S. 1995. From ‘predict and provide’ to ‘predict and prevent’?: pricing and planning in transport policy. Transport Policy, 2 (1), 43-99. 30 Owens, S. and Cowell, R. 2002. Land and Limits. Interpreting sustainability in the planning process. London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 31 Banister, D. 2008. The sustainable mobility paradigm. Transport Policy, 15, 73-80. 32 European Environmental Agency. 2013. A closer look at urban transport. TERM 2013: transport indicators tracking progress towards environmental targets in Europe. EEA Report No. 11/2013. 33 Næss, P., Hansson, L., Richardson, T. & Tennøy, A. 2013. Knowledge-based land use and transport planning? Consistency and gap between ‘state-of-the-art’ knowledge and knowledge claims in planning documents in three Scandinavian city regions. Planning Theory & Practice, 14(4), 470-491. 34 Krizek, K., Forsyth, A. and Slotterback, C.S. 2009. Is there a Role for Evidence-Based Practice in Urban Planning and Policy?, Planning Theory & Practice, Vol.10, No.4, pp.459-478. file/0006/74715/E86650.pdf 35 Tennøy, A., Wangsness, P.B, Aarhaug, J., Gregersen, F. A., Fearnley, N. 2015. Pilotstudier: Før- og underveisundersøkelser av Smestadtunnelen og Østensjøbanen. TØI-report 1455/2015. See also Tennøy, A., Øksenholt, K.V., Aarhaug, J. 2014. Transport effects and environmental consequences of central workplace location. Transportation Research Procedia 4, 14-24.


Sustainable Urbanisation in Vietnam:



Following the impressive economic development and increased living standards experienced over the past decades, Vietnamese cities have also seen a massive influx of motorbikes, at the cost of air quality and urban mobility. In this article, Arve Hansen looks into the issue of urban sustainability from a transportation perspective, and argues that in order to make the air breathable and avoid an impending traffic nightmare, Hanoi will once again need to become a bicycle-friendly city.



Ask anyone who visited or lived in Hanoi in the early

disabilities and older persons.’

1990s, and they are likely to talk about a tranquil and

In terms of sustainable transport systems, Hanoi’s

quiet city where everyone either walked or rode bicycles to

performance is rather dismal. Public transportation has not

get around town. Until quite recently Hanoi was indeed

managed to keep up with the rapid growth of the city. The

in many ways a ‘green’ city, dominated by non-motorised

city’s bus system is insufficient and generally shunned by

transport to an extent that would draw envy from any

those who can afford other ways of moving around. The

advocate for urban sustainability. Hanoi is still beautiful,

old tram from the French colonial days is long gone, and

but for visitors today it is hard to imagine that this city has

‘tuktuks’ have been banned from the streets. Instead, private

ever been quiet. Heavy traffic, exhaust fumes and constant

motorised transport has taken over completely.3 The frenzied

honking is what you encounter in Hanoi’s contemporary

motorbike traffic has made Hanoi famous, and there are

streetscapes. The extent to which the city in short time has

now 4 million motorbikes in the city, almost two and a half

changed into a highly pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly city

motorbikes per household on average.4

is remarkable.

The millions of motorbikes are contributing

What happened? The simplest answer is that

significantly to making Hanoi’s air quality perilous.

development happened. Hanoi was peaceful and green when

Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the

the city was poor. It has however been a particular form of

Environment indeed estimates that 70 percent of emissions

development, and one that still holds an elusive potential

in the city come from the transport sector (the other main

for a greener future. Based on moto-mobile fieldwork1 this

culprit being construction).5 The situation is similar in other

paper approaches urban sustainability in Hanoi through

Vietnamese cities, and according to YCELP’s Environmental

transport. It starts out by considering the situation of urban

Performance Index, Vietnam now ranks as 170 out of

mobility in the city related to the Sustainable Development

178 countries globally when it comes to air quality.6 As

Goals. It subsequently discusses governmental responses

an example, the East-West Center et al. found that the

and plans for urban mobility, before suggesting that serious

concentration of PM107 in Hanoi was up to 10 times that

effort should be made in a bid to bring bicycles back to the

recommended by WHO, leading to cases of respiratory


disease and premature deaths every year.8 The situation is however getting even worse, as Hanoi

Transport and sustainability in Hanoi

in the recent decade has seen the start of what promises to

In discussions of sustainable development, cities have

be a transition towards cars.9 While it is hard to generalise

interestingly moved from being seen as centres of excess and

the emissions from cars versus motorbikes (cars in general

manifestations of the unsustainability of modernity towards

emit more, but the worst motorbikes can emit more than

representing the hope of a more sustainable future. Urban

the best cars)10 traffic congestion dramatically increases

development has now also been included in the Sustainable

emissions.11 And it is in particular traffic congestion which

Development Goals (SDGs), with SDG 11 calling for the

Hanoi is facing if current trends continue. A car demands

development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

up to seven times the space of a motorbike,12 and an


urbanisation review conducted by the World Bank found

Hanoi clearly faces some challenges in meeting

that the high population densities and sparse road networks

this goal, although the city deserves significant praise

of Hanoi are ‘simply incompatible with adoption of private

for avoiding slumification despite rapid urbanisation.2

cars as a major means of transport’ and that ‘one of the city’s

The biggest challenge, however, relates to the second of

main challenges is now traffic congestion and impaired

ten targets of SDG 11: ‘By 2030, provide access to safe,


affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public

Government responses

transport, with special attention to the needs of those

The Vietnamese government and local authorities in Hanoi

in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with

are very aware of the situation, and have been aiming 35



to come up with solutions. One of the most pressing

to be fully operational until 2030.17 There are also

issues is public transport, although the traffic mode share

discrepancies between government plans and reality when

represented by public transport has recently increased from

it comes to private vehicles. Road development plans state

four to seven percent.14 Public transport has indeed been a

that Vietnam will ‘prioritize the application of new and

target for the government, which has quite ambitious plans

eco-friendly technologies to minimize the negative impacts

for developing mass rail rapid transit systems (MRT) and

on the environment’18, but according to automobile

bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. According to government

manufacturers in Hanoi there are no plans for more

plans, these developments are supposed to meet 25 percent

environmentally friendly cars. Also, the various targets set

of transport demand in Hanoi by 2020.15 According to

by the government for the total number of motorbikes in

Vietnam’s Green Growth Strategy, the goal is even more

the country have been constantly exceeded over the past

ambitious, to reach 35-45 percent of demand in cities by

year. For example, while the current road transport plan


expects 36 million motorbikes nationwide by 2020, there were already 43 million of them in 2014 with no signs of

These targets are unfortunately not very realistic.


The construction of the MRT and BRT systems has been subject to several delays, and they are now not expected

Unsurprisingly, motorbikes are generally targeted 36


as the main culprits of poor air quality in Hanoi, and the

morning for shopping at the local wet market. School

government now aims to reduce motorbike ownership.20

children still use it (although the electric version is taking

Considering the spatial concerns noted above, this is

over), and street vendors all over the city continue to move

probably a bad idea. Rather, the government could try

around on bicycles. Bicycling has also been rapidly growing

to build on the increasing popularity of electric bicycles

in popularity as a means of exercise, and now large numbers

and electric scooters. The former are already widely in use

of bicyclists can be seen around Hanoi’s famous West Lake

among young Hanoians, the latter are just starting to take

in the early morning hours.27 In 2015, a pilot project in

off. So far there have been no plans from the government

Hanoi also saw police starting to patrol the streets of Hanoi

to accommodate these vehicles for alternative mobility. An

on bicycles.28 Meanwhile, concern for the environment is

even better solution, however, would be to start bringing the

increasingly voiced in Hanoi, seen for example in a recent

bicycles back.

successful movement to stop plans to cut down a large numbers of trees in the city.29 Local authorities should build

Where did all the bicycles go?

on these trends in a bid to make bicycles an important

David Koh has found that in 1981, Hanoi was home to

means of transportation and commuting once again.

600.000 bicycles and 56.000 motorbikes. Indeed, in 21

many ways the important role played by bicycles in ‘old

Sustainable mobility

Hanoi’ was central to the ‘motorbike revolution’ during

Along with walking, bicycles represent the most sustainable

the last decades. In a whole city built around two wheelers,

form of urban mobility. Interestingly, neither of these are

with its many narrow labyrinths and two-wheeled friendly

mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals. Similarly,

consumption geography, the motorbike represented a faster

among Vietnamese policymakers relatively little attention

and more convenient mode of two-wheeled mobility.22 As

has been given to bicycles (and walking) as transport

Truitt puts it, ‘Unlike bicycles, motorbikes promise effortless

options. While I was conducting fieldwork in Hanoi, the

mobility or, rather, mobility that relies on fossil fuel rather

Hanoi People’s Committee made a public comment about

than human exertion. A motorbike user enjoys mobility

bringing bicycles back to the streets. When I interviewed

without physical exertion, accelerating with a twist of the

officials in the Ministry of Transportation, however, this

handle and braking with a slight tap on the foot pedal’.23

was shrugged off as mainly ‘academic ideas’. The suggestion

The motorbike revolution did not only provide a faster

by the People’s Committee indeed caused several negative

and more popular way to perform mobility, it also made

reactions in Vietnamese media, as bicycles by many are

riding a bicycle, or even walking, more dangerous. Thus,

perceived as obstructing traffic further in the already densely

walking and bicycle shares of transport diminished rapidly.

populated streets.

Walking as a mode of transport declined from 50 percent

There are some bicycle lanes in Hanoi, and the Green

of all trips in 1995 to 25 percent of all trips in 2005.24

Growth strategy mentions that non-motorised vehicles

Furthermore, a study by the Urban Development Program

should be allocated special routes. At the moment, however,

for Hanoi found that in 2005, 34.4 percent of non-walking

the few designated lanes that are in place are frequently

trips in Hanoi were covered by bicycle, versus 57 percent

blocked by parked cars or other objects. Furthermore, the

by motorbike and 1.4 percent by car.25 By 2012, however,

bad air quality takes on agency through a negative spiral

the car share had increased to represent 12.3 percent of the

preventing bicycling and thus further deteriorating the air.

traffic flow. While two-wheeled transport still represented

Meanwhile, new developments in Hanoi come with the

85.8 percent of total traffic, 96.8 percent of this share was

expectation of future automobility built into wider roads

motorbikes and scooters and only 2.6 percent bicycles (the

and better parking facilities for cars.30 This holds the promise

remaining 0.6 percent were electric scooters).26

of transforming Hanoi in an even less sustainable direction,

The bicycles are still there, however. Most of my

but Hanoi’s unique two-wheeled urban geography still gives

informants would still have at least one bicycle in the

potential for a different development.

household. Some (mostly women) would use it in the 37


A sustainable Hanoi?

benefits for mobility, environment and health are potentially

Vietnam will have only one chance to get urbanization right.

enormous. Hanoi is now at a crossroads. On the one side

If we fail at urbanization, we will fail at industrialization and

the city can kill two birds with one stone and improve both


air quality and mobility. On the other, the future seems to

It is a given that Hanoi needs to develop its public

be that of a traffic nightmare comparable to other large cities

transport system. But even at the highest estimates, this

in Southeast Asia.

will only be able to respond to 45 percent of transport demand. Other estimates are much lower. 32 Thus, a focus


on public transport should be complemented by making

While cities do have the potential of significant

non-motorized private transport a tempting option. I see

sustainability gains through smart housing, public

two mutually inclusive main possibilities, both taking

transportnd infrastructure for walking and bicycling, they

advantage of the embeddedness of two-wheeled mobility in

are also acentres for high consumption, with ecological

Hanoi’s streetscapes. First of all, as mentioned above, local

footprints far beyond their geographical boundaries. The

authorities could focus on greening two-wheeled transport

problem is also that while cities indeed hold the potential of

through electric vehicles. This is already a trend among

eco-friendly housing and accessible green transport, this is

younger people, and bold policymaking could make this a

in reality not the direction that most cities in the world are

niche, possibly even involving domestic industry.

taking. Rather, with development and increasing affluence,

Secondly, and most importantly, Hanoi must bring

housing tends to become more energy consuming and

bicycles back to the street as more than a means of exercise.

transport moves away from collective and non-motorised

Based on my interviews in Hanoi there is significant interest

mobility towards private car ownership.33

in this among the Hanoian middle class. Many of my

This is also the reality in the streets of Hanoi. Rapid

informants were tempted by the additional health benefits

economic development has led to impressive improvements

of bicycling, and many see a need for doing something

in living standards. It has however also led to a massive

about the horrendous traffic situation and the high levels

influx of motorbikes in the traditionally bicycle-dominated

of pollution. However, most also found it too dangerous.

streets. Hanoi now sees the emergence of a second transport

Making Hanoi safe for bicycling once again is a vital step

transition towards cars, which will have highly negative

toward making the city liveable and the air breathable for its

impacts on mobility and air quality. Vietnam has become

inhabitants. This would demand on the one hand providing

a development success story over the last decades, and

separate lanes for bicycles and on the other restricting access

with a growing environmental conscience among its urban

for motorised vehicles to parts of the city. Such measures

inhabitants it is time for bold policymaking to bring the

could well prove unpopular at first, but the long-term

bicycle back.


Hanoi must bring bicycles back to the street as more than a means of exercise.



NOTES AND REFERENCES 1 See Hansen, Arve. 2015. “Transport in Transition: Doi moi and the consumption of cars and motorbikes in Hanoi”, Journal of Consumer Culture, Published online before print, doi: 10.1177/1469540515602301 2 Quinn, Lauren. 2014. “Hanoi: is it possible to grow a city without slums?” The Guardian. Accessed December 15, 2015. 3 Hansen, 2015 4 World Bank. 2014. “Motorization and urban transport in East Asia: Motorcycle, Motor Scooter & Motorbike Ownership & Use in Hanoi.” Technical Report No. 1: Context and Scoping. Hanoi: World Bank. 5 Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Socialist Republic of Vietnam. 2007. National State of Environment 2007. Hanoi: MONRE. 6 YCELP – Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. 2015. Environmental Performance Index, Country Profile: Viet Nam. Accessed December 15, 2015. 7 PM10 refers to so-called respirable suspended particles with diameter of 10 micrometres or less. Particles of this size can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs and can cause serious health effects such as various lung diseases. The popular face masks in Vietnam do not keep these out. 8 East-West Center, Center for Environmental Engineering of Towns and Industrial Areas, Hanoi School of Public Health and Unviersity of Hawaii. 2007. “Commuters’ Exposure to Particulate Matter and Carbon Monoxide in Hanoi, Vietnam: A Pilot Study”. East-West Center Working Papers (Vol. 64). Honolulu: East-West Center. 9 Hansen, 2015 10 IPCC. 2014. Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, Final Draft of Working Group III. Accessed December 15, 2015. 11 Transportøkonomisk institutt. 2011. “NO2-utslipp fra kjøretøyparken i norske storbyer: Utfordringer og muligheter frem mot 2025”. TØI rapport 1168/2011. Oslo: TØI. 12 World Bank, 2014. 13 World Bank. 2011. Vietnam Urbanization Review. Hanoi: World Bank, p. 130. 14 World Bank, 2014. 15 Prime Minister of Vietnam. 2013. “Approving the Adjustment on Vietnam Road Transport Development Scheme to 2020 and Orientation Towards 2030”, Decision No. 356/QD-TTg. Hanoi: Socialist Republic of Vietnam. 40


16 Prime Minister of Vietnam. 2012. Viet Nam National Green Growth Strategy. Hanoi: Socialist Republic of Vietnam. 17 World Bank, 2014. 18 Prime Minister of Vietnam, 2013, no page. 19 Tuoi Tre News. 2015a. Vietnam to start checking motorbike emissions in 2018. Accessed December 15, 2015. http:// 20 Hansen, Arve. In press. “Driving development? The problems and promises of the car in Vietnam”, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Forthcoming in 2016. 21 Koh, David W.H. 2006. Wards of Hanoi, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 22 Hansen, 2015. 23 Truitt Allison. 2008. “On the back of a motorbike: Middle-class mobility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam”. American Ethnologist 35: 3-19, p. 5. 24 World Bank, 2014. 25 Urban Development Program for Hanoi, 2009, in World Bank, 2014. 26 World Bank, 2014. 27 This is also a wealthy area of town, and many members of Hanoi’s emerging middle class can be found on imported mountain bikes that costs much more than a motorbike. 28 Tuoi Tre News. 2015b. “Hanoi pilots model of ‘police patrolling on bicycles’. Accessed December 15, 2015. http:// 29 See for example Peel, Michael. 2015. “Hanoi residents mobilise to save city’s cherished trees”. Financial Times. Accessed December 15, 2015. 30 Hansen, 2015. 31 Vietnam’s then Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung, speaking at the Vietnam National Urban Conferences, November 2009, quoted in World Bank 2011. 32 See World Bank, 2011. 33 See Hansen, Arve, Nielsen, Kenneth Bo and Wilhite, Harold. In press. “Staying Cool, Looking Good, Moving Around: Consumption, Sustainability and the ‘Rise of the South’”. Forum for Development Studies, Forthcoming 2016. 41

Draw a Map with your Brain


The way that urban spaces are traditionally mapped says much about how we think about the cities as about the cities themselves. Archie Archambault is an artist who pioneers a novel way of presenting urban spaces.





It takes less brainpower than ever to get from point A to point B. If you’re like most smartphone users, you let the little blue arrow direct you to your destination with little attention to the path you’ve carved. But the city isn’t a series of lefts and rights. It’s a playground to dissect with your feet and your eyes and your money and your interactions. When you’re staring at the little blue arrow, you cease to participate in the place, and instead follow a tube directly to a destination completely divorced from its environment. Using a map has come to mean “Find me a bike” or “Find me something to eat” or “Find my friend’s house”. It’s a series of commands that puts all the onus on the map and takes away all responsibility from the user. This is a big problem. For millions of years, humans have relied on the sun and stars for navigation. Now, suddenly we have no idea where we’re going? I don’t believe it.  My maps reject the idea that a city is beyond any simple explanation and within the realm of comprehension. Sure, dropping yourself in the middle of a metropolis, surrounded by huge buildings and new people is overwhelming. But with a brief introduction, it can be a great relief to discover a mental compass. That’s what my maps attempt to do: create a very simplified introduction to the city to quell the panicky feeling of being lost. Because in reality, you’re only as lost as you allow yourself to be. As soon as you feel confident in each turn, you have become a participant in the place, and no longer a meddling tourist. 




Ikke se byen for bare trær - Om byens sårbarhet i en uforutsigbar framtid


Artikkelen diskuterer hvordan moderne byplanlegging fører til sårbare byer. Det nåværende ovenfra-og-ned-paradigmet prioriterer kostnadseffektive løsninger, og tar dermed ikke høyde for at verden er kompleks og uforutsigbar. Alexander Rullan Rosenlund og Bjørn Inge Melås argumenterer for at vi heller bør legge til rette for rhizomatiske planleggingsprosesser som øker mangfoldet, dersom vi ønsker mer motstandsdyktige byer som vil takle møtet med klimaendringene.



“We’re tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots, and radicles. They’ve made us suffer too much.” Gilles Deleuze, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia1



Vi mennesker har en tendens til å organisere verden i

naturen - til alles beste. Den banebrytende fremgangen det

en trestruktur, og tremetaforen står sterkt i kategoriseringen

førte med seg gjorde at man også begynte å overføre denne

av verden vi lever i. Vi har kunnskapens tre, livets tre som

tankegangen til andre områder, og det ble etter hvert et

beskriver forholdet mellom artene, og trestrukturer som deler

grunnlag for samfunnslivet generelt - og hvordan vi har

inn de ulike fagfeltene med slektskap og utspring. Treet har

bygd opp institusjonene våre. Eksperter, spesialister og

i uminnelige tider vært et hjelpemiddel til å kategorisere og

sektortenkning er rådende.

forenkle en kompleks verden, slik at vi kan forholde oss til

Vi tenker mål og middel, lineære årsakssammenhenger og baserer beslutninger på at vi kan forutse og kontrollere. I dette forenklede bildet av verden, blir vesentlige sammenhenger utelatt.

den. Den er et uttrykk for vårt behov for orden, symmetri og enkelhet. Denne formen for inndeling og forenkling har gjort at vi har kommet langt på mange felt, så langt at vi har begynt å tro at verden faktisk er slik. I denne teksten argumenterer vi for at det å forveksle enkle modeller med en kompleks virkelighet kan gjøre byene våre sårbare. Og vi beskriver hvordan man, gjennom å omfavne denne kompleksiteten, kan lage byer som er bedre

Kompleksiteten i mange av de sosiale og økologiske

rustet i møte med en uforutsigbar framtid.

problemene vi ser i dag faller utenfor denne måten å tenke

I essayet A City is not a Tree2 kritiserer Christopher


Alexander den modernistiske byplanleggingsmåten å

I lys av klimaendringene ser vi at byene vi bor i er

tenke by på. Hver del henger sammen i et hierarki, en

sårbare. Ekstremt vær, stormer og flommer kan ramme uten

pyramidestruktur som i matematikken kalles et tre.

forvarsel. Noe av dette kan vi til en viss grad forutse og

Alexander mener denne måten å tenke på gir kunstige

forsøke å forberede oss på å ta hensyn til i planleggingen.

byer som står i kontrast til det han kaller naturlige byer.

Noe annet er likevel de framtidige utfordringene som vi

Naturlige byer, som har oppstått spontant og vokst fram

enda ikke vet noe om.

over tid, har en helt annen struktur, de ligner mer på et

Økonomen Nassim Nicholas Taleb beskriver slike

annet matematisk begrep, ´semi-lattice´, som beskriver et

uventede hendelser, og hvilke konsekvenser de har for vårt

nettverk med mange koblinger og med en helt annen form

samfunn. En Black Swan4 er en hendelse som er umulig å

for overlapping. Sentralt i teksten står ideen om at gode

forutse, men som får store konsekvenser når den inntreffer.

byer ikke er delt opp som perfekte tannhjul i et maskineri,

Den ligger utenfor vår idéverden og våre forventninger

men består av mange overlappende deler som forsterker

- ingenting kan på forhånd peke den ut som sannsynlig.

hverandre som en helhet. Alexander undrer seg over hva

I ettertid blir hendelsen som regel rasjonalisert – man

denne fascinasjonen for å organisere verden i tre-strukturer

aksepterer ikke at den var uforutsigbar, det passer ikke

kommer av - hvorfor vi deler opp og forenkler - og stiller

inn i vårt moderne og rasjonelle verdenssyn. Finanskrisen

seg spørsmålet om vi er fanget i et tankesett som gjør at vi

i 2008 er et eksempel; noe uforutsett skjedde, og hele

ser trær overalt, og prøver å sette det vi ikke forstår inn i

verden fikk smake på konsekvensene. Mye av diskusjonen

slike enkle strukturer.

dreier seg nå om hvordan vi kan unngå at det skjer igjen.

Denne måten å tenke på har spor langt tilbake

Etterpåklokskapen som ofte følger gjør oss ute av stand til å

i den menneskelige utviklingen. Et skille kan sees i

lære av våre feil, og systemene fortsetter å være sårbare.

opplysningstiden og kampen mot kirken som var den

Vi liker å tro at vi har kontroll over framtiden vår.

styrende kraften i samfunnet på den tiden. Denne kampen

Taleb mener at Black Swans har en viktig rolle i å bestemme

skulle vinnes med rasjonalitet, vitenskap og fornuft. Å

historiens gang, og at de må tas i betraktning når man skal

rasjonalisere (ratio fra latin: å kalkulere) ble et nytt verktøy

si noe om framtiden. Men hvis hendelsene som bestemmer

som gjorde at verden kunne plukkes fra hverandre, deles

framtiden ikke kan forutses, hvordan kan vi da forberede oss?

opp og måles hver for seg og sammen med vitenskapens

Det motsatte av sårbarhet blir ofte betegnet som

fremskritt kunne menneskeheten nå endelig temme

robust, resilient eller motstandsdyktig. Taleb mener 48


“Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack, lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access to reality. Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems. Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic.” Michel Foucault, Forward to Anti-Oedipus18



disse begrepene ikke er dekkende og lanserer begrepet

skala vil enkeltmennesket ha større mulighet til å ta del i

Antifragile5 (heretter anti-sårbar) som det motsatte av

utviklingen. For å frigjøre dette potensialet må vi kanskje

sårbar. Der det robuste og resiliente i beste fall står i mot,

sette spørsmålstegn ved våre grunnleggende strukturer;

eller kommer seg raskt etter et uventet sjokk, blir det

kapitalismen, økonomisk vekst og det vestlige moderne

anti-sårbare sterkere av disse påkjenningene. Taleb trekker

natursynet. Om vi kommer oss bort fra disse systemene,

paralleller til naturlige systemer som utnytter tilfeldige

kommer vi fort inn i et ulendt og ukjent terreng, der vi i

sjokk til å bli sterkere som helhet. Muskler blir sterkere

større grad kommer til å måtte eksperimentere oss bortover

av påkjenning, kroppen blir immun gjennom å bli utsatt

en vei som blir til mens vi går.

for små infeksjoner, og arter utvikler seg på denne måten

En som vil bidra med et slikt veikart, inn i det ukjente,

gjennom evolusjonsprosessen.

er psykoanalytikeren Felix Guattari med sitt essay “De

I dag prøver man ofte å redusere disse små sjokkene.

tre økologier”8. Hvor vi skal vet han ikke, men ved å dele

Et godt eksempel er monokulturer i landbruket. Når jorden

økologien inn i tre deler; den mentale, den sosiale og den

blir utarmet, tilfører vi kunstgjødsel. Når dyrene blir syke,

naturlige, prøver han å komme med noen råd om hvor vi

er det antibiotika på menyen. Ofte fører disse snarveiene til

bør starte. Den mentale økologien handler om hvordan

stadig nye problemer som for eksempel antibiotikaresistens.

vi tenker, føler og handler. Den sosiale økologien er vårt

Menneskets kontrollsystemer ofrer gjerne kompleksitet

forhold til andre mennesker, og den naturlige økologien er

til fordel for effektivitet. Når et utarmet jordsmonn blir

planetens systemer - vårt miljø. I dag sier vi gjerne at vi må

tilført kun de næringsstoffene den ene planten som dyrkes

ta vare på miljøet - vi må ikke ødelegge naturen, som om

trenger, vil det ikke føre til et levende jordsmonn der et

det er noe utenfor oss. Vi må altså få en større forståelse

mangfold av arter kan trives.

av at vi er en del av naturen. Ødelegger vi naturen så

Denne mangelen på ydmykhet i møte med en

ødelegger vi også oss selv. Vi er nødt til å rive ned skillet

kompleks og usikker framtid gir oss et feilaktig bilde av

mellom natur og kultur og forstå at de er en og samme sak.

hva sårbarhet er. Et økosystem som en skog er et godt

På samme måte bør vi rive ned en del andre dualismer som

eksempel. Ofte ser vi at små skogbranner som tar livet av

i dag virker selvfølgelige. Skillet mellom by og land er et

kratt gir nye arter mulighet til å blomstre. En skog kan

slik deling. Selv om våre moderne byer er frigjort fra sitt

takle en skogbrann godt på egen hånd, men vår moderne

omland, må vi ta inn over oss at det som skjer i byene er

praksis har vært å slukke disse små naturlige brannene.

koblet sammen med og avhengig av det som ligger rundt -

Det kan føre til at det blir en opphopning av brennbart

vi er avhengige av mat, rent vann, ren luft og en frisk natur.

materiale i skogen, som igjen betyr at neste brann vil ha

Kanskje er grunnen til noen av problemene vi ser i dag at

mye mer å vokse seg stor på.

vi er så koblet fra konsekvensene? Vårt kulturlandskap i dag

Branner vil alltid oppstå, det kan vi ikke forsikre oss

er alt det vi påvirker med vår livsstil - det vi gjør i byen har

mot. Men dersom vi tror at en periode uten små branner

globale ringvirkninger. For å kunne ta inn over oss en slik

betyr at skogen nå er tryggere, tar vi altså feil. Det som

kompleksitet trenger vi flere verktøy enn den modernistiske

virker stabilt er sårbart. Og det som virker kaotisk er anti-

tankegangen har gitt oss. Vi trenger et annet bilde enn




Vi går mot en monokultur i hvordan vi bygger,

Guattari innfører, sammen med Gilles Deleuze,

bor, lever, snakker, jobber og løser problemer - en global

konseptet “rhizome”.9 Det er et begrep de har lånt fra

homogenisering. Jo større systemene blir, desto mer sårbare

planteverdenen og ingefær er et eksempel på en slik plante.

blir de for uforutsette sjokk. Ved å skru ned skalaen og

Et rhizom oppfører seg fundamentalt annerledes enn et tre.

øke mangfoldet, kan vi også øke motstandsdyktigheten.

Det kan gro fra hvor som helst, sprer seg helt uforutsigbart

Den store skalaen i dagens systemer gjør enkeltmennesket

og kutter man av en bit vil en ny utvekst alltid spire.

om til en mekanisk bit i et stort maskineri, og mange

På denne måten er treet, som symbol, en mye mer

lever i en form for modernisert fattigdom med begrensede

sårbar struktur. Kutter man av stammen, hjelper det ikke at

muligheter til å påvirke sine egne omgivelser. I en mindre

greinene er sterke og mange.




“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” David Harvey, The Right to the City17



Tanken om det filosofiske rhizomet kan man overføre

ta høyde for usikkerheten. Det blir spesialistene som har

til hvordan vi har organisert samfunnet vårt. Vi er vant til

svarene og vi andre har ikke noe annet valg enn å stole

hierarki, å klatre mot toppen, en start og en slutt, at ting

på dem. Hvis man derimot er mer involvert i prosessene,

kan kategoriseres, analyseres og settes i bås og at det finnes

forstår man også kunnskapens begrensninger. Her er

eksakte svar. En rhizomatisk måte å tenke på er annerledes.

det viktig å påpeke at man trenger både bricoleuren og

Den åpner opp nye muligheter og forsøker ikke å redusere

ingeniøren. Visse problemer løses best med konkret og

mangfoldet gjennom forenkling. Den hjelper oss å forstå

eksakt spesialkunnskap. Men komplekse og upresise

at alt henger sammen med alt i komplekse sammenhenger

systemer som byer, krever også en åpnere prosess. Med

vi umulig kan forstå fullt og helt. Fokuset er ikke hva som

andre ord, hjernekirurgi er ikke noe alle kan gjøre, men å

har vært, men hva det kan bli. Det handler om å gå fra

forme sine omgivelser bør alle være med på.

en reduksjonistisk tankegang til å innta en holdning til

En rhizomatisk forståelse av byen innebærer prøving,


feiling og eksperimentering - en kultur der det å feile blir

I forrige nummer av Tvergastein skiller Felipe Fonseca

sett på som en verdifull erfaring man kan ta med seg videre.

mellom produsentkultur og reparasjonskultur.10 Disse

I denne prosessen er singulariseringer et sentralt begrep.

kan på overflaten se like ut, men det er en fundamental

En singularisering er et oppbrudd, en ny retning, en ny

forskjell mellom de to. Den første går ut på å lage nye ting.

start. Vår rådende markedsstyrte verdensorden har så stor

Den andre går ut på å bruke det vi har - reparere det eller

utstrekning og kraft at den har tatt over alle aspekter ved

bruke det på nye måter. Produsentkulturen følger, til tross

det sosiale, kulturelle og økonomiske og trengt seg inn i

for nye verktøy og samarbeidsmetoder, en industriell og

det underbevisste hos oss mennesker. Singulariseringer

lineær tre-tankegang - fra prototype til masseproduksjon.

er bevegelser som går i mot dette, på et personlig

Reparasjonskulturen er mer i slekt med bricoleuren som

og sosialt plan, en produksjon av mangfold.13 Dette

med sin utemmede tenkning klarer å ta i bruk ideer og

mangfoldet trenger vi i kampen mot markedskreftenes

konsepter på nye måter - en mer rhizomatisk måte å jobbe

homogeniserende og passiviserende effekt. Et initiativ i ditt

på. Francois Jacob11 bruker bricoleuren og ingeniøren som

nærområde, en ny sosial arena, en ny bekjentskap, en bok,

et bilde på hvordan evolusjon fungerer. Ingeniøren jobber

en film, et musikkstykke eller å plante et tre. Alt dette kan

etter en allerede uttenkt plan, der kursen er staket ut på

utløse en singularisering, men det forutsetter at man er

forhånd. For å komme dit bruker han spesialiserte verktøy

aktiv, nysgjerrig og åpen for andre muligheter.

og maskiner. Resultatet har som mål å være en perfekt

Vi trenger ikke medvirkning, vi trenger reell

løsning på et spesifikt problem. En bricoleur derimot, vet

involvering, medbestemmelse, engasjement og

ikke på forhånd hva hun skal lage, men bruker det hun

eierskapsfølelse. De som bor i byen må kunne ta del i sitt

finner rundt seg og mulighetene som oppstår for å lage

nærmiljø og være med på å forme det. Et eksempel der det

en løsning som fungerer og som stadig kan forbedres.

er rom for slik utprøving er Svartlamoen, et byøkologisk

Løsningene blir derfor mindre spesifikke, mer fleksible

forsøksområde i Trondheim. I et nylig oppstartet prosjekt14

og alltid i forandring. Mangelen på spesialverktøy og

er beboerne med på å forme området - fra oppstart til

ekspertløsninger gjør også at flere kan delta og jobbe videre

innflytting. Beboerne tar del i alt - fra å støpe fundament

med løsningen.12

til å sette inn vindu. Det å være med på å forme sine egne

Før den industrielle logikkens inntog, var mye

omgivelser gjør at man får en følelse av eierskap. Det gjør

av menneskets adferd basert på unøyaktig kunnskap,

også at man gjerne involverer seg mer i lokalmiljøet og

tommelfingerregler og tradisjoner. Man visste at denne

tar vare på stedet. Beboerne på Svartlamoen har gjennom

kunnskapen ikke var eksakt og tok høyde for det

mange år kjempet for å bevare mangfoldet i byen. Det er et

- man bygget inn en sikkerhetsmargin for det ukjente i

tilholdssted for mange med ulike livsstiler og en grobunn

avgjørelsene. I den effektivitetshungrige nåtiden blir ofte

for mye av den kulturelle, kreative og kunstneriske

denne sikkerhetsmarginen tatt bort, den blir sett på som

aktiviteten i Trondheim.

overflødig og lite effektiv. Da svekkes også vår evne til å

Slike medvirkningsprosesser er mye mer komplekse 52


enn det rådende ovenfra-og-ned-paradigmet i

sikt får man en sårbarhet når man konsekvent velger det

byplanleggingen, der en liten gruppe, gjennom teori

trygge. Hauskvartalet alene kan ikke løse alt - uansett hvor

eller ideologi, lager et sett med generelle spilleregler som

frie tøyler det får. Men flere slike steder, der ulike grupper

skal gjelde for en stor og sammensatt gruppe. Prosesser

og tankesett får spillerom til å sette sine ideer ut i livet, kan

som vokser frem fra bunnen derimot, skjer gradvis med

skape de oppbruddene som er nødvendig for å finne veien

skapelse og ødeleggelse om hverandre. Gjennom erfaring,

videre. Så lenge skalaen på enkeltforsøkene ikke er så stor,

observasjon og synspunkter fra mange forskjellige hold,

blir det også rom for å feile.

vokser nye teorier ut fra praksis. Kompleksiteten er med i

I De tre økologier har Guattari ingen tro på globale

hele prosessen, og det er ikke prisgitt at planleggeren har

løsninger, som at “vi” som verdenssamfunn klarer å

hele bildet klart før spaden settes i jorda. Denne forskjellen

håndtere disse problemene. Han har derimot tro på

gjør prosjekter som Svartlamoen mindre sårbare. Taleb

mange små individuelle grupper som prøver å finne

poengterer ofte at mangelen på skin in the game,15 er en

andre retninger enn de som er vanlige i dag. En slik

viktig årsak til sårbarheten i samfunnet vårt. Fly aldri hvis

eksperimentering kan være med å bidra til konstruktive

ikke piloten også sitter i flyet - prosjektet har større sjanse

løsninger. Innenfor en slik utprøving kan det bli rom for et

for å lykkes hvis de involverte blir påvirket av og må leve

stort mangfold, uenighet og systemkritikk.

med resultatet.

Vi lever i et samfunn som har vist at det er mulig å

Eksempler på det motsatte ser vi i dag i store

skape en enorm utvikling innen produksjon av materielle

utbyggingsprosjekter: lojaliteten ligger hos aksjonærene og

ting. På samme måte kan man se for seg en tilsvarende

utbyggerne fokuserer derfor mest på utbytte. Utbyttet er

utvikling i den menneskelige mentaliteten og de sosiale

for utbyggerne kun definert økonomisk - de skal få mest

relasjonene. Disse tendensene finnes allerede overalt i

mulig igjen for sin investering. Markedet, som er ekspert

dagens samfunn, de trenger bare å bli anerkjent og lagt til

på monokulturer, har spesialisert seg på en måte å gjøre

rette for. Det er ingen som har et fullstendig svar på hva

det på. Det har gitt en strømlinjeformet byggeprosess som

som er den riktige veien å gå videre, men det trenger man

kun følger denne økonomiske logikken. Kvaliteten på det


som bygges blir da et minste felles multiplum, det minste

Planlegging som legger en slik usikkerhet til grunn

den generelle befolkning kan akseptere. Så lenge vi ser

vil i større grad være i stand til å lære av sine feil. Vi må

på bolig som en vare, et investeringsobjekt, vil dette bare

planlegge for prosesser istedenfor produkt. Det forutsetter

forsterkes. Hvis utviklingen derimot er sterkere knyttet til

en større grad av menneskelig involvering og engasjement,

de som bor der og er forankret i lokalsamfunnet rundt, kan

en reell medvirkning der vi former oss selv gjennom å

et bymiljø med andre former for utbytte oppstå - som for

forme våre egne omgivelser.16 Dette tror vi vil gi oss byer

eksempel personlig og sosial utvikling, og et levesett som

som er mer interessante, morsomme og varierte - og som i

er mer skånsomt for økosystemene vi er avhengig av. Slike

mye større grad er i stand til å takle de utfordringene vi vet

alternative prosesser passer gjerne ikke inn i maskineriet

(og ikke vet) at vi står overfor.

som driver byutviklingen i dag. Den er styrt av målbare parametere som kr, m2, kWh og km/t, enheter er enkle å måle og forholde seg til, og som føles stabile og trygge. Hauskvartalet i Oslo kunne vært en motvekt til en slik måte å tenke på. Årevis med kamp fra engasjerte mennesker fra alle samfunnslag har fått kvartalet regulert til et byøkologisk forsøksområde. Deler av dette området velger kommunen nå, mest sannsynlig, å selge til høystbydende uten særlige begrensninger. Det trygge valget - på kort sikt. Andre alternativer velges bort fordi det er vanskeligere å forutse hva resultatet blir. Men på lang 53


REFERENCES 1 Deleuze, Gilles og Guattari, Felix. 1988. A Thousand Plateaus, kapittel 1: Introduction: Rhizome, 15. New York: The Athlone Press 2 Alexander, Christopher. 1965. “A City is not a Tree”, Architectural Forum (Vol 122, No 1, April 1965, 58-62 (Part I), and Vol 122, No 2, May 1965, pp 58-62 (Part II) 3 Malkinson, Trevor. “What is Modernity? - A sketch” Beams and struts. 4 Taleb, Nassim N. 2007. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, London: Random House, 5 Taleb. Nassim N. 2012. Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, London: Random House, 6 ibid. kapittel 6, 108 7 Illich, Ivan. 1978. Toward A History of Needs. vii. New York: Pantheon Books 8 Guattari, Felix. 2000. The three ecologies, New York: The Athlone Press 9 Deleuze, Gilles, og Guattari, Felix. 1988. A Thousand Plateaus, kapittel 1: Introduction: Rhizome. New York: The Athlone Press 10 Fonseca, Felipe. 2015. Gambiarra: Repair Culture. Tvergastein #6 - Leaving the box, 54-64, Oslo:Grøset Trykkeri 11 Jacob, François. 1977. Evolution and tinkering. Science, New Series, Vol. 196, No. 4295. 1161-1166. 12 Schumacher, EF. 1973. Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, New York: Harper & Row 13 Nøysom Arkitekter, følg prosjektet på 14 Guattari, Felix. 2000. The three ecologies, New York: The Athlone Press 15 Taleb, Nassim N. 2012. Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, London: Random House, 16 Harvey, David. 2008. The Right to the City. New Left Review 53. side 23 17 ibid. 18 Foucault, Michel. 1984. Forord til Anti-Oedipus av Gilles Deleuze og Felix Guattari, xiii. New York: The Athlone Press 54

Urban Development: Creating a Common Language With an increasing diversity of passionate ideas about how we shape our cities, the need for more agile processes has never been greater


In this article Chris McCormick and Oli Anderson argue that the common language within the system of urban development must be reconsidered in order to reflect the fluid reality of city building. It is dialogue that serves this purpose rather than the now commonly used debate that divides the stakeholders.



Where do we start?

‘debate’ mode of communication stem from the fact that

Everything humanity has created is a result of collaboration

it revolves more around reactivity and a desire to persuade

and some form of communication, the efficacy of both

that one’s personal agenda is correct, rather than a creative

depending on the way in which we view and think about

collaboration in the service of the ‘Truth’ of whatever

the world. Urban development is no exception and

situation is being dealt with.

arguably offers the most visual representation of the state of our collaborative processes and ability to communicate.

So what is the alternative?

In the age where climate change, migration and population

The counter to debate is dialogue. Etymologically the term

increase are dominating our media, cities are now being

dialogue stems from the Greek dialogos (conversation);

seen as a major focal point for how we are to shape our

its roots are dia (through) and logos (speech, reason).2 In

future on this planet. There is an abundance of movements,

contrast, debate is defined as being contention in argument

opinions, terms and technologies that are all offering some

where one side often prevails over the other party by

kind of solution to the huge challenges that we are facing.

presenting a superior context and/or framework of the

One such movement is the independent and global open-


source network Massive Small. They advocate for members

Dialogue can ultimately be seen as a way of

of communities to be urban practitioners and focus on

communicating realistically with reality. It thrives on

democratic urban processes that lead to an appropriate

fluidity beyond the constraints of conceptual duality,

‘new normal’ for what urbanism might look like in an

whereas debate has a tendency to divert us into a more

increasingly complex, informal and localised world. Part

rigid, one-sided view that limits the scope for a wider truth

of their declaration calls for rational discourse based on

and breeds a false representation of what is really going on.

shared understanding. It is here we shall start and it reads

This draws us to a paradox: whilst reality is an

as follows: “We advocate a common language for collaborative knowledge sharing and joint action by all people in the system. This provides a basis for cross-sectoral collaboration between all the urban professions and academia; between civic leaders and their agencies; and between active citizens and interest groups. Using this shared language, we promote openness, shared working and joint ownership of ideas and solutions

ever-changing flux of interchangeable experiences, we use a rigid set of intellectual protocols in language and communication to explain this fluidity. This has helped us to flourish and function as human beings. However, if we continue to attach to these illusory black and white, static interpretations of a grayscale, flowing reality, we will become out of touch with things as they actually are. When we build our urban areas and cultures on a false premise, treating our static conceptual ideas about the world as the

across the sectors.”1

reality of the world, we end up building that world on a

What might this common language look like?

false or unsturdy foundation; when we build with reality,

Isn’t the one we’re all used to good enough?

we have the strongest foundation of them all.

The very nature of the language we commonly use is rooted

Dialogue is the key to uncovering that foundation. It

in competition because it is based in a fragmentary way of

offers the tools that allow us to use the stasis of the intellect

thinking. It often comes down to a battle of perspectives,

to work with the flow of reality and to narrow the gap

and the term used for such battles is ‘debate’. For example,

between the two, so that we can work as closely as possible

politics is often about one side using all its persuasive

with things as they are, not only as we conceptualise them

powers to push its perspective through via the medium

or hope for them to be. The main difference between

of an argument. By virtue of the format, the other side is

healthy and unhealthy thought is flexibility versus rigidity,

then compelled to ridicule or lambast it; this is a grossly

and as our systems are a reflection of our thought, the best

inefficient method of getting things done and does not

way to create fluid, dynamic systems, is to become fluid

produce the best possible ways for solving whatever the

and dynamic in the way that we think and communicate

task at hand may be. Ultimately, the problems with this

within and about the world. If we really want our urban environment to thrive, 56


Credit: PATRIZIA used under CC BY-SA 2.0.

then there is a strong case for a more dialogue based

been heralded by many, we are however reminded that the

approach to our urban development processes.

work starts now; we have to implement the ambitions of this agreement; we have to think global and act local - if

What does this mean for urban development?

we fail to address the way in which we communicate with

Cities, as brought up earlier, represent a crucial platform

each other, we simply will not succeed in overcoming the

for solving some of the biggest challenges humanity has

challenges the future presents to us.

ever faced. At the time of writing, a historic agreement

Cities are allowing us to test new technologies,

between nearly two hundred countries to reduce climate

efficient transport and mobility solutions, sustainable

damaging emissions and give support to poor countries to

construction and much more besides. Thus, it is imperative

adapt their economies has been reached. Whilst this has

that the entire urban development planning process 57


embodies a culture of dialogue and discards dinosaur ‘top

which is Oslo’s largest area for development with the

down’ communication methods such as debate. Only then

potential for 27 000 new homes and 2.5 million m2 of

will we give ourselves the best chance of finding solutions

business space. Its proximity to the city centre means it will

that previously were unthinkable.

be an extension of the city of Oslo, whilst maintaining its independence as a self-serving city district.

What are the barriers?

In March 2015, at the close of the two day Hovinbyen

Like in most parts of the world, the planning process in

conference, the director for the planning and building

Norway is such that the only obligation for developers and

agency Ellen de Vibe summed up the conference

planning authorities to inform the public of a development

with an inspiring list of 24 points under the headings

is to first issue a public notice of the area earmarked for

Implementation Strategy, Temporary Activities, and

development with a statement for its intended use. This

Framework for Development. Among the points that she

is before any significant design work has been carried out.

made included the following:4

Once this notice has been served there is no obligation for

• Uncontrollable futures require incremental and

any intermediary processes before the design is submitted

flexible strategy

for a public hearing which is directly prior to submission

• We need bottom up initiatives from an energetic

for planning approval. By the time the process reaches

private and civil society.

a public hearing, many significant decisions about the

• Small-scale interventions are powerful drivers

development have been taken, for example transport and

• Develop destinations, look beyond boundaries,

mobility solutions that the public’s or other stakeholders’

use narratives and second life approaches, secure

comments and opinions can significantly affect. It is

collective ownership

always a delicate balance between how much you involve

• Sowing together a patchwork of the city, rather than

local project stakeholders and bottom up initiatives, but

knitting individual pieces

by simply ignoring them and effectively putting off the

• Create connectivity projects; build the bridge; focus

conflict to a later date, the likelihood of creating a backlash

on the most desired connecting lines

later on in the project is most probable. The outcome will be project delays, increased costs and a diluted design

Dialogue based communication processes are an

solution. In these situations everybody loses.

essential ingredient to the success of meeting the needs

There can be many reasons why these intermediary

expressed in these salient and powerful points.

communication processes are avoided in urban

There are many projects and interests involved in this

development. Often it is related to private and political

area, many visions, many stakeholders and an infinity of

agendas and the perception that the upfront financial

potential. Harnessing and leading these visions is a massive

investment in them gives no significant return later on in


the project. Whilst there will always be conflicting agendas,

A point emphasised by Thomas Berman, who is

the perception that involving bottom up processes will cost

behind the initiative Pådriv—a project with a long-term

a project more is not necessarily true. There appears to be

ambition to transform an area within Oslo into a global

a lack of knowledge as to how, by combining social and

example of how a future sustainable city might look—was

technological solutions, these processes can be carried out

that one of the significant challenges posed is collaboration

efficiently, and dialogue has a definitive role to play.

between different disciplines, sectors and interest groups that most likely have not collaborated before.5 The design

Where are the opportunities?

and engagement of communication processes that are

There is an exciting urban development project in Oslo

based on the principles of dialogue from a physical, social

where the will to embrace and encourage bottom up

and technological perspective will be a crucial factor to

initiatives to interface with top down urban development

the success of the forming of sustainable city districts and

processes is very much in place. The district is Hovinbyen,

ultimately cities themselves. 58


Returning to Ellen de Vibe’s first point, ’Uncontrollable

of communicating it. Dialogue holds the key to this by

futures require an incremental and flexible strategy,’ where

giving us the opportunity as parts of the system to speak in

she emphasised the need for flexibility. If we continue to

terms of and with the whole of the system.

use a form of communication that is embedded in rigidity,

The inclusion of people that have the knowledge,

how can we expect to change what we ultimately create?

skills and confidence about dialogue processes in urban development teams is going to become an even more

How do we change our culture of

essential role than it arguably already is.

communication in urban development processes?

It’s all about risks and relationships.

The change is already underway. User involvement groups,

When we explore through dialogue we naturally gain

service design and architecture combining with social

more information about ourselves, our situations, and the

science are just some examples of positive trends that we

world around us than we would have through debate. More

are seeing in urban design. Bottom up initiatives in urban

information leads to more knowledge, and more knowledge

development are breaking the mould of more traditional

gives us a greater awareness of project risks whilst at

processes and challenging the established control systems

the same time we are building robust teams of people.

that have long been in place. One such example is the

Dialogue brings people together because it communicates

Bottom up initiatives in urban development are breaking the mould of more traditional processes and challenging the established control systems that have long been in place. Baugruppen movement in Berlin where citizens are

from a foundation of shared values, the most important

rejecting rent increases and then forming cooperative

one of which is the shared pursuit of ‘Truth’. When we use

organisations, thus becoming the project owners of their

this as our lodestar it frees us up to bring our experience

own collective developments. Increased social cohesion

to the table and to communicate in a way that benefits

is one of many positive ripple effects of the bottom up

everybody involved. This gives us a better quality of


knowledge because it has been explored more fully, beyond

Berliners are creating their own opportunities to

the mere fragments of concepts or mechanistic processes

‘build’ the city they themselves want to see, but this is also

and bringing in the whole picture to the greatest extent

a credit to local authorities, who are encouraging citizen

that is understandable.

involvement and acknowledge it as a relevant voice to the

Though we may never be able to grasp the

public dialogue over how the city should be developed.4

‘Truth’ (whatever that is) in its entirety, we can at least

With more and more people becoming involved in

acknowledge the limitations of our individual perceptions

pioneering bottom up projects and taking on the system

and interpretations of this truth, and allow a greater

machinery of the top down processes, the potential for

understanding to emerge from the melding of our

conflict and never-ending disagreement is on the increase.

collective and creative intelligence. This is the gift of

Perhaps the route towards dialogue is being forced upon

dialogue: acknowledging our limitations so that they can

us rather than it being a free choice? In any event we

help us break through the limits that we currently have to

have not only to change the conversation, we have to

live and work under the influence of, ultimately, producing

change the nature of the conversation and that has to be

better quality and more attractive projects that people want

done consciously, willingly and emphatically. We need a

to see and be part of as part of their reality.

common language for collaborative knowledge and a mode 59


REFERENCES 1 Massive Small. 2015. “Massive Small Declaration.” Massive Small. Accessed January 5, 2016. http://www.massivesmall. com/declaration/ 2 Wikipedia. 2015. “Definition of dialogue.” Wikipedia. Accessed January 5, 2016. 3 Wikipedia. 2015. “Definition of debate.” Wikipedia. Accessed January 5, 2016. 4 Ellen de Vibe (Director of the Agency for Planning and Building Services). 2015. Closing speech. Hovinbyen: International Conference Reclaiming the Inner City, Oslo, 19-20 March 2015. 5 Pådriv. 2015. “Hvorfor være med i Pådriv.” Accessed January 5, 2016. 6 Engler, Dieter H. 2015. “Berlin: transforming the city around behavioural changes.” La Fabrique de la Cité. Accessed January 5, 2016. around_the_ways_it_is_used.htm 60

Cities, Infrastructure and Nature: A Vision for Urbanism


Traditionally, urban infrastructure projects have sought to “resist, control and subvert natural forces” in order to service social needs. But what if an entirely different— even opposite—approach is what is needed to ensure that as cities grow they can be made safe, resilient and inclusive? This article explores ‘landscape infrastructure,’ an emerging area of theory and practice, and the possibilities it offers for the delivery of a sustainable urban vision...



The increasingly rapid pace and ever increasing scale of

Urbanists Neil Brenner and Christian Schmidt argue

urban expansion occurring across the globe calls for a

that the prevailing horizontal patterns of urbanization

careful examination of the vision outlined by the U.N.

have rendered the old models of the city “obsolete as an

for the cities of the future. One might seek to break

analytical tool in social science�, as even the areas which

down the challenge in this issue of Tvergastein - of

fall well outside of traditional city cores have become

understanding how cities are made - and begin the process

integral parts of the urban fabric.1 Every city across the

by looking at how cities are defined, how cities work, and

world has become increasingly connected to the global

how they evolve in the complex processes understood

economies and communications networks which facilitate

as urbanization. Landscape architecture, a professional

the transportation of materials, goods, and people, and are

practice that is traditionally associated with the design of

subject to the larger patterns of both climate and culture

private gardens, open spaces, and civic parks like Central

to a degree rarely experienced in human history. This

Park in New York, has been working towards these ends

interconnection also works more closely within national

by expanding its field of operation to re-examine the

and regional levels, as cities like Phoenix and Beijing

way in which the basic functions and needs of the city

rely on vast canal systems to bring in freshwater supplies

are delivered through the various forms of infrastructure

for food production, drinking water, and industrial use.

systems. The response to the challenge set by the U.N.’s

These discrete physical infrastructure systems make the

vision from emerging theory and practice in this field is

reach of cities explicitly clear, yet the hidden connections

to suggest new means of delivering urban needs in the

between city and periphery are also as pervasive but more

form of landscape infrastructure; inviting interdisciplinary

easily forgotten in the aisles of supermarkets and shopping

collaboration to investigate and test out not only how

malls. In this sense, the rural-urban dichotomy no longer

cities are made, but also how existing cities can be remade

provides an accurate framework to describe the increasingly

to make them safer, resilient to environmental shock and

decentralised urban regions found all across the globe,

social changes, and inclusive for all community members.

and the broad influence even dense cities carry over larger areas. With modern cities relying on vast systems of service

Defining the city

and support networks to deliver the essential goods and

The processes of agglomeration and concentration of both

materials required for daily life, the discussion moves to

capital and people that occurred during the industrial

focus on infrastructure and its essential role behind the

period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to shape

formation and transformation of the city.

cities like London and New York have strongly affected ideas of what a city is, and how it is defined. These

The role of infrastructure

traditional distinctions between urban centres and rural

When considering either the dense core, or the expanded

peripheries which were even clearer in ancient and medieval

reach of urban regions, infrastructure can be understood as

cities within defensive walls have played a central role

the network of systems and structures that enables a city to

in urban theory, planning practice, and policy. With the

function by facilitating the provision of electricity, delivery

proliferation of automobile use and suburban development

of water, production of food, management of waste and

following the Second World War, this physically clear

transportation services, and also ensuring the safety of

distinction began to evaporate as suburban development

residents from the dangers provided by a multitude of

and large-scale industries began to swallow up the

natural forces. Whether in its early forms like the Roman

countryside surrounding the city. Rather than increasingly

Aqueducts or modern constructions like the three-gorges

dense cities, now ubiquitous forms of sprawling urban

dam in China, the most dominant forms of infrastructures

development compose major urbanised regions make it

have tended to be engineered solutions which have acted to

difficult to determine where one city begins, and another

marshal and control the natural resources required. With


the advent of the industrial revolution, civil engineers took the lead role in creating and implementing new forms 62


of infrastructure which allowed cities to function and

conditions have led to a questioning of these traditional

flourish to scales never before seen. Highway networks,


electrical grids, sewage treatment, and many other types of infrastructure have become so ubiquitous they can easily

Landscape infrastructure

be overlooked by most people busy conducting their daily

Landscape is defined as a relationship between the


physical land itself and the human activity embedded within its history, and can be both read, written, erased,

The success of engineering at solving critical urban issues

and re-written. It works as an agent which meshes nature

of cities have also worked to provide some of the greatest

and culture together in a physically tangible hybrid,

developments in public health during the 19th and 20th

and can therefore be understood as something which

centuries. The classic examples in hard engineering

is both socially relevant and ecologically potent when

technologies of sewers, pipes and pumps delivered a

thinking about urban issues. It is also something which

solution to the cholera epidemics which had been plaguing

is inherently context dependent and defined by process

the city of London with a significant toll on both human

and change rather than fixed plans or a premise of

life and that of the river Thames. Controlling drinking and

separation of the human and the natural. Landscape as a

waste water by piping, pumping, and diverting resolved

form of infrastructure works to recognize the fundamental

the deadly epidemics of cholera, not only saving lives

importance of biophysical qualities and natural processes in

but greatly improving the quality of life within the city

the environment as well as the cultural history embedded

formerly marred by smell and squalor of a river clogged

in the land to provide the basis for design, construction,

with human waste. Many other technical advances

and operation of infrastructural systems over time. In this

made by the practical field of civil engineering have

respect, landscape infrastructure is a flexible and dynamic

greatly improved the quality of life in cities, enabling

system that can work symbiotically with abiotic, biotic, and

communication, transport, and energy networks as well as

social forces, and is established “on a culture of contingency

waste treatment, and greatly improved sanitation.

and preparedness” to deliver services required of it.3

This sort of early example in engineering technique in

Aesop’s fable of the Oak and the Reeds provides a simple

the industrial cities developed into a methodology which

yet powerful analogy to the more traditional engineering

became standard practice to infrastructural development,

led approach for infrastructure, and is suggestive of new

and subsequently extended its influence on urban

strategies for the future. As the story goes, a strong and

development as well. Reaching new heights in the era of

mighty oak tree had grown tall and stood firm during

mega-infrastructure projects from the national highway

the storms which had occurred over the years. One day,

systems and hydro-electric projects like the Hoover Dam,

stronger winds came and uprooted the giant tree, knocking

this approach not only worked well at delivering basic

it down to fall next to the reeds and grasses covering the

city services like sanitation and electricity, but yielded

ground surrounding it. The Oak asks them how it is that

enormous benefits in allowing for rapid expansion and

with such weak and feeble form they weathered the storm

economic development to occur. To slightly oversimplify

while the great strength of its trunk and branches proved

the issue, these recent traditions have relied strongly on

incapable of surviving intact. The reeds and grasses reply:

an approach which works to resist, control, and subvert natural forces with the goal of servicing the social needs

“You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently

of cities. However, as landscape architects and theorists

you are destroyed; while we on the contrary bend before

Kelly Shannon and Bruno de Meulder point out, ‘the ever

the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and

increasing reach of the urbanization, the scale and speed


at which it occurs and the ubiquitous application of these technologies across different social and environmental

The failure of the levies in New Orleans is a modern 63


example of the tree in the old parable, where inflexible and

Making and remaking cities

rigid forms of infrastructure struggle to stand against the

Practical examples have begun to emerge which

increasing winds of new and dynamic challenges brought

demonstrate how existing infrastructures can be remade

on by factors such as climate change. American architect

to advocate for new approaches to building in similar

and theorist Thomas Fisher has labelled this category of

classes of infrastructure as those found in New Orleans,

engineered solutions as ‘fracture-critical’ design, defined

which were designed to deal with floods and stormwater

by a lack of redundancy, a tendency to be highly inter-

in a highly urbanized setting. Shown in picture 1B, the

connected yet extremely sensitive to exponential forms

infrastructural project designed by Atelier Dreiseitl for

of stress common in dynamic systems like weather and

the city-state of Singapore delivers on the promises of this

economy that ultimately lead to catastrophic failure.5 While

theory by providing a new infrastructure based on the

his writing covers a wide range of engineered structures

processes and patterns of a native floodplain landscape. By

from bridges to buildings, the critique is that each project

the end of 2012, the concrete Kallang Channel in Bishan

undertaken to withstand rather than weather has a

Park (1A), which had replaced the original Kallang River

substantial risk of failure over the long term. In a sense,

during the 1970s, was ecologically restored to provide a

the techniques of making discrete buildings and structures

new stormwater system that is designed to flood rather than

to meet certain tolerances and bear certain loads has

just work to drain the water, and is capable of holding

been extended to complex and interconnected networks

many times the volume of the previous system(1C).

of service providing systems. Rather than the rigid tree, landscape infrastructures are proposed here to stand in and

Not only is this project contingent on the prospect of

take the place of the reeds in Aesop’s fable, flexible in the

flooding, but its ecological sensitivity allows it to exceed

face of unforeseen circumstances and expectant of extreme

the capacity of the former system not just in dealing with


water volume, but in providing treatment of water quality

PHOTO 1A: Pre-existing mono-functional infrastructure. Photo ©Neil Howard 2007. 64

PHOTO 1B: Multi-functional infrastructure. Photo: Pagodashophouse.

PHOTO 1C: New Kallang river flooding safely. Photo: Pagodashophouse. 65


through passive filtration and bio-remediation. At the same

skyscrapers, low-rise sprawl, or palm-shaped islands of

time, the infrastructure itself is opened to the public as a

dredged sand, contribute to their surroundings rather than

surface and space for people to interact with, and invites

just require further strain upon its resources. The existence

members of the greater ecological community back into

of the city as it is today, where just one single building like

the park. This project illustrates how urban form and social

the Burj Dubai uses nearly one million litres of water per

patterns of activity in cities can be successfully layered upon

day, is a shining example of what is technically possible and

biophysical structures of the landscape to synthesize the

at the same time raises dark questions of risks for its citizens

urban and the natural while still providing essential services

which consume an average of 500L per day of water in a

with robust, resilient, and multifunctional infrastructure.

desert climate.6 The current infrastructural response has put in place natural gas power generation to power the

The antithesis of this approach has been witnessed in many

desalinization process which supply 99% of the daily water

cities to varying degree, yet can be seen in crystallized

needs, and then installed the pumping and distribution

form in Dubai, where the latest urban developments like

networks to deliver water across the city. Despite this, the

the Palm Jumeira (shown in Figures 2a and 2b) impose a

depletion of ground water by underground aquifers across

formal structure upon the landscape that inherits none of

the UAE is triple the rate it is replenished at naturally.7

the history, culture, and has no relevance to the ecological parameters of the area. This type of development imposes

As a case study for fracture-critical design, if any one of

a will for particular formal structures and models of

these components experiences even a temporary disruption,

urbanization rather than a willingness to examine the

the affected areas of the city will not only be inhospitable

context in which the city itself is situated and develop

but deadly as exterior temperatures alone reach 50 degrees

appropriate strategies. While the purpose here is not to

Celsius during the daytime. While back-up generators and

say that new kinds of settlements and landforms can’t be

reservoirs might solve problems temporarily, if subjected to

developed, it is necessary to challenge the principles and

more serious disruptions such as change in the economic

practices they employ. It is extremely difficult to argue

climate or depletion of remaining groundwater, the

that the urbanization of Dubai, whether in the form of

expensive operating capacity of the cities infrastructure

PHOTO: 2A Palm Jumeira. Photo Richard Schneider.



PHOTO: 2B Disconnected urban form. Photo Alexander Heilner.

will be exposed to catastrophic failure. As Pierre Belanger

Rather than basing strategies on complex mechanical

notes, “for all its accuracy and precision, civil engineering is

technology, the infrastructure is determined by careful

actually handicapped by an exclusive reliance on efficiency

reflection on the context of the surroundings.

at the expense of other, equally important social, spatial, ecological factors”8. It seems then, that Dubai provides

This approach of using landscape itself as a form of

justification for looking beyond what is technically

urbanism has also recently been applied by Turenscape

possible, for a more prudent urban plan.

for the land use plans of Beijing, and through analysis in the coastal urban area of Taizhou. Like the plan for

Examples for another approach to building new cities

Wulijie, the analysis for new infrastructure across Taizhou

has emerged in China with the work of landscape

aims to capitalize on natural assets of the landscape while

architect Kongjian Yu and his firm Turenscape, which

addressing the very serious threats of flooding for which

has been working with the Chinese government on many

the area is prone to during monsoon season. Rather than

projects including the development of a new city for

separate the water from the city as a means of controlling

100,000 people called the Wulijie eco-town, in central

risks and providing services, the proposal creates networks

China. Shown in Figure 3a, the plan for the new 10km²

of canals throughout the entire urban fabric which guide

development is based on “integrating various natural

the river to flood the city, expecting the monsoon waters to

and cultural processes to frame the city and provide

come but directing, rather than controlling them. On a

diverse ecosystem services for residents. Integration and

regional scale, the identification of patterns of development

connectivity of natural, biological and cultural processes

and flows of water can lead to inventive solutions that

are central to the project.”9 In this case of designing a

work to address multiple problems. In this case, averting

completely new city, it is the landscape itself which directs

the risks of flooding can be accompanied by providing

the approach to urbanism to deliver not only public space

the opportunity to treat water and improve water quality

and urban form, but a more cost-effective, resilient, and

for drinking while recharging underground aquifers

robust infrastructure that serves and secures the city itself.

which have been under great pressures of over-use and 67


PHOTO: 3A The masterplan of the new city: landscape leads the way as an alternative approach to urbanism. ŠTurenscape

contamination across China.10 Not only does this form

landscape architect, policy advisor, or project manager,

of landscape infrastructure greatly exceed the functional

this paper has put forward an argument for considering

capacity of traditional methods, it also works across scales

how landscape can be used as a framework, both

to recognize the amorphous forms that modern city-regions

theoretically and practically. The project in building and

have taken, making them safer, more sustainable, resilient

re-building cities can benefit from using landscape as a

and inclusive for cultural and ecological communities.

means for developing ecological and social sensitivity to their context. In the case of the landscape infrastructure

From projects to policy?

projects mentioned, landscape has framed a methodology

The vision put forward by the United Nations should be

for investigation followed by collaborative and creative

clear about the problems of thinking about cities as well

problem solving that fully engaged the skills of engineers,

defined entities, and paint a better picture of the modern

designers, and builders. What may be especially interesting

city-regions where nature and culture are intertwined both

for readers of Tvergastein is to question how landscape

within, and well beyond the city. Designing infrastructure

infrastructure projects such as those covered here might

solutions that move towards the goals outlined by the

work to inform the development of policy and planning

U.N. should foster new methodologies and approaches

frameworks to new or changing cities where guidance for

to problem solving rather than imposing a set of specific

such visions doesn’t yet exist.

techniques and technologies. Whether one works as a



REFERENCES 1 Brenner, Neil and Christian Shmid. 2011. “Planetary Urbanization” in Urban Constellations, 10-14. Accessed December 20, 2015 2 de Meulder, Bruno and Kelly Shannon. 2014. “Emerging Practices and Age Old Traditions.” In Water Urbanisms East 2014, edited by Bruno de Meulder & Kelly Shannon. Chicago: Park Books. Page 4. 3 Belanger, Pierre. 2010. “Redefining Infrastructure,” in Ecological Urbanism, edited by Mohsen Mostafavi and Gareth Doherty. Baden: Lars Muller Publishers. Page 345. 4 Aesop. The Oak and the Reeds (Internet Classics Archive at M.I.T., 2009), Accessed 20 Dec. 2015 edu/Aesop/fab.2.2.html 5 Fisher, Thomas. 2009. “Fracture Critical,” in Places Journal, October 2009. Accessed 20 Dec. 2015 https://placesjournal. org/article/fracture-critical/ 6 Solomon, Erika. 2016. “As Tiny UAE’s Water Tab Grows, Resources Run Dry” in Reuters. Last modified January 2, 2016. 7 Alsharhan, Abdulrahman S. and Zein S. Rizk. 2003. “Water Resources in the United Arab Emirates.” in Water Resources Perspectives: Evaluation, Management and Policy, edited by A.S. Alsharhan and W.W. Wood. Pages 245-64 8 Belanger, Pierre. 2013. “Landscape Infrastructure: Urbanism Beyond Engineering”, Accessed 28 Nov. 2015 9 Yu, Kongjian. 2014. “Chinas Water Crisis – Projects Leading Policy: Water Urbanism Across Scales.” in Water Urbanisms East 2014, edited by Bruno de Meulder & Kelly Shannon. Chicago: Park Books. Page 23 10 Ibid p. 24 Additional photo credit “Kallang River at Bishan Park” by Pagodashophouse - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://


Your Neighborhood Blackbird:



Urbanization and city structures do not only affect the human population. In the following article, the blackbird’s adaptation to and utilization of the human built environment is examined. The laws of nature, however, are not totally forgotten.



Urban areas are growing and their ecosystems are

we can often see them scavenging through rubbish. A

becoming increasingly important in ecological research

good rubbish bin is a valuable asset that is needed all the

and conservation management. These ecosystems are

time. Therefore, urban blackbirds maintain their territories

highly dynamic and in constant evolution. New species

throughout the whole year, whereas forest ones only do so

steadily invade cities and those that already occupy these

during the nesting season. As a result, we can see blackbirds

ecosystems have to learn to live together with the new

fighting and singing (territorial behavior) in the city during

species. Therefore, the success of a species in an urban area

autumn and winter too.

is determined by mutualism, competition and predation,

But the rubbish bin is not the only human creation used

as well as preadaptations for living in cities. It creates an

by blackbirds in the city. Clearly shining street lamps are

evolutionary laboratory all around us.

another. In Central Europe, the best males occupy the brightest lamps from the beginning of the nesting season.

Species that are successful in urban habitats and whose

The amount of light influences the breeding behavior of

abundance in towns exceeds numbers in natural biotopes

birds as males normally start to sing to attract females at

are called “urban exploiters”. One of the most typical

dawn. At the whole bird community level, this results in

European urban exploiters among birds is the blackbird

all species singing early in the morning and ornithologists

(Turdus merula). Its synurbanization started in Western

can go out and find which species are present. Each species

Europe at the beginning of the 19th century and its density

starts singing at a different threshold of light, but within

in urban areas has outgrown its numbers in the woods since

a species, the first singers are the most successful breeders.

the middle of the 20th century.

Blackbirds have found a way around the natural sunrise

Only a few species are able to adapt to more human-made conditions and the blackbird is one of them. The blackbird is originally a forest bird. It started its

and compete for street lamps where there is enough light

conquest of cities in a comparable environment – parks and

during the whole night. They can start to attract a partner

cemeteries. But as other species try to live in these spaces

at 2 or 3 AM; as a bonus, we can now admire their musical

as well, the competition becomes quite high. Only a few

abilities during our trip home from a party. This is another

species are able to adapt to more human-made conditions

difference between the forest and urban blackbirds.

and the blackbird is one of them. It started to occupy

However, there could be a great variability among different

residential areas with fewer and fewer trees and nowadays it

parts of a city. For example, birds in lit housing estates

is able to thrive in urban and residential developments with

could sing through the whole night, unlike the ones

only a few shrubs. It has come a long way from the woods.

living in dark parks. Moreover, the street lights enable an extension of the nesting season to up to six months

The urban population of the blackbird has differentiated

(February – July) compared to four in the forests (April

noticeably from the forest norm. One distinction is

– July) in South and Central Europe because the light

migration behavior. In most parts of Europe, forest

conditions for the outset of the mate-attracting behaviors

blackbirds migrate south during winter, but the urban

are better in the city.

ones stay in the city. This is because cities have a warmer climate than rural areas and blackbirds have changed their

Yet the city is not all paradise for the blackbird.

diet – they have become accustomed to human food and

Predators are among the new inhabitants of cities as well, 71


Credit: Fountain. By Russellstreet, used under CC BY-SA 2.0.

which causes problems by changing the prey-predator

composition, and subsequently in predation pressure, is

equilibrium. There are two possible scenarios. Because of

exhibited among cities and across a gradient of increasing

the lack of natural predators in urban biotopes, we can


observe a lower predation rate in towns than in more

This is exactly what has happened to blackbirds. Their

natural habitats (safe zone hypothesis). Conversely, urban

abundance in cities has been falling since the 1980s. High

habitats may suffer from a higher predation rate. This

nest predation, mainly by corvids (commonly known as

could be due to higher abundances of some predators that

the crow family), is the most frequently asserted reason.

lack natural enemies in these habitats (e. g. there are some

The increasing number of corvids, mainly magpies, is

martens in urban areas but no wolves regulating them,

noticeable in towns throughout all of Europe and these

so called mesopredator release hypothesis); alternatively low

nest predators can strongly influence passerine (perching

species diversity has led to a situation in which predators

birds) populations. Corvids are known as intelligent birds

are able to learn more effectively where to find prey

that use “searching imagination�, a mental tool that helps

because of less variability in possible locations where prey

them find places where prey will most likely be present.

naturally occur. It is quite difficult to adapt generally

This means, for example, that they look for blackbird nests

to the predation pressure because urban areas represent

in dense coniferous trees, rather than in deciduous shrubs

heterogeneous units isolated from each other. Therefore,

where nests are less hidden but there are fewer of them.

a considerable variability in predators’ community 72


The clash of these two species started an interesting

close interaction with humans. This whole process took

evolutionary race coined the Red Queen’s Race. To maintain

only 20 years in the Czech Republic.

equilibrium in numbers, both species must rapidly

Originally, the high predation pressure in parks caused

change their behavior. Blackbirds have a tendency to nest

by the presence of diverse predator communities pushed

in coniferous trees and shrubs. Magpies focused their

the blackbirds closer to human and built environments

search in these places. Blackbirds began to nest more

where nearly no predators were. However, dwelling in

often in deciduous shrubs where, although the nests are

residential estates has been no more successful as avian

more visible, magpies hadn’t yet foraged for prey. As a

predators of open landscapes also adapted and invaded

consequence, magpies gradually changed their searching

these areas. Species suffering from such traps could defend

imagination and the predation pressure on nests in

themselves by utilizing different or rare nest sites as a means

deciduous species started to increase. Blackbirds tried to

to preventing nest predators from being able to direct their

escape again, this time building nests on buildings, mainly

search to a certain type of site. Blackbirds tried to escape

balconies. Again, magpies followed. Then blackbirds started

on to buildings and, for the time being, in to buildings. It

to nest inside of the buildings, in basements and pram

is really the safest place for them at the moment, but for

rooms. This is their small victory nowadays. Nevertheless,

how long?

magpies will surely find a way to overcome a fear of such


The Potential of Emotional Energy and Mindfulness to Expand Sustainable Consumption Practices


Cities often represent convenient and high consumptive lifestyles, but some “interaction rituals� have the possibility to foster mindfulness and sustainable social practices that bring contentment and a strong sense of well-being, allowing people to step away from the high consumptive norm. This paper looks at three specific interaction rituals that are documented to foster mindfulness: body movement activities; time spent in nature or outside; and social events with friends and family.




symbols of social relationships that support standards of

Sustainability science scholars increasingly argue that

morality tied to sustainable consumption.7 We argue that

reconfiguring social context will be far more important to

this reinforcement between social relationships and morality

foster and induce sustainable social practices than appealing

can have intended and unintended positive consequence for

to individual values as tied to morality and guilt, or waiting

sustainable consumption.

on knowledge or charismatic leadership to spur sustainable social practices.1,2,3 Recent scholarship on sustainable

Interdependencies in lifestyle and sustainable

consumption suggests that triggers are necessary within

consumption practices

social contexts to shift thinking and behavior, as it is this

To explain further, we reverse a question commonly asked by

rethinking and shifting that reconfigures daily routines

sustainable consumption scholars. Instead of asking, “how


in particular spaces. This paper addresses the notion of

can emotional energy tied to social practices of sustainable

embedding sustainable social practices in current trends of

consumption be scaled up in cities (especially those in highly

health and wellness, common in cities, that are attracting a

industrialized countries) to further sustainable consumption

strong following in North America and Europe. These trends

practices?”, we ask: “What emerging social practices linked

are not necessarily linked to “sustainable consumption” per

to emotional energy can be connected, or piggybacked

se but can be compatible and consistent with sustainable

onto sustainable consumption practices to further those

consumption, particularly around reducing consumption

practices’ appeal?” Schor suggests that a key element of

in the areas of low quality food, health care costs, unneeded

sustainable lifestyles is adopting a life of plenitude, one

transportation costs, and reduced transaction costs in

where people reclaim time “to invest in ecological restorative

creating local public goods.

activities and create opportunities to replenish the human connections that were depleted…”8. If this is the case, then

Emotional energy and mindfulness

as sustainable consumption scholars we need to broaden our

In a recent paper, Spargaaren argues for linking emotional

understanding of the place of sustainable practices in people’s

energy, or a collective sense of enthusiasm, through face-to-

lives. Particularly we should aim to include health and

face rituals of interaction.5 These rituals of interaction have

wellness research that points to lifestyle habits that provide

the potential to guide individuals to deliberately pursue an

emotional energy, mindfulness, and thereby confidence to

alternate set of behaviors. Similarly, Hobson argues that we

live a more deliberate life of plentitude. Furthermore, Shove

must examine how people interact with each other to see

and Pantzar emphasize that to understand sustainable social

the linkages between discursive processes and individuals’

practices, we as scholars must recognize the relationship

abilities to question their lifestyles and make changes

between homegrown activities in specific local cultures and


to them. This paper suggests expanded scholarship on

their effects on uptake of alternative behaviors that support

interaction rituals, or patterns of collective behavior for two

sustainable consumption.9 This orientation embraces what

reasons. First, as a mechanism to enhance mindfulness. Such

Dolan refers to as the “interdependencies” of consumption

mindfulness, we maintain, can facilitate deliberately chosen

practices, which embody relations between individuals. It is

action for alternative consumption habits. Secondly, we

these relations, or rituals of interaction, in which potential

argue that certain interaction rituals can embolden people

for emotional energy most importantly lie.10

to seek out interaction that fosters a sense of well-being, and

Sustainable lifestyles are a laudable goal, but in

thereby can help people sidestep the short-term gratification

this paper we ask for a more modest step in embracing

behaviors that are part of a high consumptive lifestyle.

scholarship that identifies sources of emotional energy in

Spargaaren refers to “common actions or events” that allow a

current societal trends that can prompt and promote the

“mutual focus of attention” that then foster a “shared mood”,

adoption of different forms of sustainable consumption.

which leads to a group sense of emotional energy that

We broaden the scope of sustainable consumption to

supports ritual outcomes. These ritual outcomes reinforce

recognize the role of reducing waste. The waste we emphasize






here includes a waste of human energy (put toward high

of health and self-efficacy, feeds into a larger possibility of

consumption that adds little meaning or purpose to life),

citizen well-being as a springboard for sustainability and

financial resources (such as health care costs for individuals

collective well-being.

who have not addressed chronic changeable health problems

In this exploratory paper we argue for more attention to

or purchasing new items in lieu of building, fixing and

three rituals of interaction. Those specific interaction rituals

replacing items at household and local levels) and the time

that we examine may be closely related to mindfulness,

of citizens (who might be watching TV, shopping in malls

therefore foster in individuals a greater capacity to consider

instead of working together towards a mutual goal for the

alternatives to mainstream consumption behaviors. These

collective good, such as community work-bees or dugnads).

three interaction rituals are: a) body movement and exercise; b) time spent in nature, outside; and c) social events with

The importance of rituals of interaction

friends and family, particularly those that involve self-

We see people in neighborhoods of cities, each as potential

provisioning and which strengthen relationships (e.g., self-

social change agents who can direct their efforts toward

prepared meals; community work-bees). This paper draws

greater human and social capital that fosters their own

heavily from recent books and articles that take a holistic

resilience, and can enrich collective goods too. This is

approach to daily practices that foster awareness and lifestyles

similar to the argument of Cooper, who in an earlier issue

that are connected to others, to the health of the planet and

of Tvergastein, argued that by reinforcing intrinsic values,

to a more aware, deliberate life that recognizes the power of

there is a corresponding strengthening of resolve to reduce

choices and collective will to change the future.

negative environmental behaviors tied to extrinsic values, such as status-driven consumption and accumulation of

Mindfulness from Rituals of Interaction as


Prompts for Emotional Energy

While the research links are weak at this point, we

We suggest that current scholarship on sustainable

suspect that when people move their bodies, spend time

consumption can be strengthened by acknowledging the

outside, and create experiences, services or goods that benefit

likely connection between the emotional energy behind

their larger community, they are usually not shopping, nor

rituals of interaction that foster sustainable consumption,

eating a lot of fast food, or taking extravagant vacations.

social practices, and the spaces, places and ways in which

We suspect that the positive emotional energy of exercising

“mindfulness” is fostered. Mindfulness refers to a kind

or moving in a way that makes one feel vibrant, spending

of attention that nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and

time outside, and self-provisioning with others, feeds core

acceptance of the present-moment.12 Brown and Ryan

needs for well-being. The happiness and social determinants

explain that mindfulness “enhances attention to and

of health research consistently suggest that those who have

awareness of current experience or present reality”13.

positive self-esteem (which is linked to physical activity)

Conversely, mindfulness is compromised when individuals

and a strong sense of well-being (which has been linked to

behave compulsively or automatically and are not paying

spending time outside) are more likely to choose to spend

attention to their behavior and its outcomes. Wells describes

their time and money in ways that are deliberately chosen

mindfulness as an ability to process information differently,

to enrich one’s life, not materially display status. When

where one evaluates one’s thoughts in a way that allows

individuals are engaged in rituals of interaction that address

circumspection and flexibility, and action is based more on

core sources of well-being, they may be less likely to try to

an attention-focused response rather than reaction to reduce

satisfy impulsive wants or escape their present reality, which


drives a good deal of wasteful consumption. For example,

How is this linked to sustainable consumption? Recall

those people who regularly exercise, especially with others,

that Spargaaren calls for the examination of emotional

may find themselves feeling greater contentment and in turn,

sources of energy that allow participants to have a “mutual

have greater energy to look outside themselves to the welfare

focus of attention” and thereby increased ability to select

of others and the planet. This emotional energy, from a sense

alternative behaviors.16 We are suggesting then that a 78


precursor to “sources of emotional energy” may be greater

features that promote sustainable transportation practices.

mindfulness, thereby justifying greater attention to rituals of

Further, what are the opportunities to routinize exercise

interaction that foster mindfulness, and in turn foster a sense

and encouragement for body movement in schools,

of well-being and connection with others that can be more

neighborhoods, workplaces, shopping areas and civic spaces?

carefully linked to a common sense of purpose, morality and

Alternative transportation (to that of single occupancy

willingness to cooperatively pursue sustainable consumption

vehicles, primarily) can also potentially expose and inculcate


in people a greater awareness of their natural environment, as it may slow people down enough to see more of their

Moving our Bodies

surroundings, and cultivate a fondness for pathways, green

There is increasing evidence that physical exercise, and even

spaces and aesthetics of road side views.

moving our bodies in a way that we enjoy (e.g., walking, flying a kite), improves concentration,17 and improves a

Time Spent in Nature

general and health-related quality of life, better functional

A spate of research, some of it nicely summarized in The

capacity and better mood states.18 People tend to sleep

Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-


Deficit Disorder,24 and also featured in Ecotherapy: Healing

better and perform better under pressure when they 20

with Nature in Mind,25 suggests that a host of benefits,

regularly exercise. Benefits from regular exercise include 21

reduced depression and the lessening of chronic mobility

among them increased self-awareness, sense of well-being

problems22 that prevent people from participating in

and personal fulfillment is associated with spending time

collective efforts outside of themselves. Fitness has become

outdoors. A number of researchers have found that time in

a major enterprise in most developed countries, where

nature reduces stress26,27 and enhances our ability to hold

fitness clubs and employer sponsored fitness challenges have

attention.28 Several researchers note particular mental health

become common. The exciting link here with sustainable

benefits of time spent in nature, such as improved self-

consumption is the ways in which these activities can

esteem, mood regulation and overall wellbeing.29,30

improve mental and physical health, and thereby reduce

The importance of these findings is that there is, again,

health care costs, and have psychosocial benefits that

opportunity to promote sustainable consumption with the

improve cognitive abilities in a way that can enhance self-

expansion of city green spaces and places for green exercise

awareness and vitality to contribute. Mental and physical

(physical activity in green spaces). This is in part because of

health benefits of exercise are thereby linked to the ability of

the increased opportunity that time in nature may provide

people to cultivate self-awareness, and participate in rituals of

for mindfulness. Moreover, green exercise has been shown to

interaction that contribute to their community, the habitat

have numerous health benefits which can augment improved

in which they live, and the sense of self-efficacy that they

environmental outcomes. Similarly, Burls goes so far as to

hold to help others.

argue that ecotherapy, or the prescribed time spent outside

By extension, we argue that greater research is needed

for patients seeking improved mental health, can achieve

in how trends and sites of healthy practices, such as

both individual health (at the micro level) and public and

exercise and body movement, can be linked to sustainable

environmental health outcomes (at the macro level). “People

consumption practices. For example, a study in Toronto,

seeking personal recovery (…) through stewardship of

Canada found that 19% of cyclists felt that their commutes

green spaces, may achieve unanticipated social capital and

were the most pleasant activity of the day, whereas only 2%

natural capital outcomes and thereby meet current multi-


of drivers felt the same way. This suggests multiple benefits

disciplinary policy targets”31. Further, Pretty et al.32 argue that

from designing communities so that they are walkable and

while people may originally join walking programmes for the

bikeable by providing bike lanes, interconnecting streets,

exercise, it is the contact with nature and social networking

nearby shopping, parks, more pathways and cycling lands.

that sustains motivation. Recall our earlier argument that it

All which would make it easier for people to combine

is these rituals of interaction, this coming together of like-

their joy and gratification of active transportation with

minded people that provides the opportunity for a virtuous 79

it is these rituals of interaction, this coming together of like-minded people, that provides the opportunity for a virtuous circle, or scaling up, of sustainable practices by people reinforcing in each other alternative social practices



circle, or scaling up, of sustainable practices, by people

cooperation around sustainable consumption behaviors,

reinforcing in each other alternative and more sustainable

one may turn to the newfound joys and sense of pride that


social practices.

are generated from people’s ability to provide for themselves and create cooperative solutions to local challenges. The joys

Self-Provisioning in Communal Acts

that people find in working with each other, environmental

In her book, Plenitude, Schor provides a good summary

benefits aside, may be the emotional energy to capitalize on

of the potential for self-provisioning and community-led

for greater citizen engagement with collective problems. Key

initiatives to solve local problems to enhance a collective

questions to shape future research and policy are, where are

quality of life, especially for those who are working less,

people creating change in cities, and having fun doing it?

spending less, and creating and connecting with others more. Some of the most important economic research in recent years shows that a single intervention—a community reclamation of a brownfield or planting on degraded agricultural land—can solve three problems. It regenerates an ecosystem, provides income for the restorers, and empowers people as civic actors.34

Can these be places to expand the repertoire of sustainable

Similarly, in Shop Class as Soulcraft,35 Crawford makes

consumption. As social beings, concern for the environment

the argument that we renew ourselves and connections

need not be the key motivator for sustainable consumption

with others by combining the work of our hands with the

– doing things that feel good and contribute to group

sharpness of our minds. Crawford reminds the reader of

well-being may be motivation enough. The practices of

the intrinsic rewards of doing work that is practical and

moving one’s body, spending time in nature, and providing

useful to others in society, which ultimately restores citizens’

for group needs through community projects, may have the

connections with how things work around them, and

potential to link numerous micro-practices to macro change,

thereby improves community resilience because making

as people begin to see the linkages of lifestyle changes to

things work cannot be outsourced or made obsolete.

stronger communities, copy like-minded others’ alternative

consumption practices? Conclusion This paper presents an exploratory inquiry into cultural trends for collective activities associated with positive emotional energy, mindfulness, and sustainable

Myriad and diverse research findings have also

behaviors, and reinforce their intrinsic values of the “good

supported that those involved in volunteerism and

life”. This reinforcement may have significant potential to

community development initiatives have an improved

effect change given research findings that suggest that when

sense of wellbeing.36,37 Staples38 found that volunteers were

an activity activates intrinsic values that contribute to quality

significantly more satisfied than non-volunteers in aspects

of life, such as the value placed on community, affiliation to

relating to their neighborhood wellbeing, in the level of

friends and family, and self-development, people are more

trust within their neighborhood, the amount of social

likely to acknowledge “bigger-than-self” problems and

participation, the common goals and values, the state

take up behaviors to help address those problems.40 While

of environment in their neighborhood, and the amount

the coverage of linkages between sustainable consumption

of people’s sharing and borrowing in their community.

and the social practices associated with exercise and body

Similarly, Helliwell and Putnam39 have found that civic

movement, time in nature and self-provisioning with

engagement (both individually and collectively) is robustly

others is limited in this paper, we seek to stimulate greater

tied to happiness and life satisfaction, and further that, “the

attention to the potential sources of emotional energy that

impact of society-wide increases in affluence on subjective

can capitalize on current positive rituals of interaction as

well-being is uncertain at best, whereas the impact of society-

sites of potential social change. As sites of experimentation,

wide increases in social capital on well-being would be

innovation, large carbon footprints, and strong opportunity

unambiguously and strongly positive.”

for collective action, cities are ripe for fostering rituals of

Again, to scale up sustainable consumption practices

interaction that promote sustainable consumption.

in cities, and find sources of emotional energy to stimulate 81





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24 Louv, R. 2011. The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 25 Buzzel, L. and C. Chalquist. 2009. Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books. 26 Ulrich, R.S. 1981. “Natural Versus Urban Scenes: Some Psychophysiological effects.” Journal of Environmental Behavior 13:523-556. 27 Ulrich, R.S. R.F Simons, B.D Losito, E. Fiorito, M.A. Miles, and M. Zelson. 1991. “Stress Recovery During Exposure to Natural and Urban Environments.” Journal of Environmental Psychology 11:201-230. 28 Kaplan, R. and S. Kaplan. 1989. The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 29 Barton, J., M. Griffin, & J. Pretty. 2011. “Exercise, Nature and Socially Interactive Based Initiatives Improve Mood and Self-Esteem in the Clinical Population.” Perspectives in Public Health. 30 Coon, J. T, K. Boddy, K. Stein, R. Whear, J. Barton and M.H. Depledge. 2011. “Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors?” Environmental Science and Technology 45:1761-1772. 31 Burls, A. 2009. “People and Green Spaces: Promoting Public Health and Mental Well-being through Eco-Therapy.” Journal of Public Mental Health 6:24-39. 32 Pretty, J.N., J. Peacock, R. Hine, M. Sellens, N. South, M. Griffin. 2007. “Green Exercise in the UK Countryside: Effects on Health and Psychological Well-Being and Implications for Policy and Planning.” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 50:211-231. 33 Kennedy, E. H. 2011. “Rethinking Ecological Citizenship: The Role of Neighborhood Networks in Cultural Change.” Environmental Politics 20:843-860. 34 Schor, Juliet B. 2010. Plenitude. New York: Penguin Press. p. 12. 35 Crawford, M. B. 2009. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. New York: Penguin Press. 36 Thoits, P.A., L.N. Hewitt. “Volunteer Work and Well-Being.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 42:115-131. 37 Black, W. and R. Living. 2004. “Volunteerism as an Occupation and its Relationship to Health and Wellbeing.” The British Journal of Occupational Therapy 67:526-532. 38 Staples, M. 2004. “The Relationship of Volunteerism and Perceived Control to Personal Neighborhood Well-Being.” Unpublished dissertation. Melbourne: Deakin University. 39 Helliwell, J. F. and R. D. Putnam. 2004. “The social context of well-being.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 359:1435-1446. p. 1444. 40 Crompton, T., J. Brewer, P. Chilton, and T. Kasser. 2010. “Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values.” World Wildlife Fund – UK. Accessed February 24, 2012.





I denne artikkelen fortel arkitektane Jørn Are Vigestad Berge og Hogne Øye Sætre om mikroinfyll, ei innovativ løysing på korleis kvar einaste kvadratmeter i ein stadig veksande by kan utnyttes.





Seilduksgata 3C ligg i same gate som Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo, og er tenkt som eit studentkollektiv for studentar ved Kunsthøgskolen. Tomta er 2,4 meter brei og 11,7 meter lang. På bakkeplan er det galleri eller atelier med gjennomsyn (og gjennomlys) mellom gata og bakgarden. Som ein serie av halvplan over kvarandre ligg fellesrom mot gata, og tre soverom med eige bad mot bakgarden. På toppen er det felles takterrasse. Prosjektet er utforma enkelt og minimalt, men med gode fasilitetar som studenthybel. Prosjektet er ikkje realisert.



Det er brei einigheit om at berekraftig utbygging av Oslo

Nokre stadar har det av ulike grunnar vorte ståande igjen

betyr fortetting av Oslo, og dei store fortettingsprosjekta

tomrom. Nokre er i bruk, men altfor mange er asfalterte

står i kø. Vi meiner at fortetting i liten skala på dei små

ubrukte mellomrom, og det er desse vi har spesialisert oss på.

tomtene er minst like berekraftig og i tillegg viktig for å

Tomtene er gjerne eigd av éin av nabobygardane, som i dei

vidareføre den varierte og levande byen mellom dei store

fleste tilfelle er eit sameige av mellom 10 og 20 leilegheiter.


Berre eit fåtal av desse gamle bygardane i Oslo er heileigd av store enkeltaktørar, og dette gir rom for ein annan type

Slike små prosjekt vil kunne inkludere andre typar eigarar

kapital enn storkapitalen. Det vil vere pågangsmotet som

og utbyggarar i byveven, noko som igjen muliggjer andre

vert avgjerande, ikkje lommeboka.

typar program og funksjonar enn dei store byggeprosjekta. Samtidig vil moderne og utåtvende bygningar i

Det er viktig at ei slik utbygging ikkje øydelegg eksisterande

tradisjonelle bustadgater vere velkomne lunger av aktivitet

kvalitetar som siktlinjer, solforhold, innsyn, ferdsel eller

som bidrar til ein by som opplevast tryggare og meir

opparbeida uteareal. Vi vil ta dei tomromma som står


ubrukt og utan verdi og fylle dei med ein funksjon og ei meining som kjem både dei som flytter inn og dei som bor

Vi har undersøkt dette potensialet og jobbar med forslag

rundt til gode.

til konkrete løysingar på korleis dette kan gjerast. Vi ser på smale tomrom mellom eksisterande bygardar som

I arbeidet med eldre bygningsmasse har man også eit ansvar

potensielle tomter, og med smale meiner vi ikkje 20 eller

for å ta vare på historia til byen. Desse tomromma har stått

30 meter. Den typiske tomta er mellom 2 og 4 meter brei

der sida byen fekk si karakteristiske form, og dette må det

og mellom 10 og 12 meter djup, og vårt arbeid viser at det

takast høgde for i formgivinga. Eit moderne uttrykk som

er mulig å skape gode rom for bustad, næring, servering,

skil seg frå, men tilpassar seg dei eldre bygningane gir god

hotell eller utstillingslokalar på tomter helt ned til 2

balanse mellom nytt og gammalt. Våre innfyllprosjekt er

meters bredde. Prosjekt i denne skalaen er det vi kallar

prosjektert med treverk både i berande konstruksjonar og


som kledning. Dette er gunstig både fordi det er eit godt eigna byggemateriale med tanke på vekt, byggeteknikk og

Kartlegging av tomter

tilpassing på staden, men også fordi det skil nybygget frå dei

Vi har kartlagt mange tomter i Oslo som etter vår meining

eksisterande murgardene og sikrar ei historisk lesbarheit i

egnar seg for utbygging. Store delar av bygningsmassa i


Oslo sentrum er teglgarder oppført i tida like før 1900.





Langes gate 13 vart teikna for ein klient som ønska ein urban einebustad med kontor for eige firma på bakkeplan. Tomta er 3,6 meter brei og 11,2 meter djup. Med desse rammene enda vi opp med ein einebustad på 95 m2 og eit næringslokale på 35 m2. På toppen ligg takterrasse og vinterhage for den nye bustaden på 14 m2 i tillegg til felles takterrasse for resten av bygarden. Prosjektet er eit godt døme på kva vi meiner med mikroinnfyll, og eit alternativ til dagens bustadbygging i Oslo sentrum. Prosjektet er ikkje realisert.



Eit klimavennleg byggesystem

Mikroinnfyll aleine vil sjølvsagt ikkje løyse heile klimakrisa,

Det er gammalt nytt at byggebransjen står for store delar

men mange bekkar små vert faktisk ei stor å. Samtidig kan

av energiforbruket i verda, samtidig som klimakrisa

desse handgripelige og svært synlige prosjekta vere med på

vert stadig meir reell og insisterande. Om vi skal ha

å sette tonen for resten av byggebransjen.

håp om å nå måla som er satt må vi kutte forbruk og avfall i samband med oppføring av bygg, vi må redusere

Handlekraft og handemakt

energibruken i eksisterande og nye bygg og vi må

Desse særprega tomtene vil tvinge fram alternative urbane

redusere transportbehovet mellom bustad, arbeidsplass og

bustadar; unike, særprega og ikkje minst tilpassa bygningar.


Tilpassa bygningane dei ligg mellom, strøket dei ligg i, funksjonane dei skal fylle og ikkje minst menneska som

Vi nyttar eit byggesystem som gjer at ein kan minimere

skal bu i og bruke dei.

mengda av både avfall og materialar. Ved å ta i bruk eksisterande bygningsmasse som berekonstruksjon

Byggesystemet som vi legg opp til er bygd opp av svært

og spenne etasjeskiljarar og tak mellom eksisterande

enkle og tradisjonelle materialar og metodar. Sjølv om den

brannveggar, oppnår ein eit bygg med svært lavt

tronge bysituasjonen krev fagfolk til å vurdere arkitektonisk

materialforbruk. Samanlikna med ein frittståande

utforming samt brann- og konstruksjonssikkerheit, så kan

einebustad vil ein også meir enn halvere behovet for

sjølve bygginga utførast av kven som helst som veit opp og

isolasjon og fasadematerialar, då dei to lengste fasadane

ned på ein spikar. Vi prosjekterer med mål om at Maxbo

erstattast av eksisterande vegg til nabo.

Sinsen har alt du treng for å gjennomføre din eigen urbane byggedraum.

Ei slik utfylling av tomrommet mellom to eksisterande bygg vil også minimere energibruken til nybygget, samtidig

Dette gir norsk småkapital muligheit til å tre inn som

som varmetapet frå eksisterande gavlveggar vert redusert.

byggherre i Oslo sentrum. Slik kan mannen i gata vere med

Eksisterande og nye bygg vil gjensidig varme kvarandre. I

på å sette sitt preg på gatene i hovudstaden. Om ikkje på

tillegg vil dei eksisterande nabobygga få éi fasade mindre å

lik linje med Olav Thon, så i alle fall mellom linjene hans.


Dette meiner vi er ei demokratisering av byen som overgår dei fleste brukarmedverknadsprosessar i sjølv dei mest

Transportbehovet mellom heim og arbeidsplass fører

ambisiøse byutviklingsprosessar.

til aukande utslepp og problem med rushtrafikk. Eit mikroinnfyllprosjekt i Oslo indre by vil gi fleire muligheita til å arbeide i gå- eller sykkelavstand frå heimen.


The Layering of Urban Planning How does it affect environmental sustainability, in terms of green structure concerns, in compact city development?


One way to make cities able to support larger urban populations and produce fewer climate change-causing emissions is to make them more compact. However, as urban spaces become more dense, conflicts between different planning concerns arise. This article presents the findings of a study conducted by the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research on how economic developmental concerns are balanced against ‘soft’ concerns such as the conservation of green urban space in a multilayered urban planning environment.



Compact city- and centre development has obtained

the attention and influence of green structure concerns in

a dominant status, now being the preferred model in European countries.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5


So also in Norway, as it

This article, then, contributes to the international

combines concerns of economic interests for dense

discourse of the consequences of the compact-city

development, environmental concerns for climate change

paradigm on ensuring “weak” concerns. In order to

mitigation, and political concerns for new dwellings to a

investigate the position of green structure in urban

growing population. Such development is often structured

planning, the interplay and influence of actors and

as dense development around transport junction-points.6

interests involved is important. Norway is an interesting

However, this ideal, while reconciling many different

case, as the country’s spatial planning, to a larger extent

concerns, might also challenge others, like concerns for

than in other European countries, has delegated tasks and

green structure, recreational opportunities and other

responsibilities to private developers.10 In addition, local

living qualities within the city. In previous research severe

government has high institutional capacity and therefore a

tensions have been identified between densification and

high potential to guide development. However, statistical

the economic, environmental and social dimensions of

data shows that the densification policy in Norwegian


sustainable development. However, conflicting goals

cities has reduced the total hectares of green areas by 20

are also found within the different dimensions. The goal

percent the last decade.11 Environmental associations

of reduced carbon dioxide emissions, considered to be

report that “species are exterminated thousand times faster

ensured by compact development, might come in conflict

than what is natural… changed spatial use is definitely the

with green area-protection, local green structures and

largest driver of this extermination”10. We here illuminate

cultural heritage concerns. These are important elements

the interplay between public and private actors in urban

for securing qualitatively good urban environments and

development, to explain why this happens.

climate adaptation. Data

In this article, we want to illuminate the balancing of economic concerns against conflicting goals related to

The article is based upon four surveys given to key actors

environmental and social sustainability, more specifically

in all the 429 Norwegian municipalities in 2013i. These

the protection of green structures and green landscapes. Green

surveys were directed to mayors, politicians in local

structure is here understood as recreational landscapes in

planning-committees, planning executives and developers

the form of parks, urban forests, open areas, lanes and

involved in compact city development. The study is

paths, which are integrated into the built environment.

part of the research project “Handling goal-conflicts in

These areas fulfil both human and social needs for

compact city development (SUSPLAN)”. It was financed

recreation and public meeting places, as well as ecological

by the Norwegian Research Council, and the findings have

needs for coherent green areas, as habitats for plants and

earlier been presented in a book chapter.8

species. Analysis: weighting concerns

In order to understand what influences the prioritization between contradictory concerns in

Conflicting concerns

urban planning, it is necessary to have an institutional

In the surveys, the above-mentioned actor groups were

perspective. This draws attention to the mixture of steering

asked: in general, which interests and concerns are most

logics9 that guide urban planning. These being a hybrid of

often in conflict in densification processes? The figure

judicially binding instruments, market-driven development

below shows the results.

of plans and projects and participation and network arenas

The figure shows that two pairs of conflicting

discussing and giving input. Thus, we ask:

concerns and interests are emphasized in particular. Firstly, densification for economic profit/housing needs

How does the mixture of different governance modes in urban

versus environmental protection concerns. About half of

planning (layers of market, network and hierarchy) affect

the planning executives and a third of the politicians in 91


Figure 1. Interests and concerns most often in conflict in densification processes? Open question, categorized answers, percent, N=97/166/145/151. planning committees report this. This is a relatively high

when formulating the detailed plans. However, politicians

proportion, as this was an open question. The second

find it difficult to know how much they can demand from

conflicting concerns are densification versus existing

private developers, in order to ensure community interests.

residents wanting to preserve the area as it is. This can be

In addition, the transformation following densification

viewed as an indicator of a site quality that the residents

touches upon the place-identity of citizens: It’s emotional because a rural small town who gradually converts to “city” is often hard for the ones who have lived there all their life. This more identity aspect is often suppressed. (Mayor)

fear will deteriorate, as these quotes indicate: Often the neighbors’ expectations about retaining a good living environment (unchanged) in contrast to the developer’s desire for change and where one often wants to squeeze the most into the smallest possible space. Residents expectations of predictability in municipal planning often comes in conflict with unrealistic densificationinterests of the developer. (Planning executive)

Private developers who carry out densification rely on profitability - often in the short term. This is in particular considered to be in direct opposition to the third pair of conflicting considerations, namely densification and farmland protection. This for many municipal actors feels

The most common divergent interests are between existing residents and neighborhood associations who do not want more development versus the Municipalities’ and developers’ wanting more dense development. (Private developer)

frustrating. A mayor illustrates the dilemma: It is in close proximity to downtown areas that housing markets develop and the price level enables production of new homes on a substantial scale. Both we as a municipality and developers adjust to this - which appears to be the most realistic market opportunity. Farmland

As these quotations illustrate, the interests of existing

protection hampers greatly our municipality’s ability to facilitate detached production where developers see opportunities to invest where there is a demand. (Mayor)

residents are considered to be hard to ensure in densification processes. In order to protect community interests, the municipality can regulate and negotiate with developers

The figure also reveals that the planners are the ones 92


who are most likely to experience these conflicts, being

committee—report that it is the developers’ interests and

the ones that have to find pragmatic solutions to the

economic interests that prevail. This is often at the expense

tension between protection and development in urban

of attention towards green structures and living qualities: Development interests are often prioritized in (green) areas that could prevent flooding and where cultural concerns could have been given more weight. The need for green areas is less taken into account. (Planning executive)  

development. Having gained a better picture of the conflicting concerns in Norwegian local densification processes, we will focus on the position of weak concerns below. Which concerns are being prioritized?

The developers’ desire maximum utilization often comes before outdoor spaces. (Planning executive)

National legislations state that green structure concerns and health promotion concerns are important, but the question is if they in fact are prioritized locally. We asked:

One in four local politicians, who are the ones who

in general, which interests and concerns are most often

ultimately weigh up considerations in the final decisions,

prioritized in densification-processes in your municipality?

reports the same. Both the interest of existing neighbors and conservation interests are emphasized and balanced finely against an expressed desire for densification. But the developer interests of economic surplus is a heavy factor in this. (Local politician)

The figure below shows the results. The figure shows a clear trend: a large proportion of the participants who are primarily involved in weighing the various interests and concerns—namely planning executives and local politicians in the planning

Figure 2. Interests and concerns most often prioritized in local densification-processes, open question. Categorized answers, percent, N=97/166/145/151 93





Another clear trend shows that densification comes second

- economic interests and densification. The actors explain

highest on the list of safeguarded considerations. This is an

this by a lack of correspondence between overall municipal

indicator that the official Norwegian densification policy

planning and the detailed regulatory planning led by

has gained acceptance in Norwegian municipalities.

private developers. As a planning executive elaborated: It is challenging to transform areas to be more compact, and keep the existing outdoor qualities. It requires longterm strategic work on multiple levels. If you fail, it leads to neighbor objections from those who have chosen to stay in the area precisely because of these qualities. These protests make it politically difficult to stick to the strategy over time. Alternatively you get a reduction of the outdoor qualities, more private car-use and private car-dependency. (Planning executive)

In sum, Norwegian municipalities strive to balance economic interests with local environmental qualities. Yet, our study supports conclusions made in other studies: that when weighing conflicting concerns, economic concerns tend to be the winner.12, 13 “The mix that matters?” The results presented above sheds light on a persistent conflict in urban planning in general: the conflict between

Such long-term strategic work over time requires that

development and conservation, and how this is even more

politicians commit themselves to their own overall plans

pronounced in compact city development. Areas with rich

in framing detailed planning. Several of the interviewees

green structures and a favorable climate are often densely

considered the main challenge to be improving local

populated. This easily leads to conflicts between urban

politicians’ ability to stick to their long-term master plans

expansion and preservation of green areas.


- as the basis for balanced development. The dynamics of densification processes is an interplay between developers,

The merging of the climate and developmental agenda

planners and local politicians. The developers’ contact

driving compact city development seems to be so strong

(lobbying) with local politicians often results in a lack of

that public actors in many instances lack the will or ability

adherence to the overarching guidelines in overall plans.

to push forward the general, softer concerns. Here we will

As a planning executive stated: The planning administration’s focus on good outdoor spaces, green areas and building height may conflict with developers’ interests. They thereby turn to the politicians. Thus, the ability of politicians to stick to their long-term plans is important to get good processes and balanced development. (Planning executive)

use our theoretical starting point to ask how the layering of urban planning can explain these prioritizations. We continue by elaborating on to what extent hierarchicaloriented planning instruments are able to curb strong marked-interests by giving direction for market- and network-orientated compact city development. This is important, as democratically elected city councils formally

Statistics on dispensations from overall plans, especially

have the authority to guide urban development. Our

from areas zoned as agricultural, natural and recreational

empirical study has identified some factors as the main

land (LNF), shows that this dispensation practice is

obstacles for ensuring environmental sustainability in

extensive.15 Local politicians in our study seem to be aware

compact city development:

of the problem: Dispensations from overall plans are demanding. The use of political judgment can often seem unfair, while the extensive use of dispensations erodes processed and overall plans. (Local politician, planning committee)


Lack of correlation between general (public) and detailed planning (developer-driven).

As shown earlier, two pairs of conflicting considerations are identified by all stakeholders, namely the contradiction

From our survey, we know that planning executives,

between economic interests versus conservation

mayors and developers all have quite similar evaluations of

interests, as well as densification interests versus existing

the most important planning instruments.8 They consider

residents desire to preserve the area. When asked which

the available plan formats to be functional in ensuring

considerations generally prevail, the answer is quite clear

green structure concerns. However, in practice, it is 96


The merging of the climate and developmental agenda driving compact city development seem to be so strong that public actors in many instances lack will or ability to push forward the general, softer concerns. 97


difficult to activate the overarching goals of master plans

been institutionalized by law.16 Earlier studies find that

in more specific projects. Thus, the private driven detailed

civil society actors do not have access to these negotiations.

planning (development projects) requires a political

Thereby, they do not have the opportunity to channel

leadership that has a will to commit themselves to ensure

their concerns and local knowledge early in the process.

long-term environmental concerns in planning. However,

They are allowed to give statements when the plan-process

our study illuminates a lack of will to take advantage of

formally starts, and to the finalized proposals (before

the full steering potential of urban planning instruments.

political decision-making). Earlier research10,2 shows that civil society associations argue that important professional


Private developers have been delegated the

and local knowledge that could have improved the

responsibility of obtaining expert knowledge on

quality of plans are not mediated into the process. These

green structure in planning processes.

tendencies have wider implications for the legitimacy of

In Norway, environmental organizations argue that there

local planning processes. Even if there is always a need

is a huge lack of overall mapping of green structure; as

to strike a balance between participatory processes and

much as 75% of valuable natural areas are not mapped.18

efficient urban development, a major concern for planning

Thus, knowledge on biodiversity, cultural artifacts and

authorities is to ensure the interests of the general public,

the like is generally sparse. When larger plan proposals

which may imply fronting concerns that are not weighted

are considered, the Planning and Building Act16 demands

heavily by developers.

that environmental and social concerns are mapped. In addition, the Natural Management Act (NMA)

Concluding remarks

demands a description of biodiversity effects in line

We find that economic interests and ensuring housing

with the precautionary principle. However, our results

needs is a strong force behind compact city development.

indicate that this has strengthened to only a little extent

Local actors’ experience is that there is a clear conflict

environmental concerns in compact city development.

between these interests and preservation of green areas

Again, qualitatively good knowledge of the qualities in

and outdoor environments. Further, it is argued that this

and of green areas is dependent on attentive and focused

situation is supported by the current planning regime in

local politicians. But in addition, the Norwegian planning

Norway, important tasks having been delegated to private

regime has entrusted responsibilities for these matters to

developers, thereby giving them large leeway. The strong

private actors. Being in charge of zoning plans in Norway,

position held by private developers can strengthen plan

private developers have been delegated the responsibility of

efficiency as local public administration is relieved of the

conducting mapping of environmental and social concerns

task of producing zoning plans, and the actors that shall

as ordered by PBA and NMA. Case studies show

17, 20


realize the projects, private developers, are the ones that

the quality of the expert knowledge varies considerably,

actually develop plans.19, 21 However, this liberalization

as private and public actors lack adequate knowledge to

demands attentive politicians. They are the ones that in

order such mappings. Environmental concerns seem to be

the end are responsible for balancing economic, social and

dependent on attentive individuals or organizations in the

environmental concerns in urban development.

local community. The result is that significant qualities are overlooked.17 Often these concerns are mediated late in the

This study indicates that the specific mix, or “layering�,9,22

process, when the projects are already developed and hard

of administrative devices in Norwegian planning


to alter. Hence, the protection of weak concerns is fragile.

practice, is unfavorable for green structure concerns. There is a need for strengthening the public grip to


Negotiation practices excludes local knowledge in

balance the important position being assigned to private

early phases.

developers. This conclusion is based on our observance

During the last decades, comprehensive negotiation

of the fragmentation of regulative instruments, the

practices between developers and planning authorities have

fragmentation or outsourcing of core competences 98





(green structure, health promotion), and the exclusion

that there is a need for altering the current balance of the

mechanisms in wake of the privatization of urban

tripartite logics of planning towards its hierarchical and

planning (negotiations behind closed doors, late civil

network elements. This will secure more consistent and

society inclusion and mobilization) as shown above.

predictable plans, a strengthening of the knowledge basis

That is not to say that market actors and liberalization of

of planning as more open planning processes will enhance

planning is unimportant. Rather, the case is that without

the quality of planning decisions and in the end the

private actors, there is very hard to realize projects and

quality of compact city development.

create urban development. Nevertheless, we would argue

NOTES iThe response rate for mayors was 34% (N=145), for local politicians in the political plan-committee 35% (N=151), and for planning executives 39% (N=166). In addition, we sent a survey to developers (1370 businesses registered with e-mail in the Norwegian business register), getting 96 answers. This is not a representative sample, but could be used to indicate how their views diverge from other groups.

REFERENCES 1 Hanssen, G.S, H. Hofstad and I-L. Saglie. 2015. Kompakt byutvikling. Utfordringer og muligheter. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. 2 Hanssen, G.S, H. Hofstad (eds). 2013. Compact city policies in England, Denmark the Netherlands and Norway. NIBR-report 2013: 30 Oslo: NIBR. 3 Næss, P., T. Næss and A. Strand. 2009. The challenge of sustainable mobility in and development in Oslo Metropolitan Area. TØI-rapport 1024/2009. 4 De Roo. 2000. “Environmental conflicts in compact cities; complexity, decisionmaking and policy approaches.” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 27:151-162. 5 Jenks, M. And N. Dempsey. 2005. Future Forms and Design for Sustainable Cities. Oxford: Elsevier. 6 Holden, E. and I. Norland. 2005. “Three Challenges for the Compact City as a Sustainable Urban Form: Household Consumption of Energy and Transport in Eight Residential Areas in the Greater Oslo Region.” Urban Studies 42 (12):2145-2166. 100


7 Neuman, M. 2005. “The Compact City Fallacy.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 25: 11-26. 8 Hanssen, G.S and Hofstad, H. 2015. “Styring av kompakt byutvikling – hvordan brukes overordnede planer til å balansere motstridende hensyn?” In Kompakt byutvikling. Utfordringer og muligheter, edited by Hanssen, G.S, H. Hofstad and I-L. Saglie, 232-245. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. 9 Mahoney, and Thelen, K. 2010. “A theory of gradual institutional change.” In Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency and Power, edited by Mahoney and Thelen. New York: Cambridge University Press. 10 Hanssen, G. S. 2010. ”Ensuring Local Community Interests in Market-oriented Urban Planning? The Role of Local Politicians.” Environment and Planning C, 28 (4):714-732. 11 Falleth, E. og Thoren, K.H. 2010. Byens grønne lunger i klimatider (The green lungs of the city in a time of climate) Aftenposten, 16.03.2010. 12 Falleth, E., G.S. Hanssen and I.L. Saglie. 2010. “Challenges to Democracy in Market-oriented Urban Planning in Norway.” European Planning Studies 18(5):737-754. 13 Schmidt, L. 2007. “For tett?: Fortetting, planprosess og bokvalitet i nye byboligprosjekter.” NIBR-rapport 2007:12 Oslo: NIBR. 14 McDonald. R.I, Marcotullio, P.J., Güneralp, B. 2013. “Urbanization and Global Trends in Green structure and Ecosystem Services.” In Urbanization, Green structure and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and opportunities: A Global Assessment, edited by Elmqvist et al., DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-7088-1_3. 15 Riksrevisjonen. 2007. Riksrevisjonens undersøkelse av bærekraftig arealplanlegging og arealdisponering i Norge Dokument nr. 3:11 (2006-2007). 16 PBA. 2008. The Planning- and Building Act. 17 Saglie, I-L. and Thorén, K.H. 2014. “Perspektiv og kunnskapsproduksjon. Eksempel fra konsekvensutredninger om naturmangfold.” In Konsekvensutredninger. Rettsregler, praksis og samfunnsvirkninger, edited by Holth, F. and Winge, N.K., 165- 184. Universitetsforlaget Oslo. 18 SABIMA. 2013. “Naturforvaltning og biologisk mangfold.” Innspill til regjeringserklæring 2013 fra SABIMA. Accessed August 17, 2014. 19 Hanssen, G.S. 2013. Negotiating urban space. Challenges of legitimacy in market-oriented urban planning. PhDavhandling. Institutt for statsvitenskap, Universitetet I Oslo. 20 Thoren, K.H. and I.L.Saglie. 2015. “Hvordan ivaretas hensynet til grønnstruktur og naturmangfold I den kompakte byen?” In Kompakt byutvikling. Utfordringer og muligheter, edited by Hanssen, G.S, H. Hofstad and I-L. Saglie, 117133. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. 21 Hofstad, H. 2013. Håndtering av “wicked problems” i kommunal planlegging. Lokal oversettelse av målsettingene om bærekraftig utvikling og bedre folkehelse i ulike planleggingspraksiser. Phd, Institutt for statsvitenskap, UiO. 22 Van der Heijden, Jeroen. 2011. “Institutional Layering: A Review of the Use of the Concept.” Politics 31 (1): 9-18. 101



THE HUMAN FACTOR OF LOW-ENERGY HOUSING: An Interview with Karina Standal, Research Fellow at the Centre for Development and the Environment, UiO.


Various types of ecological and smart housing are an obvious part of sustainable cities. However, new technology might not be the silver bullet many believe it to be. A current interdisciplinary research project with anthropologist Harold Wilhite, geographer Karina Standal (SUM) and architect Solvår Wågø (SINTEF) is now looking into how the residents at Klosterenga, the first ecological housing complex in Norway, interact with the low-energy systems. Tvergastein sat down with one of the researchers, Karina Standal, to hear more about their findings, the general importance of research on low-energy housing and the interplay between technological solutions and human behavior.



Klosterenga is an apartment building in Oslo’s old town

them. And of course, if this again affects residents’ energy

Grønland, consisting of 35 low energy apartments. The


aim of the project was to generate good, environmentally efficient solutions for housing in urban areas, as the first of

T: In what way is this human factor incorporated into

its kind in Norway. The development, finalized in 2000,

the planning of Klosterenga?

was built as a demo-project for urban ecology, focusing on consumption and managing resources, such as water,

KS: Klosterenga is designed with a strong focus on

sun and waste. Therefore, Klosterenga offers several urban

involving residents and residents’ behavior. Heating

ecological solutions such as composting, water cleansing

with electricity, passive and active solar heat, as well as

and a communal garden where residents can grow herbs

ventilation through window airing and the balanced


and vegetables.

ventilation system is regulated by the residents. They have to adjust the blinders and the windows in the south-

Klosterenga is constructed using concrete, steel and

facing double facade according to the weather conditions.

bricks. The energy design of the building utilizes natural

Another important part of the concept is the way residents

energy resources like solar heat and the natural ability of

are pushed to visually and physically be in contact with

building materials (such as brick walls) to contribute to a

the outdoors, become aware of outdoor conditions and

comfortable and healthy indoor climate. All apartments

inspired to take action to influence own indoor climate.

have waterborne floor heating which partly runs on solar energy. In addition, the orientation and floor plan

T: What have been some of the main findings of your

of the apartments are also designed to optimize energy

research projects?

use. A double facade with high, narrow windows faces the courtyard towards the south and provides plenty of

KS: We still haven´t finished the analysis of this study,

daylight and views for the residents. The south facade

but some traits are becoming evident. Out of the 16

works as a buffer zone between indoor and outdoor,

households we interviewed, only one moved to Klosterenga

and contributes to the comfort level in the living rooms. In

due to its ecological profile. Everyone else saw this as a

addition to the double facade, heating is regulated through a

nice “bonus” in an otherwise difficult property market.

waterborne floor heating system. The ventilation system is a

According to many of them, Klosterenga stood out as a

combination of natural ventilation and balanced mechanical

good housing choice as it offered medium sized apartments

ventilation. The natural system provides fresh air from the

with a modern standard in the charming Old City, an area

outside, which is preheated in the 35 cm layer between the

where apartments are generally older and of smaller size.

sheets of glass in the double facade facing south. Furthermore, peoples’ practices regarding the use of T: Let’s start with the research project you are involved

the double facade windows, ventilation system and

in; why is research on projects like Klosterenga

regulation of heating showed a large degree of variation.


There was no routine for training, and the responsibility for passing on manuals rested with the seller and buyer,

KS: It’s important to understand how users of such housing

not the housing board or suppliers of the technology.

and various low energy technologies actually relate to

As a result the user knowledge of the systems eventually

their apartments and the technology that comes with it.

became somewhat of a patchwork. Many residents also

Technological solutions are ever more being portrayed

felt that the systems were complicated, such as having

as the way to go for a more climate friendly society, but

to regulate the ventilation in the bathroom through the

for these processes to work, we need to see how they

kitchen fan when taking a shower.

actually function in people’s daily lives, and look into the habits, perceptions and attitudes residents hold towards 104



Technological solutions are ever more being portrayed as the way to go for a more climate friendly society, but for these processes to work, we need to see how they actually function in people’s daily lives



T: So did the residents take an active role in energy

What did come as a slight surprise was that the energy

saving measures?

consumption was not individually measured. This gives residents little control over expenses and as they cannot see

KS: There appeared to be little interest in learning how

how high their total energy use is, they also lack incentives

the systems worked. Many pointed to Klosterenga being

to save energy. It is quite common in many Norwegian

practical and comfortable for the very reason that systems

housing cooperatives to have heating and hot water

were partially centrally regulated, and that heating and

included in the communal expenses and many of them

hot water was included in the communal expenses. Also,

struggle with the average energy use per resident being very

adjusting the heat in such a waterborne heating system

high. Klosterenga is now planning to switch to individual

will not have an effect until about 24 hours later, which

measurement shortly, and it would be interesting to see

provides little incentive to lower the heat at night, or for

how that affects the residents’ energy use and habits.

short trips out of the city. For these reasons, there was no need to continuously regulate the heat or take measures

T: Klosterenga utilizes various materials, functions

to save electricity since individual costs only went towards

and systems that contribute to making the building less

lighting and electrical items such as computers, televisions

energy consuming. To what extent does the knowledge

and the like.

and practices of the residents affect the efficiency of these systems and functions?

Most people also had automatic payment for their electricity bills, fully automatizing that part of their lives.

KS: As I said, there were no good routines for training and

Because of very low electricity bills, few residents actually

knowledge transfer regarding the double facade windows,

took any measures to save energy, in spite of them feeling

the ventilation system or the temperature regulation. This

that this is important from an environmental political

is why there was a great variation in use, but most residents

perspective. Many of the residents also felt that high

avoided “fiddling” with the systems, especially the heating.

indoor temperatures could be justified because of the

The system is not really suitable for substantial individual

energy efficiency of the heating at Klosterenga. In this

regulation in an apartment building with many units, and

way, the energy savings that these low energy systems

there had been examples of the system having problems

provide is often reduced or annulled through increased

earlier. Regarding the double facade and ventilation, the

consumption per resident. On the other hand, Klosterenga

human factor became very evident. Most of the residents

holds other advantageous mechanisms for conserving the

ventilated quite a lot using windows, in spite of the

environment. Due to its central location, the residents

apartments having balanced ventilation. Peoples’ habits and

tried to limit their car use, and several of them felt inspired

perceptions of fresh air made many feel the need to keep

to be environmentally conscious as they lived in an eco-

their windows open 24/7. In addition, many preferred to


ventilate using the balcony door rather than the double facade windows. Still, for many the double facade probably

T: Were these findings expected or did it come as a

affected their choice of moving to Klosterenga, as they felt

surprise that the residents were not more engaged in

that it gave nice lighting in the living room and kitchen.

saving energy, due to their choice of housing? T: Based on your findings from Klosterenga, are these KS: My research has previously been more directed to

projects something Oslo municipality should focus on in

energy systems and development in the South, in India

the future?

and Afghanistan, so this was a new field to me. Still, our findings were not that surprising as most of us emphasize

KS: Yes, I think this is an important part of developing

comfort both when choosing a place to live and in the

Oslo as a city. It will be a symbol of values that are

habits we adapt.

important for a more environmentally friendly world, not the least in a local context. On the other hand, several 106


argue that new insulation requirements will make the new

think the odd housing project of this kind will have a large

and expensive energy systems, such as waterborne floor

enough effect, in addition to the fact that not all developers

heating, redundant. Still, housing such as Klosterenga

can be this ambitious. This implies that we need other

expresses much more than energy efficiency because it also

solutions that will require us as humans to make some

focuses on green spaces, neighborly community and testing

adjustments, for instance getting used to living in smaller

of new technologies. Thus, the municipality of Oslo can

housing units and living in a location that does not require

positively affect a new trend of housing that takes a holistic

us to travel long distances in our daily lives.

perspective towards energy and the environment.

Housing such as Klosterenga express much more than energy efficiency through their focus on green spaces, neighborly community and testing of new technologies. Without a long-term perspective though, the benefits will REFERENCES

be smaller. How training and knowledge about the system is implemented also need to be included and planned for in terms of future residents, not only the first owners.

1 Enova SF. 2003. “Økoboliger på Klosterenga –

In addition, without dedicated board members who

fremtidens boliger?” Energi historier [online]. Accessible

have fought a tough battle for everything from the solar


energy system to the water cleansing facility, Klosterenga


would probably have been reduced from eco-housing to regular housing pretty quickly. If Oslo municipality shall engage in such projects, they will perhaps also need to be involved longer than the initial financing. Of course, one can imagine Oslo municipality as a pure investor or as an institution that awards developers building such constructions, but they should still pose requirements as to how the systems will be maintained over time, and show an interest in the projects beyond the initial stage. Why else should they put so much money into it? T: Do you think these types of housing projects are a solution for more sustainable cities in the future? KS: I think smarter houses are definitely a part of the future, and houses with decentralized energy solutions are very interesting as they change residents´ relationship to energy and energy consumption. I think such large housing projects are a part of a bigger city development. That is why it is important to think holistically, considering for instance the city’s transportation system. That being said, I don´t 107



One outcome of an increasingly urban population is that armed conflicts are moving from rural areas into cities. This is the case in Aleppo, Syria, where the civil war is leading to the devastation of the built environment. This goes beyond the demolition of buildings to “the deliberate destruction of urban life,� or urbicide. Al-Hakam Shaar and Robert Templer, both of the Center for Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery, Budapest, elaborate in the article below.



Aleppo is dying, or rather it is being killed in

driven from their homes. Only 80 doctors remain in the

a very deliberate manner. Shelling and barrel

eastern half of the city, just one for every 7,000 residents.3

bombing by the Syrian regime have laid waste to

Two thirds of hospitals and one third of schools across

vast areas of the city, mostly in the eastern half.

Aleppo no longer function and around half of all housing

The population of that area has been driven out

has been damaged or destroyed.4 In just two weeks from

and the remaining forty thousand living in the

the end of October to mid-November 2015 in Aleppo

east are struggling to survive. Syria’s government

province, two schools were hit by airstrikes, the sole bakery

is committing urbicide as the world looks on.

serving 120,000 people was bombed, over 51,000 people were forced from their homes, and the Al-Ais hospital and

The dehumanization, depopulation, destructuring, detexturing, and most of all the decivilization of Syria, is taking place under the very eyes of either a silent, indifferent, uncaring world, or it may be, a calculating, scheming world that measures its reactions and actions by self interest, geopolitical ambitions and plain undiluted egoism. 1

then the makeshift facility established to provide medical care to thousands was destroyed. Over the three years of the conflict, government forces and those who oppose the rule of Bashar Al-Assad have also caused immense damage to Aleppo. The Souk al-Madina, the largest covered market on earth, was destroyed by fire,

Alisar Iram, Syrian Writer and Activist.

the towering 11th century minaret of the Ummayyad

The Syrian civil war is following a model last seen in Bosnia

Mosque has been felled by a shell and the Armenian

in the early 1990s when the term urbicide was widely used

Church of the 40 Martyrs has suffered severe damage in

to describe the destruction of cities. Opponents of what

fighting. Across the east of the city where anti-government

cities represented – diversity, tolerance, culture and an

forces hold sway, government bombing has levelled entire

endless challenge to the narrowing of religious, political

blocks and destroyed or damaged most homes. There has

or ethnic identities – set out to destroy them. Urbicide

been little change in the front line since the start of the

has been used to describe urban destruction from 1960s

conflict but there has been an extensive campaign by both

slum clearances in the name of urban regeneration to the

sides that has led to the destruction of historically and

deliberate demolition of mosques, schools and homes

culturally important spaces.

to obliterate the history of Bosnian Muslims. It is time to define it more precisely as the deliberate destruction

There can be no doubt that the intention of bombing the

of urban life beyond anything that might be justified by

city with barrels of explosives pushed out of helicopters has

military necessity as a way to erase identity and expel

been to expel the population and the tactic has succeeded.

populations. It is also time to make it a crime.

Barrel bombing serves no military purpose. The weapons are so inaccurate they cannot be dropped near front lines

The oldest inhabited city on earth is becoming an empty

as they might cause casualties to the government side.

vista of rubble and its people and culture are being

Their rationale is one of terror and the expulsion of those


destroyed or dispersed. In a city once celebrated for its

opposed to the regime. Residents of east Aleppo actually

centuries of tolerance and learning, children in dirty clothes

seek out homes close to the front line because they know

go to school in unheated basements. Aleppo is a city

this area will not be bombed.5

divided between fighters and the poor and dispossessed, those who have been left behind or are unable to flee.

Rebel forces have also destroyed historically important sites,

People are afraid to leave their neighbourhoods; the pre-war

either by digging tunnels under them and blasting them

bustle of cafés, souks and restaurants is just a memory.

with explosives or by firing often home-made mortar shells made from cooking gas cylinders into neighbourhoods near

The human cost has been immense. As of late 2015, almost

the frontline that divides the city. In some cases, such as the

25,000 have died and over 1.7 million people have been

Carlton Hotel, the target was being used as a headquarters 109















religious groups.6 But a number of studies have shown that

Witnessing the deaths of your cities is unbearable. Unlike the news of dead people — which arrives too late, always after the fact — the death of a city seems as if it can be halted, that the city can be saved from the clutches of destruction. But it is an illusion: The oncevibrant cities cannot be saved, so you watch, helpless,

damage has been far more considerable in opposition held

as they become ruins.8

by the Syrian military and its militia forces. In others it is unclear why the damage was inflicted and whether it was a deliberate attempt by Islamist groups to destroy public spaces that were used by all members of the country’s

areas and that these have been most aggressively attacked. Destruction of history is the destruction of a community. Comments on social media illustrate some of the divides

The Croatian novelist Slavenka Draculic wrote of her

within the city that date from long before the war. Those

feelings when seeing the Mostar bridge shelled in 1993, an

in the west of the city, the more prosperous side that

event that came to symbolise the urbicide of the Bosnian

remains under tight government control, tend to mourn

war. Perhaps because we see our own mortality in the collapse of the bridge. We expect people to die; we count on our own lives to end. The destruction of a monument to civilisation is something else. The bridge in all its beauty and grace was built to outlive us; it was an attempt to grasp eternity. It transcends our individual destiny. A dead woman is one of us – but the bridge is all of us forever.9

the loss of buildings and charge that rebel groups have been deliberately targeting Christian neighbourhoods and buildings, such as the Souq, that represent the wealth of the city. Some of this reluctance to discuss the destruction may be a result of deep fear of the government and its secret police as criticism of the way the government is fighting can have the most severe consequences. On the eastern side there tends to be a more dismissive tone to these complaints and an emphasis on the huge human

Warfare is now closely associated with cities – Baghdad,

toll of barrel bombs. For some the destruction of the built

Kabul, Mogadishu, Fallujah, Mosul, Kandahar, Damascus

environment pales in comparison to the human loss.

and Aleppo. While battlefields even up to the Vietnam war were generally rural, today most fighting takes place

But the two are closely related. The Syrian government

in cities and warfare is more often about controlling urban

has a long history of massacring those who oppose it. In

resources and networks between them. Cities have been the

1980, some two thousand people are believed to have

focus of sustained combat and are likely to become more so

died in a series of massacres in Aleppo aimed at stemming

as populations become increasingly urban.

the Muslim Brotherhood. The government also rapidly implemented a plan to demolish houses in the Bab al-

Most soldiers and fighters in non-state groups, however,

Niarab district in the Old City, seen as an area of dissent,

are from the country.10 This is the case in many developed

to build a wide road. Two years later the military killed

country armies and is very much so in recent conflicts in

thousands and destroyed much of the city of Hama to

Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Each of these countries were

crush an uprising, establishing a precedent for the current

quite urbanised but most fighters are from rural areas

urbicide. Killing the city was a way of signalling that any

where opportunities are lacking and discrimination is rife.

opposition would be met with what came to be known

What we are seeing is not just a war in cities but in some

as “Hama Rules.”7 The very destruction of the city was an

way a war against cities, particularly by the government.

effort at elimination aimed at creating an utter sense of

The way fighting occurs often specifically targets the key

hopelessness. The destruction of cities is aimed at creating a

symbolic spaces and buildings of cities at worst and at best

sense of powerlessness through the erasure of history, public

shows a deep disregard for the city. Often the destruction is

space and community.

not just about buildings but about destroying a particular way of life.

A Syrian American writer who goes by the pseudonym Amal Hanano wrote:

For a century, international law has moved towards 116


greater protection of civilians and civilisation in war but

diversity, the conflict is likely to start again. Failures to

the instruments available to protect culture are limited

address everything from the provision of electricity to

and enforcement is weak. The Rome Statute of the

the rebuilding of housing in the cities of Afghanistan

International Criminal Court (ICC) defines as a war

and Iraq seriously undermined faith in the governments

crime: “intentionally directing attacks against buildings

and have worsened the continuing conflicts. The deep

dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable

divisions in those cities led to more violence and mistrust.

purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where

Violence created ethnic enclaves surrounded by walls and

the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not

checkpoints and the breakdown in public spaces and the

military objectives.”11 The Hague Conventions of 1954

interactions they foster deepened the divisions.14

and its subsequent protocols12 lay out rules for the special protection of property but it is essentially toothless.

It could be done differently in Syria but only if Syrians are put in charge and the process begins now, even though the

The world is barely in a position to punish war criminals

war is far from over. What is currently important is keeping

for their carnage, as the parlous state of the ICC illustrates

the east of the city alive and supporting efforts to maintain

too well. It may be far too soon to punish people for

pluralism by funding local education and health care. If

urbicide.13 But that does not mean it should be accepted

these are dominated entirely by sectarian groups, the public

without a much fuller response. The global response to the

space diminishes and differences harden, as we have seen in

destruction of Syria’s cities has been timid and ineffectual.

Lebanon and elsewhere. In Beirut, a city of deep divisions,

A no-fly zone in northern Syria would have diminished

urban failure and weak government has lived with a cycle

the capacity of the Assad regime to drop barrel bombs.

of recurring conflict since the civil war formally ended in

UN Security Council resolutions on the issue have been


ignored without any consequences. Only token amounts of money have been devoted to cataloguing the damage

Peace could be enhanced by the rapid and thoughtful

to Syrian cities, protecting heritage or stopping the sale of

reconstruction of cities. The failure to get electricity

stolen objects.

and water flowing in Iraq led to a decline in faith in the government, a process that only ever aids insurgency.

There is still time to do more to limit the harm being done

Public works programs can provide jobs to young men

by Assad. There needs to be much more done to preserve

who might otherwise have to turn to violence to earn a

the intangible heritage damaged by the dispersal of people

living. Getting markets and schools up and running swiftly

from Syria. The world could push back against Assad’s

encourages a sense of normality and enables refugees

policy of expulsion by helping and educating refugees,

to return. Restoring symbols of local identity, be they

viewing them as a resource to be developed rather than

mosques, souks or citadels, is vital for rebuilding pluralistic

a burden to be scorned. There needs to be preparations

identities and creating spaces in which groups mix

for an eventual return of people from the host countries

outside of purely sectarian or political identities. Funders

around Syria. Education could be done at all levels from

should establish a Syrian-led mechanism to organize the

maintaining the high levels of crafts and skills that existed

reconstruction of cities and not replicate the failed systems

before the war to building new capacity in architecture,

used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

engineering, planning and heritage management. The Mongols were among the greatest proponents of When refugees do eventually return to Syria, most will

urbicide. City life must have violated their nomadic sense

go to cities. Cities have been the location of most of the

of identity in some deep way. In 1260, the Mongol army

conflict but they will also be the places in which citizens

of Genghis Khan’s grandson Hulagu, assisted by Christian

will repair their ties and build peace. Unless those cities

Armenian and Frankish forces started bombarding Aleppo.

recover a degree of pluralism, public space and economic

When it fell, they systematically killed almost all the 117



Muslim and Jewish men and turned their families into

did Aleppo survive the Mongols but it endured subsequent

slaves. The citadel was destroyed and much of the mosque

centuries of disasters from earthquakes to plagues of mice,


from the collapse of empires to shifts in the routes of global trade. Aleppo will survive its current tribulations

This was all part of the Mongol way of war. People were

even as the ancient and often reused stones that make up

offered the chance to surrender and become vassals.

its heritage are fractured by high explosives. The global

If they chose to resist, they were destroyed entirely to

response to this urbicide, however, needs to go beyond

encourage the next target of conquest to put up less

the previous unimaginative and often disruptive plans for

resistance. Mongol invasions led to catastrophic collapses in

post-conflict reconstruction and embrace new methods and

population due to violence, starvation and disease. In some

ideas. These need to focus on enabling refugees to return

cases, such as the areas covered by modern day Hungary

home, addressing inequality and rebuilding public space.

and Ukraine, the population was cut in half by Mongol

The Responsibility to Protect, a new doctrine approved by

invasions. In Herat, Mongol archers and swordsmen were

the United Nations in 2005 that puts the onus on states

said to have killed 1.6 million people, an exaggeration but

and the international community to protect civilians from

certainly a figure to inspire fear across the world.

atrocities and genocide, also contains the idea that there is a responsibility to rebuild. We have failed to protect the

But Aleppo came back. The destruction of cities captures

Syrian people; we should not fail them again when it comes

the attention of historians but the resilience of cities

to reconstruction.

remains the more remarkable aspect of urban life. Not only 118


AlHakam Shaar works for The Aleppo Project (, a multi-disciplinary, open collaboration examining the past and future of the city. NOTES AND REFERENCES † All images courtesy of Dirar Khattab 1 Alisar Iram. Meditation on the destruction of Aleppo, Homs and Other Syrian Urban Centers. The Why. 22 May 2014. Last accessed on 20 December 2015 at 2. For more on Aleppo see the The Aleppo Project web site at 3. Aleppo Abandoned. A Case Study on Medical Care in Syria. Physicians for Human Rights. 18 November 2015 Last accessed on 20 December 2015 at 4. In 2010, government figures put the number of doctors in Aleppo at one for each 800 people. 5. Interview with Aleppian activist resident part time in the city. December 2015 6. Conflict in Syria: A Retrospective Analysis. American Academy of Arts and Sciences report. Last accessed on 20 December at 7. The idea of urbicide goes back to Walter Benjamin’s writings on the redesign of Paris by Baron Haussmann. It was revived by critics of urban redevelopment, particularly of historically African-American neighbourhoods in the United States. It was adopted by Bogdan Bogdanovich in his essay The City and Death to describe the violence against cities in the Bosnian conflict. Some scholars have criticised Bogdanovich’s view that this sort of violence was new to Bosnian cities and that urban cosmopolitanism was distinct from the rural nationalism that was said to drive violence. See Martin Coward Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction. London: Routledge, 2009. 8. Amal Hanano. The Land of Topless Minarets and Headless Little Girls. Foreign Policy. 11 December 2012. Washington DC. 9. Bevan, Robert. The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War (Kindle Locations 401-404). Reaktion Books. Kindle Edition. 10. Deborah Cowen. National Soldiers and the War on Cities. 2007 Theory & Event Volume 10, Issue 2, 2007 10.1353/ tae.2007.0057 11. See Article Eight, Two, B. IX of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is available at 12. The Hague Convention and subsequent protocols are available at: ID=13637&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html 13. Martin Coward. ‘Urbicide’ Reconsidered. Theory & Event Volume 10, Issue 2, 2007 10.1353/tae.2007.0056 14. Baghdad was ranked 230th, in last place, in the 2015 list of best cities to live in ranked by Mercer. The rankings are available at 15. See Ilona Ilyes. Rebuilding Downtown Beirut: Lessons for Aleppo. November 2015. Available at http://www. 119


Discovering Hurdal’s Sustainability Equation TVERGASTEIN VISITED NORWAY’S FIRST ECOVILLAGE


Far away from the built environment of cities, Tvergastein travels to Hurdal, where an ecovillage tries to redefine urban living. Kaja Aas Ahnfelt writes on her experiences and interviews Simen Torp, one of the founders of the village.




If you could start from scratch, what would your dream

that is to work with nature, the nature principles, and as

place look like? How would you live? What would you be

some people in our movement would say - the universal

working with? Where would you be meeting other people?

principles. This whole concept is about creating a win-win

What kind of life would you be living?

instead of working against the soil, nature or the climate. It is a friendship. How can we build it up together? In

Hurdal Ecovillage was founded after a couple of idealistic

our society there is so much competition. To me, that just

souls asked themselves these questions. The result?

makes life very hard. Can we not cooperate with it, instead

Tvergastein visited the village and talked to Simen Torp—

of fighting it?

one of the founders—to explore the philosophical and material underpinnings of the place.

He continues: We have a concept that is self-sufficient when it comes to energy and we also have a concept which will

It is the coldest day of winter, and lake Hurdal is glittering

be carbon neutral when we start to produce the wooden

white. Simen walks towards us as we stand outside of

elements here. We can look at all these numbers, but to

‘Fremtidssmia Næringssenter’ - the old school building

me it is about common sense. Everyone can agree that it is

in Hurdal. Soon to be opened anew, it will be the central

better to have an apple tree outside in your garden, rather

meeting point for the village community. It will host a

than buying an apple from New Zealand.

café with organic, locally produced goods and a small bakery with flour directly sourced from the new local mill.

People. Planet. Profit. And Passion.

There will also be a ‘green’ health center, and rooms and

Back outside in the frosty morning, we walk towards the

spaces for artists, therapists, yoga instructors and local

old farm Gjøding, which is now a part of the village. Simen

groups such as the local beer-brewing club. We are given

points out the areas where they grow organic fruits, herbs

a warm welcome, but keep our jackets on inside. Waiting

and vegetables, as we talk about which elements have been

to be filled by eager community members, the café is still

key to the formation of the ecovillage.

unheated. ST: When we talk about our project we say: people, planet, As Norway’s first ecovillage, the place will at completion

profit. And also now, we have added the word passion, he

inhabit between 400 and 500 people. After starting as

says. The main thing is to have a holistic approach and to

a small, idealistic movement in the 1990’s, the village

think about diversity. This is the strength of such a concept

has turned into an ambitious project, inspiring the

- that you can open up and make space for that diversity

municipality of Hurdal to launch the whole area as a

while having a low impact.

Sustainable Valley. Their target is to become carbon-neutral by 2025. In the ecovillage, houses are built of wood and

I think that in the core there is the concept of us being

natural materials. Energy is sourced from solar panels and

social people that need to gather and do things together.

efficient wood burners. This gives them a low ecological

So we think the solution is to get people together: working

footprint, which even includes emissions from production

together and growing food together in a cooperative way.

and transportation of materials. However, as a whole the

This is the idea.

design goes beyond that of zero-energy, low-carbon houses. We are therefore curious to hear what entails a sustainable

He explains the thinking behind this:

life to Simen and the ecovillage. It is also a contribution to

In our society, like in the health industry, everyone is

the discussion on how we want to live sustainable lives.

focused on symptoms: ‘how can we take them away?’ But we need to go to the cause of things. When so many people

What principles should guide the making of a society?

are on anti-depressives, maybe there is a reason for this?

ST: To me it goes back to the basic questions of what it is

Maybe they never meet other people? Maybe they don’t

to be a human being. How can we live a good life? To me

spend time in nature? Maybe they don’t use their hands? 122


I think some things in life should be closer to us. I use

needs watering. Although challenges related to space and

the word intimacy on many levels. Intimacy with nature,

efficiency might be remarkably different in a village of

with the elements, the fire, the sun, the water, with the

400-500 people, the difference in the underlying logic is

materials. Just sitting around the fire is one of the best

interesting. On a more practical level, relying on people to

things a human being can do: it is like meditation for

be active participants might seem more risky.

people. It clears the mind, it brings us together and into our hearts. So, I believe in so-called primitive things, and

Do you find that people take the challenge?

that although we have made it so complicated for ourselves,

ST: Some people do, some don’t. But I think here there are

we are very simple.

more people that really would like to take the challenge... Maybe it is the same at the university? You have some

I believe that if you can introduce all these elements to

students that are very active, and some that are not... this

your life, which you know are good for you, then instead of

is life.

working on the symptoms, you are working on the cause of Navigating the P’s

things. I will say that this is sustainability.

In most Norwegian urban development processes, the An intimate design

need for short-term profit has a tendency to override other

The principle that we should be intimate with the elements

considerations (as seen in the article by Heierstad and

and active participants in the creation of a sustainable

Nielsen in this issue).

environment is visible throughout the design of Hurdal Ecovillage. We have reached the top of the little hill and

How have you balanced the people, planet and profit

Simen shows us the newly built houses. Designed as

elements during the process of building the ecovillage?

“active” houses - as opposed to passive houses, the buildings

ST: I would say that in the ecovillage movement, and

are not only made of breathing materials. People are also

also here in Hurdal, we were OK with the people-planet

designed into the functionality of the architecture. Inside

approach, but when it came to profit we were not so good.

his house, he demonstrates how the ventilation system is

But I’ve learnt during the 20 years of working on this that

to be manually adjusted by the inhabitants. By opening

you cannot put the profit part under the table. You have

and closing an adjustable vent, they can adjust the airflow

to find a balance. So coming from an idealistic, consensus

according to their own needs.

way of dealing with different topics, we have now created a more professional main stream approach. The temperature

People are also encouraged to be active participants in the

is going up in the world, there are so many big crises.

community groups. This can be anything from gardening

We cannot make it too complicated for people to live

or looking after the hens or bees, to doing yoga or

sustainably, so we have turned this concept from being

organising other activities. As community spaces, houses

revolutionary to more of an evolutionary concept, making

and workplaces are all in a short distance from each other,

it available to normal people.

as well as from stunningly beautiful nature, the design of the ecovillage caters to intimacy on many levels.

Simen acknowledges that there have been challenges: There is no doubt that making such changes has been

The approach is interesting in contrast to the more

demanding. Both creating tensions as peoples’ concepts

technology-oriented ‘smart-solutions’ that are more

of an ecovillage has been challenged, as well as adding a

and more often found in cities. While in the ecovillage

second layer of risk involving a large amount of money.

people are encouraged to water and care for their green

When a lot of money is involved, there is a lot of risk and a

spaces together, in the future ‘smart-cities’, public green

lot of fear. This sometimes also creates tensions, and this is

spaces might rather be watered through smart-systems

something we have to deal with.

where sensors in the soil tell the water-system when it 123


Model For the Lucky Few?

Do you think realistically that this is a concept for a

Hurdal Ecovillage had a unique starting point, building a

smaller portion of the population? Or could this concept

community from scratch. In this respect they are different

be a part of cities?

to a similar movement, the Transition Town Movement

ST: If I were to believe in the city concept, I would say that

(TTM), which also focuses on creating a resilient local

you should build five villages to create a city. I believe in

economy with sustainable local food and energy systems.

the village scale. We say maximum 500 people, because it

The Transition Town concept focuses on making a

creates more intimacy. But in terms of the bigger picture,

transition from what is already there, rather than building

instead of having everyone moving into the cities, I think

something new. This has enabled the concept to spread into

it is a better model to have people living in ecovillages

local villages as well as cities all over the world—Transition

close to the cities. But a lot can be done everywhere. Just

Town Sagene (Omstilling Sagene) and Landås in Bergen

building wooden houses, making green houses, planting

(Bærekraftige liv på Landås) being Norwegian examples.

trees and plants. It makes a difference bringing these aspects closer to people.

You are part of what Hurdal municipality calls the Sustainable Valley, but to what degree do you see the

I have chosen this village approach, but I believe there a

ecovillage as a scalable or replicable concept?

one billion other approaches. Hurdal Ecovillage is far from

ST: More and more people are concerned about the climate

some sort of Utopia, but it is people who try to make small

and they want to live sustainably. The local municipality


saw the ecovillage as an opportunity to put Hurdal on the map, as a sustainable place with high goals. And I think

As we walk down from the new ecovillage, white hills on

we are now starting to see some of the impact of this small

either side, this last thought stays with me. Hurdal should

ecovillage. After all these years of planning and preparing,

not be perceived as some sort of a Utopia, but neither

working and networking, following a strong vision, we see

should a sustainable future.

that municipalities around Hurdal are picking up on the idea, like Hadeland, Bjørkelangen, Gjøvik, Hurum. We show that we can focus on people, the planet and nature, and still have sustainable growth with local businesses that attract people to come. As such, the concept is interesting within a larger discussion on how our future cities should be made. Do you see the ecovillage concept as relevant to the UN goal that focuses on the need for safe, sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities? ST: We are part of a movement, the Global Ecovillage Network, which actually is a very big network that works closely with the UN. Many people look at the ecovillages as one of the interesting models that show what can be done at a grassroots level. It can be adapted to all kinds of situations, whether you are in South Africa, Czech Republic, Canada or China.





Habitat Norge deler sine visjoner for en bærekraftig urban fremtid i lys av den kommende Habitat III-konferansen.*


Situasjonen de siste 50 årene har endret seg fra

utbygging av land, infrastruktur, bolig og grunnleggende

1960-tallets betraktninger som «slum betyr håp» - til

tjenester kan danne grunnlag for økonomisk og sosial vekst.

slumfattigdommens «big bang» i tiårene etter. Marerittet

Tross Verdensbankens og IMFs økonomiske restrukturering og

er blitt virkelig i dagens mega-slummer: Cape Flats (Cape

liberalisering, med NGOer i stedet for stat- og bymyndigheter

Town, Sør-Afrika), Sadr City (Baghdad, Irak) og Cono

i førersetet, har det siste tiåret vokst fram flere statlige

Sur (Lima, Peru). De er noen av arnestedene i Pentagons

boligsubsidieringsprogram i mangemilliard-klassen. BRICS

frykt for evigvarende, lavintensive bykriger som ingen

landene leder an (Brasil, Russland, India, Kina og Sør-Afrika).

kan vinne eller tape. En konsekvens av at urbanisering

Men også Angola, Argentina, Colombia, Etiopia, Ghana,

i økende grad frakobles industrialisering og økonomisk

Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Rwanda og Sri Lanka

vekst. Det er en av realitetene som FNs tredje «Housing

følger etter. I hovedsak legges to tilnærminger til grunn. Begge

and Urban Sustainable Development Conference», kalt

inspirert av det amerikanske konsulentfirmaet McKinsey:

Habitat-konferansen, i Quito, Ecuador i oktober 2016, vil måtte forholde seg til. Andre utgangspunkt vil være

Sovebyen. Den første dreier seg om bygging i stor skala

høstens klimavedtak i Paris og «Bærekraftmålene/FNs

av pre-fabrikkerte, standardiserte hus utenfor større

Post-2015 utviklingsagenda» fra New York. Også «Det

byer. Det legges vekt på lave tomte-, bygge-, drift- og

humanitære toppmøtet» i Istanbul i mai 2016 vil bidra til

vedlikeholdsutgifter, samt subsidierte finanskostnader for

å sette byens muligheter og begrensninger i fokus. Det å

kjøpere og utviklere. Skrekkeksemplet finnes i Ixctapalu,

skaffe folk trygg bolig i takt med en tikkende global, urban

Estado de Mexico, med 447 547 byggede boliger, de fleste

befolkningsbombe blir likevel fortsatt hovedutfordringen.

ubebodd pga. av pris, reiseavstand til arbeid og skole, manglende sosialt miljø osv.

I byer verden over, inkludert norske, overtar spekulanter stadig mer av sentrale bydeler. Fattige innbyggere må flytte.

Fantasibyen. I Afrika sør for Sahara, særlig i land med

«Gated communities» vokser i nesten alle land. 14 millioner

olje-, gass- og mineral-inntekter, bygges i økende grad nye

personer mistet boligene sine i USA i 2008. Situasjonen

byer, såkalte «fantasibyer». Det skjer utenfor hovedstedene,

utviklet seg til en internasjonal finanskrise. Spania har nå 3,6

med Singapore og Dubai som modeller. De benevnes også

millioner tomme boliger. I Barcelona lever 130 000 mennesker

som «smart-», «eco-»,«hub-» og «tech– cities». Alliansen

husløse. I det «globale sør» tvinges årlig minst 2 millioner

mellom utenlandske eiendomsspekulanter, som etter

mennesker til å forlate sine hjem pga. slumrasering. Men: i

finanskrisen i 2008 har sett Afrika som en «last frontier», og

kampen om byens rom – tomtene, fortauene, gatene, torgene,

prestisjesultne statsledere med ønske om egne «world class

parkene, jernbanestasjonene og flyplassene - organiserer

cities», blir bare sterkere. Utenlandske, statlige investorer

nye, marginaliserte grupper seg også internasjonalt. Det

med Russland og Kina i spissen, låner ut store beløp til

er lokale næringsdrivende, markedskvinner, gateselgere,

bygging med sikkerhet i landenes råvarer, særlig olje og gass.

søppelplukkere, hjemløse og slumbeboere. Byen kreves

Angola er allerede i gang (Novo Cidade do Kilambo) basert


på kinesiske lån på USD 4 milliarder, mens planer utvikles

Når byene vokser skyldes det også flyktninge- og

i Kinshasa, Kigali, Nairobi, Accra og Lagos. Internasjonale

migrasjonsstrømmer. De største finner ikke sted i Europa. I det

arkitekt- og planleggingsselskaper står i kø for å profitere mens

«globale sør» flytter hvert år 50 millioner mennesker til byene,

investeringer fra de samme er minimale.

som blir springbrett for videre flytting mot nord. Situasjonen er et resultat av tiår med feilslått internasjonal sikkerhets-,

Ikke en gang middelklassen har råd til å kjøpe slike boliger.

utviklings- og landbrukspolitikk. Habitat III-konferansen kan

Den afrikanske utviklingsbanken definerer dem som folk som

identifisere og sette retning på nye løsninger.

har inntekt mellom 2 og 20 USD per dag. I DRC Kongo må

Boligsubsidiene er tilbake. De kommende 35 årene vil

selv de rikeste kjøperne subsidieres av staten. For de fleste er

verdens byer måtte huse 2 milliarder flere mennesker. Nye

boligene heller ikke attraktive: sosial og økonomisk infrastruktur

hjem må bygges og gamle oppgraderes. Finansiering og

mangler og de nye bysamfunnene framstår som sterile. 127

Selvhjelpsbyen. En tredje, folkelig modell baserer seg på

ble satt i ledelsen for utbyggingene uten statlig og folkelig

selvhjelps-tilnærminger i regi av nasjonale og lokale frivillige

medvirkning. Internasjonal forskning har enstemmig konkludert

organisasjoner. I Asia har «Asian Coalition for Community

at tilnærmingen var mislykket med hensyn til å bygge nok

Action Programme» samlet erfaringene til slike organisasjoner

boliger for fattige.

gjennom 25 år. De siste fem årene har det støttet aktiviteter i 215 byer i 19 land. Tilnærmingen innebærer at i stedet for

Forberedelsene til FNs nye urbane agenda tyder på at

å være passive mottakere av andres ideer, blir fattigfolk selv

Verdensbanken og noen land, inkludert Norge, ønsker å se by-

aktører og leverer egne, tilpassede løsninger. 146 større

og boligutvikling med nye øyne. Med en eksponentielt økende

boligprosjekt er gjennomført. 50 000 fattige familier er bistått

slumbefolkning i verden, der halvparten er under 18 år, bidrar

med tomter og bolig. Finansieringen skjer gjennom mindre

ikke minst sikkerhetsutfordringene til at det må tenkes nytt.

byutviklingsfond. Tiltak i mer enn 2000 små bysamfunn er finansiert. Nesten 350 000 fattige familier har utviklet praktiske

En forutsetning for effektive, framtidige tilnærminger vil være

løsninger på nære sosiale, miljømessige og økonomiske

at fattige får sikker tilgang til tomter der de bor. Fjerntliggende,

problemer. Dette er oppnådd med en støtte på 500 000 kroner

nye fantasi- og sovebyer hvor folk verken vil eller har råd til å

per by. Noe er egengenerert kapital, noe er utenlandsk bistand

bo, er ikke svaret. Finansiering – eventuelt med internasjonale

fordelt som billige lån.

gave- og lånemidler – vil måtte fokusere på folks egne organisasjoner og deltakelse. Deres løsninger må betales

Slum Dwellers International (SDI) arbeider med tilsvarende

innenfor helhetlige statlige ordninger. «Top down» innrettede

tilnærminger med fokus på kvinner i Kenya, Tanzania og

internasjonale NGOer bør unngås. Blandingen anarki og

Uganda. I 47 byer har mer enn 12 000 kvinner organisert seg

nyliberalisme, som John Turner hevdet viktigheten av og som

i 2500 grupper. Egen sparing skaper økonomisk og sosial

disippelen Hernando de Soto viderefører, viser seg lite egnet.

kapital. Den utgjør basisen for utvikling av vann-, sanitær- og

Subsidierte sove- og fantasibyer er heller ikke svaret.

energiforsyning. Noe utenlandsk bistand gitt som lån er også her nødvendig.

*Tvergastein is thankful for the financial support of Habitat Norway.

Internasjonal «grasrotbank» på gang. En utfordring for fattige bysamfunn er hvordan man kan styrke


selvhjelpstilnærmingen for å kunne nå flere («scaling up»). Til det trengs økonomiske ressurser. Uten- og innenlandsk

1 John Turner, «Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in

finanskapital har ikke sett fortjenestemulighetene som ligger

Building Environments” (1976)

i sosial boligbygging. SDI tar nå initiativ til å opprette en egen finansieringsmekanisme – «en global grasrotbank» - i samarbeid med lokale organisasjoner i Afrika og Asia. Dels basert på egen sparekapital, men også på mulig tilskudd fra Kina. Inspirert av den engelske arkitekten og anarkisten John Turner 1 ble Verdensbankens hovedtilnærming fra 1972 til1990 med tanke på boligbygging og slumoppgradering at fattigfolk skulle «hjelpes til å hjelpe seg selv» uten subsidier fra nasjonale og lokale myndigheter. Det betød mange steder slutten på offentlig boligbygging. Resultatet ble 116 «sites and services» enkeltprosjekter i 55 land til gjennomsnittlig kostnad på USD 42 millioner. Store internasjonale og nasjonale NGOer 128



Contribu Archie Archambault is a designer and entrepreneur based

enthusiast who through working in and on Vietnam

between New York City and Portland, Oregon. You can

over the last 5 years has developed a probably unhealthy

find him at

fascination for rice noodles and motorbikes.

Kaja A. Ahnfelt holds a bachelor in Social Anthropology

Gro Sandkjær Hanssen and Hege Hofstad are

and is a master student at the Centre for Development

researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and

and Environment (SUM). She writes her master thesis on

Regional Research (NIBR). Their research areas are welfare,

community repair and its relevance to a circular economy

democracy and governance.

in the UK. Her aim is to bring attention to the much neglected environmental and ethical challenges related to

Geir Heierstad is Research Director at the Department of

the full lifecycle of electronics. She also has a keen interest

International and Migration Studies, Norwegian Institute

in all movements related to green transitions and can be

for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR).

reached on twitter @kaja_ahnfelt Emily Huddart Kennedy is an Assistant Professor of Oli Anderson is the author of ‘Personal Revolutions: A

Environmental Sociology at Washington State University.

Short Course in Realness’ and also a coach and mental

Her core research interest is in sustainable consumption

health worker. He runs the ‘Yorkshire Dialogue Circle’

as a civic engagement strategy. Her past research draws on

in Leeds, England and discusses his thoughts on the

qualitative and quantitative studies of households engaged

philosophy of dialogue as a force for social change at

in sustainable lifestyles and her next research project will He is also a remote collaborator for

look at differences in perceptions of -- and impact on -- the

Massive Small.

environment across gender and social class.

Jørn Are Vigestad Berge is an architect at Rodeo

Naomi Krogman is the Director of Sustainability

Architects, and has collaborated with Hogne Øye Sætre on

Scholarship and Education at the University of Alberta,

Mikroinfill as well as other projects.

Canada, and a Professor of Environmental Sociology. Naomi’s current and recent research is on sustainability

Arve Hansen is Research Fellow at Centre for

for the oft-forgotten, the future of sustainability sciences

Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.

and education in higher education in North America, and

A development geographer and consumption researcher

sustainable consumption. She promotes interdisciplinary

by training, his research mainly focuses on changes in

curriculum and research opportunities at the University

consumption following Vietnam’s capitalist transition.

of Alberta, and believes in cultivating an active, engaged

Apart from that he is a microbrewer and craft beer

citizenship in collective challenges of the future. 130

utors Chris McCormick runs the interpersonal communication

Alexander Rullan Rosenlund and Bjørn Inge Melås

consultancy Splint in Oslo. In addition he is part of the

are graduate architects from the Norwegian University of

joint collaboration Urbanformat, that seeks to realise

Science and Technology (NTNU). They delivered their

the vision of key project stakeholders through urban

master thesis 11:59 - 12:00 -12:01 Autumn 2013. Most of

knowledge, business insight and dialogue. He is a remote

the illustrations alongside their article stem from this larger

collaborator for Massive Small.

piece of work. The thesis explored the vulnerability of cities in the meeting with an unknown future, by describing

Robert Nevel is an architect and urban farmer. In 2009

a future food crises which creates a starting point for a

Robert founded the award winning, nationally recognized,

utopian future society. Alexander has co-founded the

interfaith Food Justice and Sustainability Program at

architecture firm Kåmmån, where he works with both large

KAMII, a reform Jewish congregation in Chicago. The

and small city projects. Bjørn Inge is a Lecturer at The

program is focused on transforming unproductive urban

Department of Urban Design and Planning at NTNU, and

lawns into food producing micro-farms and food forests,

lectures in urban planning for architecture students.

growing and donating significant quantities of produce,


teaching urban agriculture and sustainability skills and advocating for healthy, local food systems and responsible

Hogne Øye Sætre runs the architecture firm ´Perfekt

energy, land and water use.

arkitekt´ in addition to being a warmhearted (public) space agitator at ´Ila Arkitekturforretning´ in Oslo.

Kenneth Bo Nielsen works at the Department of

Sociology at the University of Bergen, and also coordinates

AlHakam Shaar is a Holbrooke Fellow at the Center

the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, hosted by the

for Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery at the School of

University of Oslo’s Centre for Development and the

Public Policy, Central European University. He works


for The Aleppo Project (, a multi-disciplinary, open collaboration examining the past

Simona Poláková works in two non-profit non-

and future of the city. He was a lecturer at Isik University

governmental organizations focused on nature conservation

in Istanbul. AlHakam’s interest in Aleppo’s architectural

in the Czech Republic: Beleco, a research-based and

and intangible heritage started in his childhood when he

field-oriented organization; and the Forum for Nature

assisted his renovate a traditional house in Old Aleppo. He

Conservation, an educational and communication

is member of the Aleppo Citadel Friends Society and the

network. She wrote her master’s thesis on the ecology of

al-Adiyat Archaeological Society.

blackbirds in cities, however, her Ph.D. was a big step aside, studying the cognitive abilities of birds. Fortunately,

Robert Templer is Director of the Center for Conflict,

she awoke from this laboratory nightmare and now is back

Negotiation and Recovery and a professor at the School of

in the field studying birds, bats and amphibians.

Public Policy at Central European University in Budapest. He was formerly Asia Director with the International Crisis

Matthew Poot is a Masters student at the Tromsø

Group. He is the author of Shadows and Wind: A View of

Academy of Landscape and Territorial Studies, and holds

Modern Vietnam.

a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and Environmental Policy, from the University of Toronto. With a thesis

Aud Tennøy has a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning.

working with infrastructure and landscape in the Sahel

Aud is the Research Manager for Public Transport, Land

region of Africa, one of the key areas of investigation is

Use and Transport Planning at the Institute of Transport

looking at how design professions can begin to work more


closely with the fields of planning and policy.


Editoria Board 132


Kaja A. Ahnfelt holds a bachelor in Social Anthropology

Erika Heiberg from Alberta, Canada studies Culture,

and is a master student at the Centre for Development and

Environment and Sustainability at SUM. She holds a

Environment (SUM). She is from Oslo, Norway, but writes

bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, Psychology and

her master thesis on community repair and its relevance

Scandinavian Studies from the University of Alberta,

to a circular economy in the UK. Her aim is to bring

Augustana. She is interested the environment and the roles

attention to the much neglected environmental and ethical

it plays in our communities.

challenges related to the lifecycle of electronics. Vendula Hurníková from Ostrava, the Czech Republic, Erin Leigh Dumbauld is from Tucson, Arizona. She is

studies Culture, Environment and Sustainability at SUM.

currently studying Culture, Environment and Sustainability

She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the Masaryk

at SUM. She received her B.A. in Anthropology at

University, Brno, the Czech Republic. Currently, Vendula

Arizona State University and is currently researching the

is excited about urban environment which she has chosen

relationship between individual behavior change and the

to be her research area for the upcoming months.

positive momentum it can have on a community’s shift Sean Michael Thompson is a master’s student at the

toward environmental and ethical change.

Centre for Environment and Development and studies Kaja Elise Gresko from Drammen, Norway studies

how urban green spaces affect citizens’ perceptions of their

Culture, Environment and Sustainability at the Center for

surroundings. He is originally from San Diego, California

Development and the Environment (UiO) and holds a

and holds a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from

bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University

the University of California, Riverside. Sean is recently

of Oslo and the University of Zagreb. She has also studied

returned from Buenos Aires, where his research involved

Corporate Social Responsibility management and Spanish

spending sunny days in parks while drinking mate and

at the University of Buenos Aires.

pestering Porteños for maps.

Benedicte Gyllensten from Oslo, Norway studies Culture,

Seth Townley is originally from Oxford, UK. He holds a

Environment and Sustainability at SUM. She holds a

bachelor’s degree in English Literature With Creative Writing

bachelor’s degree in International Politics and Spanish

from the University of East Anglia in Norfolk. Now in the

from the University of Aberystwyth in Wales and a Master

second year of Culture, Environment and Sustainability at

of Public Administration from the Monterey Institute for

SUM, Seth is researching the dynamics of sociotechnical

International Studies in California. She has also studied

change in large technical systems, focusing on pathways to

photography at Bilder Nordic School of Photography.

sustainable transition in the provision of electricity.


Do you want to contribute to Tvergastein? ISSUE 8: TRAVEL NOW ACCEPTING CONTRIBUTIONS Deadline August 31, 2016 We accept contributions in Norwegian and English in two categories: Op-ed style (2,000-5,000 characters) Academic style (10,000-20,000 characters) If you have a finished text, an old exam paper that can be edited, or simply a good idea for an article, send us an e-mail. We promise you fair feedback and help in the editing process before publication. We are also looking for illustrations, drawings, photos, for our texts. Please contact us if you have a finished work, a sketch or an idea. Stay up to date on what’s happening with Tvergastein: Web: Facebook: Twitter: @tvergastein


Tvergastein is grateful for all the help and support of:



Tvergastein bears the name of Arne Næss’ cabin retreat in the mountains of Hallingskarvet. It was there that Næss, an activist and one of the most wide ranging philosophers of the last century, wrote the majority of his work. These writings, his unique ecophilosophy, and his life of activism continue to inspire environmentalists and scholars in Norway and abroad. In making this journal its namesake, we aim to similarly join academia with advocacy for the environment. We aspire to the ”enormous open views at Tvergastein” and the perspective Næss found there.

© 2016 Tvergastein ISSN 1893-5605 136

Tvergastein Issue #7  

Urban Stories - Searching for the Sustainable City: This issue takes a closer look at the UN's Sustainable Development Goal # 11 - To make c...

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