ACCESS Seminar: A role-model neighbourhood? Designing, planning, building, and living in a sustainable new city district in Sweden

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  • Wollongong
    Building 29, Room G07
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In 2011, the city of Linköping started an alternative urban planning process to build a role-model new neighbourhood. Architects and developers were invited to compete for land with quality instead of price. In our studies of Vallastaden we have explored how the role-model ambition has been enacted through the planning, construction and present use of the neighbourhood. We have specifically focused on Vallastaden as a home, different meeting places for residents, environmental and social sustainability, and passive house designs. Our findings show that although efforts were made to include a variety of people, the population in the neighbourhood is young and often moved in and out of Vallastaden. The meeting places, for example centrally placed Felleshus (community houses), were not used as expected and the organised activities for residents depended on a few volunteers. Issues with developers not reaching the building quality they promised is a recurring phenomenon in Sweden and are especially apparent in buildings designed as passive houses. The housing cooperatives now responsible for many of the buildings - and residents’ thermal comfort - are struggling to provide sufficient heating and cooling. Several different features in Vallastaden are unique and could provide important lessons for future planning and construction of neighbourhoods, but as an international role-model, only the building design variations and landscape architecture of the two public parks could be brought to the fore. 


Wiktoria Glad is an Associate Professor in human geography and works in the interdisciplinary field of Tema technology and social change at Linköping University Sweden. Her research is empirically focused on architecture, design, housing, neighbourhoods, and sustainability, and theoretically inspired by critical geographies of architecture and home, and science and technology studies. In recent research, she has explored how sustainability is enacted in citizens’ everyday lives in newly constructed and renovated neighbourhoods.