Daniel Byström is the project manager for Sweden’s Street Moves project at ArkDes Think Tank. ArkDes is Sweden’s national center for architecture and design
Long before the pandemic hit our cities, a paradigm shift was underway. In the century of urbanisation, where cities play an increasingly important role of providing services to people, a change is needed in how we plan and use cities. If cities continue to be places where people live and work, learn and raise children, get around and spend most of their lives, then we need to provide for those needs. Cities need to be safe, functional and cater for the needs of people.
Back to the future
Enter the one minute city. In co-operation between ArkDes, Sweden’s national center for architecture and design, Vinnova, its innovation arm and the general public, this Nordic country has embarked on a journey to turn around the effect cars have had on our streets. Streets used to be marketplaces, even living rooms. Public space is the space between buildings, where for thousands of years people have met, worked, socialised and played. This was turned around in the 20th century with the onslaught of technologies such the private car and modernist thought in urban planning (read: huge flatblocks that required a car to get to and from). The project is about going back to the future: giving back the streets to people.
2030: every street is healthy and sustainable
By early this century, urban planners have gained perspective on past developments in urban planning, they have acquired data, studies as well as tools to create change. With the climate crisis as an additional sense of urgency, Street Moves has started to experiment and change the way we experience and use streets. While many people have read about Paris becoming the 15-minute city – where everything is reachable on foot or by bike within a quarter of an hour – Sweden is pushing the envelope further. In cities, why should people not have everything they need within a minute for a healthy urban life? Outdoor gyms, urban gardens, playgrounds, shops, kindergardens, transit hubs, bicycle stands, outdoor furniture and more – all of which creates a functional and pleasant environment that draws people. The more people we have in the streets, the more vibrant and safe it is. Last but not least, this vibrancy will translate into hard economic benefits: higher turnover for shops and businesses as well as real estate value.
Daniel will talk about how every city can and should provide a safe, healthy and liveable street to its citizens.