For 100 years, the Western Harbor was home to a major shipbuilding industry located at the edge of the Öresund strait, which separates Sweden from Denmark. The land was originally claimed from the sea to create a home for Kockums, a Swedish shipbuilding firm. When the industry vanished in the mid-80s taking with it around 6,000 jobs overnight, it set in motion a complete transformation of the district into an internationally acclaimed model for sustainable dense urban communities.
The Bo01 district – known as the exhibition area – along the area’s western edge was a neighborhood constructed for the 2001 European Housing Fair complete with ecologically built (high- and low-rise) houses and public spaces, many designed by internationally renowned architects. The idea was to showcase green-building techniques and a compact approach to growth and development where residents can live a car-light lifestyle.
The nature of the pilot project allowed for a high degree of flexibility and innovation in the design of the street system. Roads in the district are primarily pedestrian only or “pedestrian speed” (Swedish version of the woonerf) streets. The dimensions of the roadways and materials used display a diverse range of techniques to convey their purpose is first for placemaking and secondly for traffic. Touring the Bo01 site, you can’t help but be impressed by the skinny streets, beautiful architecture and integration of nature into the built environment. The Turning Torso, the 54-story skyscraper designed to mimic the twisting human form, is an absolute wonder to witness.
The Western Harbor is in the heart the city, just west of the central station and a short distance from pretty much anywhere. The concept was to offer an urban lifestyle where residents would not need to own a car. The City built more than 8 km of bikeways, extended frequent bus service to the area and set the parking ratio to allow for less than one parking space per unit. The only problem is that most of the people who can afford to live there, also can afford to own a car, or two. As a result, cars are nearly as ubiquitous as bikes. There is a hope that as the rest of the district develops, making the connection to the Central Station more pedestrian-friendly, and perhaps even a streetcar line is introduced, the vision of a car-light neighborhood will be realized.
Link to more info on the Western Harbor: http://www.malmo.se/download/18.3101c0911206abdf07380001750/GuideVastraHamnen_EngelsktOriginal_Web.pdf