Revitalising the riverside
Gothenburg, Sweden is in the process of undergoing the largest urban redevelopment of any other city in Scandinavia. The RiverCity urban renewal project is an ambitious plan to transform 5 million m2 of river bank property, left derelict in places by the collapse of the industrial ship building era, into a modern socially inclusive and economically thriving area for the city of Gothenburg.
Plans entail connecting and revitalising 7 neighbourhoods that are either directly on the banks of the river Gote alv, or just beyond its reaches. Effectively this will double the size of central Gothenburg, creating 25 thousand new homes and 45 thousand new workspaces. The property market in Gothenburg is enjoying record turnover and it became readily apparent to civic planners that it was imperative to define a development strategy to meet the growing needs of the city over the next couple of decades.
Early in 2011 the Advisory Board for RiverCity Gothenburg invited various teams of experts to compete for one of ten seats on an specialist panel to provide transdisciplinary counsel to help the city define an encompassing renewal strategy. It was important to the City of Gothenburg that three dimensions of sustainability were addressed: the social, ecological and economic impacts of urbanisation.
Despite the tough field of competition, BuroHappold won a place on the advisory council, and was subsequently invited to attend an intensive 5 day workshop to work collaboratively with the other teams and share our expertise. We discussed the project objectives on how to creative a more inclusive community, a city that fosters and develops economic diversity, as well as address concerns relating to the impact of climate change.
Gothenburg is both divided and defined by the river. Trade along the Gote alv has been the economic lifeblood for the city for nearly 4 centuries. Today Gothenburg remains the largest port in Scandinavia, handling 30% of Sweden’s foreign trade. The river banks are characterised by highly industrial development, comprising of 13.1km of dockland. There is very little public access to the river, and between the width of the river and breadth of industrial development on the two banks, the divide running through the heart of Gothenburg is significantly deep.
The Advisory Board for RiverCity Gothenburg identified three key strategic planning objectives they wanted to address through urban renewal. 1. “Embrace the Water.” 2. “Reinforce the Centre” and 3. “Connect the City” with a view to create a socially inclusive, economically thriving and more ecologically sustainable city.
To accomplish this goal BuroHappold outlined a strategy based on four cornerstones: create a new economy; plan development to drive social inclusion; redevelop the infrastructure to reconnect the city; and plan for a city of connected neighbourhoods.
Rod Manson, Regional Director
For example, to create a new economy BuroHappold recommended building on Gothenburg’s academic, research and industrial strengths to fuel a new and diverse spectrum of businesses. It would be important to strategically create opportunities at different economic scales, from small and medium enterprises through to fostering large multinational organisations. To achieve this the government would need to provide flexible regulations and available low-cost space, augmented by access to business advice and alternative financing.
Reconnecting the north and south sides of the Swedish port city will play a pivotal role in the success of RiverCity. The area’s dense legacy infrastructure is an asset supporting new growth but also a constraint on effective reconnection of the area. It will be essential to remove the major barriers which isolate the site from the river and from surrounding areas. However removal of these barriers must be matched by the creation of new links and bridges enabling pedestrian, cyclist and public transit easy access to both shores as well as public entry to riverside parks and green spaces.
The RiverCity project is illustrative of how BuroHappold works closely with our clients to construct robust business cases and acquisition strategies to deliver optimal spatial, social and economic results. We draw from our expertise in urban development, infrastructure socio-economic modelling and award winning technical multi-disciplinary architectural engineering excellence to create complete development services.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply