Boyd Cohen “…emerging trends … brand new cities…”

Boyd Cohen, climate strategist, author and researcher:
“One of the fascinating emerging trends will be the introduction and evolution of brand new cities which are being built from the ground up with smart cities in mind.”

Based on his definition of Smart City “Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint-all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.” Cohen published a list of the Top 10 smartest cities on the globe as a result of his research. I was quite surprised to see Vienna in first place and Amsterdam not listed:

1) Vienna
2) Toronto
3) Paris
4) New York
5) London
6) Tokyo
7) Berlin
8) Copenhagen
9) Hong Kong
10) Barcelona


Ørestad – first the infrastructure, than buildings on landfill

• Ørestad is the youngest quarter of Copenhagen build on the island of Amager – a landfill-area, previously used by military. Since 1992 it is turned into a mixed quarter for living and working. The quarter stretches north-south with 5km in length and 600m wide.
• There will be another 20 to 30 years before Ørestad is finished. The planning aims for 20.000 inhabitants and 60.000 workplaces.
• Quite unlikely for urban development in Denmark is that infrastructure is in place before buildings. That is due to the financing model applied:
In 1993 the Ørestadsselskab company was founded to develop the area. Their main task is to set up the infrastructure, a Metro-line, for the area. The project shall be financed by the revenue gained from selling ground to investors. Ørestadsselskab is owned by 55% from the municipality of Copenhagen and with 45% the Danish State.
• The Metro connects the various parts of Ørestad with the centre of Copenhagen and runs parallel to the Europe highway that gives a good connection to Sweden and the airport Kastrup.
• The guiding thought of this new urban development could be „Open Live“:
• There are private buildings comprising flats of 30m2 to over 100m2 all one open space.
• A newly built student-home conceptionally follows the analogy to chinese housing – being little groups within a bigger community. There are living groups of 12 students sharing kitchen and lounge facilities. Several of these groups are clustered in a section and 4 sections build the circle of the whole community.
• The „Gymnasium“ is the first highschool build in Denmark within the last 35 years. There are no traditional class rooms, learning is all open space.
• The „Concert Hall“ opened in 2009. It is built according to the plans of the french architect Jean Nouvel. It is covered in blue canvas that allows the projection of the play to the fassade.
• Besides all these good approaches for sustainable urban development Ørestad is also a great example for topics to be cautious about.
• The infrastructure (metro and main road) makes the quarter easily accessible but also cuts through, destructing the slightest effort for atmosphere and coziness. This development seems to make the same mistake as the car centered developments of german towns in the late 60s, early 70s.
• The groundlevel of the buildings was supposed for shops and retail. However this approach didn’t work so far, as most of the retail is concentrated in the newly built shopping center „Fields“ – the biggest in Scandinavia. This complex sucked all shops out of the neighbourhood and leaves the groundlevels around empty.

Why does it seem to be so difficult to create the coziness we love in grown city structures? Developing a greenfield is a unique chance – however we always seem to know exactly what went wrong afterwards.