Sustainable Cities™

Malmö: Bo01 - an ecological city of tomorrow

In Malmö in southern Sweden, a sustainable district has grown up in the wake of the Bo01 housing exhibition. In 2001, the exhibition showed off visionary types of dwelling, with people, aesthetics, ecology and technology part of the plan from the outset. The housing exhibition site has since developed into the district known as Bo01 (Live01) where the emphasis for the town planners has been on high-quality permanent housing solutions, architectural diversity and urban spaces. Malmö's inhabitants have already embraced the district which has become one of the city's most popular excursion spots.

Farverige huse og vand i den bæredygtige bydel Bo01, Flickr 15. november 2007, af Free Range Jace.

Bo01 is a recently developed district in the Västra Hamnen (West Harbour) growth area on the outskirts of Malmö. The district has approximately 600 homes, offices, shops and other service trade premises. The objective is for the district to be a leading international example of environmental adaptation and social sustainability in a densely built-up area. It is hoped that Bo01 will strengthen sustainable growth in Västra Hamnen and Malmö as a whole. The district's previous history has a housing exhibition has underpinned the development of innovative housing solutions that give sustainability and aesthetic appeal pride of place.

At first sight, there is nothing particularly sustainable about Bo01, but the district has sustainable solutions designed into it since it was on the drawing board. The focus has been on three aspects in particular; use of resources, planimetrics and emotions & aesthetic appeal. Private players, who have been responsible for the physical realisation of the district, were urged to think holistically and to show consideration for the surroundings in relation to the individual housing units. Built-in nesting boxes for birds and sustainable vegetation, for example, are a natural element of Bo01. 

Summer at the Bo01 seafront. By Hauggen 30 July 2008, Flickr Creative Commons

Consumption of resources in Bo01 is minimised e.g. by wind turbines, which provide all the district's electricity. Solar panels on the roofs supply a fifth of the heat, the remainder coming from thermal heating and Malmö's existing, super-efficient district heating system. Recyclable and organic materials are sorted and contribute to energy production by the city's biogas plant. The residents of Bo01 are encouraged regularly to check their energy consumption on information panels installed in each home. In addition to this, paths and cycle tracks have been given high-priority as has the use of healthy materials in the dwellings and surroundings.

Sustainability in Bo01 also concerns interaction between the people who live in the area, and objectives have been laid down regarding different forms of ownership in order to reduce the formation of ghettos. Furthermore, design and architecture create aesthetically pleasing urban spaces and attractive places where residents can get together. This is manifest in such details as protection against the wind and pleasant outdoor areas with a good view and proportions to which residents can relate. In order to ensure a sustainable resource management and recreational and aesthetic values, water in the district flows through an ingenious system of ponds, open channels and moss-covered roofs.

The 175 hectare artificial island of Västra Hamnen was bought by the Municipality of Malmö in 1996, and the idea was to develop an entirely new eco-district. Over the last 10 years, the municipality has transformed the island from a polluted industrial area to an environment-conscious district with homes, businesses and recreational areas. A fundamentally sustainable approach to planning of the building instructions has been key in the creation of the district. Bo01 crowned the achievement, with its innovative concepts and new technologies which have improved environmental standards in the area. Bo01 has been highly praised as an exciting, ambitious and thought-provoking success, and the people of Malmö have embraced the district, especially its harbour promenade.

Sustainability under scrutiny

Despite Bo01's ambition of creating mixed forms of ownership to reduce the risk of ghetto formation, the residents of Bo01 constitute a homogenous group. The district has been criticised because it is only home to well shod, healthy, white residents despite the fact that 40% of Malmö's population was born outside Sweden. The lack of diversity is due to the high price of homes in the district; a three-room flat in Bo01 starts at around SEK 2 million (GBP 170,000), which is more than twice the national average price.

The fact that the dwellings have large areas of glass, some facing the sea, means that the residents of Bo01 have to cope with hefty heating bills. Cars are also allowed in Bo01, which was originally planned for less than one car per household. Today many homes have one or more luxury cars. For the first couple of years the district rented out the electric cars to residents but removed them again because they were not used. Although there are many cycle tracks and special bus routes, the largest transport-related problem is the shortage of parking spaces. A multi-storey car park has been built as a result.

In Bo01, sustainability and the residents' lifestyle clash. Because of the residents' prosperous lifestyle, house prices and design, critics do not believe Bo01 has become the shining example of low energy living the municipality of Malmö had hoped for.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014