All Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, are competing to launch their ‘greenest city’. Sweden is now launching its ‘One-Minute City’ design to improve urban living. Read more about Sweden’s ‘One-Minute City’ design.
The ‘One-Minute City’ concept is that no locals should need more than a minute to access everything they need, from playing grounds to social hubs. The new national experiment, which started last fall in central Stockholm, asked residents to work with designers using Lego-like parts to redesign their space with a new vision of what one agency started to call the “one-minute city”.
A building kit to transform the way we use city streets
In front of a gourmet sausage shop in Gothenburg, where it was a couple of parking spaces before, there are now a picnic table and racks for cycles an e-powered scooters. Rumors say that the sausage shop’s turnover has quadrupled.
It is the Swedish think tank ArkDes which has developed a building kit to transform the way we use city streets, as part of its Street Moves project, which takes the French “15-minute city” concept to an even more granular level. “The 15-minute city” is a concept now being implemented in Paris. The Swedish concept aims to demonstrate how streets might transform within neighborhoods where walking and cycling are prioritized over driving and could be healthy, sustainable and vibrant by 2030.
The minimized need for traveling long distances to reach work, home or leisure attractions during Covid-19 has increased the idea of thinking local to incite sustainable change.
40,000 km of streets
ArkDes is a national agency that focuses on sustainable urban design, which partnered on the project with Vinnova, the Swedish national innovation agency. “Sweden has about 40,000km [25,000 miles] of street already built, which, if you think of that as a space, is kind of extraordinary,” says Dan Hill, the director of strategic design at Vinnova, who is the force behind the project along with the architecture curator Kieran Long.
And now, ArkDes’s new concept is taking it even further by empowering citizens to add public facilities right outside their doorstep, paving the way for “one-minute cities”. Last summer, the team started piloting the project on four different blocks around central Stockholm. Each had an elementary school, and children became part of participatory design workshops to reimagine the street, adding swings, dance platforms, and street painting.
About 70% of the 322 people surveyed about the Stockholm projects were positive, with ArkDes claiming a 400% increase in movement on the streets around each unit. Currently being tested and evaluated in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Helsingborg, the building kit comprises an expandable modular wooden platform, with different parts that can be placed on top of one another. The changes are a part of Sweden’s plan to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045; nine Swedish cities are aiming to get to net zero emissions by 2030.
The unit in Gothenburg will shortly be followed by one in Helsingborg, and other cities in Sweden have also expressed interest. One partner is the national transportation regulatory agency, which is helping deal with parking space regulation. Though it starts at the level of transforming single blocks, it’s flexible enough to be spread throughout the entire country.
The Helsingborg unit will be outside a sixth-form college, and combines seating with planters and integrated LED lighting. Designed by Lundberg Design, the building kit means city residents can quickly build shared facilities such as playgrounds, outdoor gyms, urban gardens, storage, social hubs, open-air meeting spaces, electric charging stations for cars and parking for electric scooters.
Sweden’s ‘One-Minute City’ Design, written by Tor Kjolberg
All images © Lundberg Design