Monday, September 10, 2012

skate park!

skate park in Vastra Hamnen
skate park in Vastra Hamnen.  notice the (old) steel shipbuilding cranes in the background
so the government of Malmo asked the people what they wanted as they began further developments in the Western Harbor and all around the city.  a bunch of folks, mostly younger student types, said a skate park.  ask and ye shall receive.  the skate park was built very early on in the development of Vastra Hamnen, long before the building I am staying in was started, maybe 7 years ago or more.
swedish skate park culture
kids on top of the skate park lining up for radness

skate park in Vastra Hamnen
teaching each other new tricks on top of the skate park in Vastra Hamnen

in the background are former submarine construction buildings
cool dude rolling through the skate park.  buildings behind the park (to the east) are now a university and some other businesses and used to be the site where they built submarines.

skate parks are cool
more skate park and skateboarding.  be glad I am only posting these few pics.  I took way too many.  skate parks and skateboarding are cool. 
kids are there at the skate park all the time.  they skate at night.  they skate during the day.  they skate when it's hot and when it's cold.  they even (according to a local source) skate in the winter.  supposedly kids are there plowing snow and breaking ice off the concrete so they can skate.  wow.
skate park in Vastra Hamnen
if somebody drops into the pool, you have to take a picture
besides the skate ramps and swimming pool and all of that, there is an area behind the park that seems to be where the local roller derby girls train.  I didn't stay for too long, but I did notice that the coach (tall blond in the red shorts) was speaking english to the team.
skate park roller derby practice
roller derby practice at the skate park in Vastra Hamnen.  awesome.
oh, yeah, and there's a rock climbing area too.  in my youth I would have shown that guy hanging upside down a thing or two about... probably nothing.  I would have likely fallen on my head.  luckily I couldn't get out there because I wanted to keep my camera safe from... the roller derby girls.

rock climbing in Malmo
rock climbing at the skate park
anyways, this doesn't directly relate except that it is cultural and cool.  and in the background of some of these pictures you can see the old shipbuilding rigging and site.  guess what they build in that big old abandoned warehouse where they used to build giant ships...

yep.  wind turbines.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

energy company builds (8) showcase apartments

imagine this: NSTAR (or NGRID or whichever energy provider) decides to build (8) showcase experimental apartments as one block, each unit utilizing a different source of energy and systems.  the goal: an experiment to see which systems perform better, how each unit interacts with the grid, and to learn valuable lessons about energy use.  it seems unimaginable, implausible, downright crazy.  crazy like a fox.
E.ON, a German based energy provider, builds apartments
E.ON's energy provider experimental apartment complex with 8 units, each utilizing different methods of creating and collecting energy.
E.ON, a German energy company with a strong foothold here in Sweden, has not only proposed the idea, but bought the land and has begun construction on the apartment complex.  on my tour of Vastra Hamnen, Roland points to the building and explains the idea behind it.  "genius" I say.  "yes" he says.  this will provide key data for the energy company as it moves forward with providing energy to many people in Malmo.  this showcase will help support the company's choices as it decides how to provide energy to its consumers and what strategies the consumers can use to be most efficient.  genius.
across from the skate park
E.ON builds 8 showcase experimental apartments in Vastra Hamnen in the Bo04 area across from the skate park

Saturday, September 8, 2012

no car neighborhood in the middle of the city?

at the moment I am a little surprised that no one is talking about this place.  maybe it's illegal.  maybe it's a secret.  I could be breaking some sort of sacred code of silence.  I don't even know what its called.  I just know that all of the sudden I took a "wrong turn" on my bike while looking for a soccer field and I was in the middle of a neighborhood in Malmo proper that has only one street.  hundreds of houses but no streets to speak of anywhere.  I was on the main road, a busy one, looking left and right and I saw this street.  something pulled me toward it, even though it didn't look like there'd be a field alongside it.  I rode my bike down this small, one lane street and saw to my left and to my right what I can only describe as gravel paths that led off to people's houses.

carless neighborhood backyard
a backyard in the magic neighborhood just south of Malmo Stadium
the houses all have yards, some with picnic tables, some with benches, others with Swedish flags, most with gardens, mailboxes, etc.  it was, for all intents and purposes, just like any other neighborhood in the city, except there were no roads.  no cars.  no traffic.  no noise.  just birds chirping, greenery everywhere.  it almost didn't seem real.  I rode to the end of the one street (under 200 meters) and stopped.  there was a little church/ general store looking building and another smaller shed like building and a small parking lot with perhaps 50 cars in it.
carless neighborhood street
"street" in a carless neighborhood in Malmo.  you can see where the regular neighborhood begins again because there is a higher apartment building.  that building is on a main street.
I turned around back toward the street I had come down into the heart of this unknown territory. the road I was on was definitely paved.  I wasn't hallucinating or imaging it.  I retraced my way back toward the main (busy) street on my bike, very slowly.  along the way I stopped and snapped a couple of quick pictures, mostly looking down the gravel paths toward the front doors of the houses in the neighborhood.  I felt like I was disturbing some amazing historical monument or some sanctuary.
carless neighborhood just south of malmo stadium
carless street in Malmo
I left pretty quickly in search of my soccer game.  the whole experience was probably about 4 minutes of awe spent gawking as if I'd seen something that might never have been seen before and could well never be seen again.  I felt like the westerner who stumbles into the native tribal village and the place is empty.  I wanted to take a million pictures and videos and scoop up a piece of dirt to take with me to show others that this place is real, but I didn't want to be caught in the middle of somewhere I didn't belong.  I can't really say too much about it except I was there and it is real.  these pictures are the only evidence...
carless neighborhood street
this "street" had high shrubs on both sides.  most of the other streets had smaller shrubs and or flowers along the street.  maybe this is the freeway and those are the sound attenuators?

Friday, September 7, 2012

European Village in Bo01

I can't even tell you how awesome yesterday afternoon was.  I don't even think I can put it into words.  but since this is a blog I guess I have to try (but I will use pictures too).  and, I must warn you in advance, there is so much to say that this story will need to be broken into several parts.  the first part is the European Village in Bo01 in Vastra Hamnen.
european village in Bo01 in Vastra Hamnen, Malmo looking north along the canal
european village in Bo01 in Vastra Hamnen, Malmo looking north along the canal
I must start my story by first thanking Roland Zinkernagel, EU Coordinator and Sustainability Strategist who works for the city of Malmo on Urban Development and Climate issues in the Envrionment Department.  Roland was my tireless tour guide and walked me through Bo01, Bo02, Bo03, and Bo04 which is most of Vastra Hamnen.  he showed me what has been done over the last decade and what is ongoing now.  he explained every little detail and answered all of my questions.  he did all of this in perfect english and with a smile for three hours!  he was an excellent tour guide and a great guy to talk with about the past, the present, and the future of Malmo and of sustainable cities and neighborhoods.
european village in Bo01 in Vastra Hamnen, Malmo looking south along the canal
European Village looking south along the canal
Bo01 was dubbed "the city of tomorrow" by Malmo planners at the tail end of the 1990's as they prepared to showcase their new masterplan for Vastra Hamnen (the western harbor) and a tiny piece of it (called Bo01) developed as housing.  with it's narrow carfree streets twisting and turning like a medieval maze, water features cleaning rainwater and depositing it calmly back into the sea, and beautifully crafted houses of all shapes, sizes, and colors, Bo01 is a truly unique experiment.
european village in Bo01 in Vastra Hamnen, Malmo looking east along the canal
European Village looking east
the goal of this neighborhood, sponsored in part by the European Union, in part by the country of Sweden, and in part by the city of Malmo, was to showcase how neighborhoods could be in the city of tomorrow, how comfort and convenience and healthy living could be primary and how sustainable design, practices, and systems could make it all possible.  the place was based on ideals and built with more unknowns than ever before.  the goal was to make this showcase a permanent fixture in the brownfield Vastra Hamnen, a windy, desolate, crumbling shipyard and industrial neighborhood more than 20 years past its dying days.
european village in Bo01 in Vastra Hamnen, Malmo looking west along the canal
European Village looking west
this neighborhood, of course, had many unique features making it, as is always the case, different than many others interested in applying identical strategies.  first, and most importantly, the city had slowly bought back the land of Vastra Hamnen from the industrial and shipbuilding companies as they retreated or simply vanished.  so the land was mostly owned by the city.  because of this land ownership, the city had the opportunity to create a masterplan and develop the requirements for the request for proposals to be as they wanted, as strict and cutting edge as anything that had been done before anywhere in the world.  they created the masterplan and the RFPs with direct involvement of myriad of experts across many disciplines, including architects, planners, developers, land use specialists, engineers of all kinds, and landscape architects (just to name a few).
Norwegian House.  one of the 15 show houses of the original European Village
norwegian (?) house on the corner at the southeast end of the European Village.  inside there are moveable walls that can be adjusted by hand, dividing the house plan into a grid of four sectors.  the south wall is completely transparent.
what emerged was a grand vision, a new idea about how a city neighborhood could be, unique in style, in strategy, and in statement.  the statements were clear and strong.  this was to be a place of limited car access, an experimental neighborhood rich with untested ideas and methods.  it would be more holistic, integrated, and more energy conscious than anything that had ever been done in Malmo and beyond.  and they would sell these apartments at market rate to consumers looking to be part of something different, better.  looking for a chance to live in an undeveloped place, wanting to be part of the future instead of part of the past.
garden shed for each of the European Village houses
garden shed for each of the European Village houses.  people store bikes and gardening supplies in these little huts.  I was hoping that they were saunas!
the first piece in the heart of Vastra Hamnen and on the edge of Bo01, is the European Village.  in this area a famous or well known architect was selected from each of 15 countries to design a house/ apartment that showcased style, aesthetic, and architecture of his/ her country of origin.  the architects reflected regional characteristics from their homeland while adapting the buildings to the climate and conditions of the site and showcasing sustainable techniques and strategies.  each house was to have access to a view of the water and because this area was not on the ocean, a canal was built running through the village.
a more typical "filler" house in between the 15 show houses of the original European Village
one of the "filler" houses (not one of the original 15 show houses)
because there were only 15 showcase houses built in the European Village, the empty plots in between were filled after the 2001 European Housing Exposition with series houses adjoining each other and connecting to the show houses.  finally, the north end of the Village was capped with a larger, more typical apartment building.  besides the houses themselves, each plot of land has a little yard facing the canal, a garden shed, and some outdoor amenities such as furniture, flowers, and in one case, a deck that sits out on the canal itself.
climbing vines along a more newly built "filler" building at the north end of the European Village
climbing vines along a more newly built "filler" building at the north end of the European Village
that's all the time I have now.  I will write more about other parts of Bo01 and the rest of Vastra Hamnen when I can.  oh, and just in case you were wondering what I think of this little area.  yes, I think it is awesome.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

the rest of it (restavfall)

I asked tamara about recycling in the building and she explained that the system for recycling here is like any other.  you collect cans and bottles and bring them down once a week (or so) to a recycling/ trash room.  someone comes along and empties that room once a week (or so).  the same key (assa abloy by the way) that gets you in the front door of her building and her apartment also gives access to the recycling room.
recycling room and trash collection
recycling room for my building complex (around the entire courtyard).

provides safe way to deposit glass
smartly put a locking system on the glass collection.  no unnecessary cuts or accidents here.
I can't say it smelled very pleasant inside, but most trash rooms are not exactly appealing places to hang out and enjoy a cocktail or a nice meal.

cardboard recycling
cardboard recycling
paper recycling
paper recycling
the room has motion sensor lights, as pretty much everything does in the entire apartment complex.  it has cement board walls and ceilings, plastic recycling and trash bins, and signs on the walls corresponding to each bin.  again, very simple and very functional.

clear glass recycling
clear glass recycling
colored glass recycling
colored glass recycling
they separate the recycling here in the room, which is something it seems most american cities are going away from (maybe this is not the case for apartment buildings, but it definitely seems as though individual point collection at houses is becoming more of a "throw everything into one bin" approach as opposed to having it all presorted as it was in the 1990's and early 2000's).

plastic recycling
plastic recycling (except plastic bags)
lighting recycling
lighting recycling/ disposal
tamara says that its a pretty easy system for her except for the fact that she needs several different containers in the house.  in fact, I count that she has six (6) separate containers, which seems a little much from my perspective, especially when living in a small apartment.
batteries recycling
battery recycling
electronics recycling
electronics recycling
(1) she has a tiny (I repeat... TINY) trash bin under the sink that is about the size of a toaster.  it seems to always have almost nothing in it.  (2) behind that she has a metal bin, equally as small (I have been putting beer cans and mackerel in tomato tins into this bin quite frequently).  she has a larger cardboard bin (3) and a larger plastics bin (4) in the kitchen on the floor.  she has a batteries/ glass bin (5) under the sink.  then outside of her apartment door she has a mini metal trashcan that has more bottles (6).  wow.
metal recycling
metal recycling
yes, the word they use for trash in Swedish is RESTAVFALL and as you would guess, it basically means "the rest of it".  actual translation seems to be "residual waste", which is an extremely accurate description of what goes into that one bin.  go figure, they first dispose of everything else to be reused, turned into energy, or recycled.  then they have a bin for the rest of it. 

residual waste (trash)
residual waste... the rest of it

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

green roofs are... awesome!

most of the buildings in Vastra Hamnen have either a solar thermal collector, solar panels, a green roof, or a combination of all of these things.  all of the neighborhood either creates its own energy or gets it from 100% renewable sources such as a wind turbine in the nearby harbor that supplies the electricity for approximately 600-800 apartment units.  more on energy when I really have time to sit down and get into it, but for now, just imagine that this is awesome.

there is a plot coverage quota here that needs to achieve a certain level per plot to be allowed to build on the site.  the system is pretty simple: you need to reach a certain level of "green" surfaces with the goal of improving the quality of the nearby environment and micro climate.  Strategies that are rated highest (1 point) are ones that mitigate stormwater through absorption, collection, and retention and also collect CO2 and promote biodiversity and improve ecosystems in the neighborhood.  Strategies that score bad (0 points) are "sealed" or completely impermeable.  In the middle is everything else (like semi permeable and water)  I haven't seen the actual chart but I believe it looks something like this:

  • 0.0 - impermeable/ sealed
  • 0.4 - gravel or sand
  • 0.8 - green roof
  • 1.0 - ground level vegetation
  • 1.0 - water

this scoring system has been very successful in helping keep the local area from producing too much runoff and from getting too burdened by the heat island effect that plagues most major cities in the world.  the neighborhood, according to residents, stays quite cool even on hot summer days thanks to a light sea breeze and an extensive (pun intended) network of green roofs and other permeable spaces.

I woke up this morning and looked out the window and saw a bird on my roof.  then I noticed a bird on the next roof over.  rinse and repeat.  lots of birds.  lots of green roofs...
bird on green roof
bird on the green roof across to the west of mine

green roof and ocean
view over green roof to the sea

to reach roof equipment without walking on vegeatation
access walkway to reach mechanical equipment without walking on vegetation

no maintenance green roof
extensive green roof.  zero maintenance.

benefit of being on the top of the building
bird on the roof outside my window

toward other green roofs
looking across the courtyard to the south

green roofs
looking southwest toward the middle of Vastra Hamnen

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

pickup soccer in Malmo

for an evening delight I decided to roll around on my new (used) scott bicycle in search of a pickup soccer game.  I need some exercise and I have been spending too much time emailing and sitting in front of the computer.  So... I set out to where I had seen some fields along Ribersborgsstranden on the western coast of the city below Vastra Hamnen.  even though there were several beach soccer courts and even more regular soccer fields in the area, there was not one single pickup game.  time was passing by.  I picked up the pace on the bike and flew through the city, up and down random streets looking for something.  after nearly an hour, I was getting frantic.  yes I was exercising by riding the bike, but I wanted a game.

finally, as things were starting to look grim, I came across an artificial turf field that turned out to be a city soccer field called Malmo Idrottsplats.  there was a small group of guys playing so I rode over and asked to play.  they invited me into the game and I had a great time.  after an hour or so the sun started to go down and the game ended.  they decided to play a penalty shooting game that I had never played before.

the rules were (sort of) simple and the game reminded me of a soccer version of "horse".  each player gets three strikes and takes turns in order shooting and then being goalie and then getting back in line.  when you are in goal and someone scores, you get a strike.  three strikes and you are out.  last person left with less than three strikes wins (you'll see what winning means in the last video below).  if you shoot and miss the net/ goalie completely, you have to run and touch three goalposts (one twice) before you can save the next shot.  if you hit the goal or the goalie you just go to the net and its your turn to be goalie.

my mission was not to be the first one out.  I succeeded and was the second one out.  it takes a little getting used to with the rules but I think if I play again I will do better.  it seems losing in this game involves potential pain (although I think it's more pride than actual pain).

these guys play every tuesday night so hopefully I will get in another game with them, maybe next week...

Hyllie neighborhood: traveling further abroad

today I had the opportunity to ride around the city for awhile in between sending emails, making contacts, and setting up meetings.  I made it a mission to get to at least a couple of neighborhoods that I hadn't seen yet.  I decided to ride southwest along the coast to check out a couple of places and neighborhoods along the way.

on dock at ribersborg
leaving Vastra Hamnen behind along the coast along the Ribersborg "beach"

the first official stop was Linhamn.  Limhamn is a sleepy outskirt of Malmo about halfway between the city center and the Oresund Bridge.  it saw some growth about 50 years ago with some new apartments but sat quietly for some time after.  recently there have been some upgrades including several new apartment buildings.  one piece of Limhamn sticks out into the ocean as an island and it was there that I found some neat places such as this constructed water inlet amphitheater.

man made rock arrangement for sitting by the sea
water "amphitheater" on the Or of Limhamn

for a little fishing village so close to Malmo city center, it was surprising how empty the place felt, but it was a weekday during business hours.  I saw an older man being pushed in a wheelchair and said hej.  he said hej hej.  I saw some older european village style houses and ran into a woman with a stroller picking wild blackberries.  besides the houses, I also liked this gabion wall set in front of the one cafe on the island.

cafe and new apartment building in the background
gabion wall on the Or of Limhamn with cafe and new apartment building in the background

after Limhamn I went through Bellevue on my way toward Hyllie, one of the neighborhoods of Malmo that has seen immense change in the last ten years.  Bellevue is basically like a suburb.  single family houses with winding side streets and main boulevards connecting major areas.  one point of interest to me has been the schools here.  in this case I stopped to snap a quick picture because I was impressed at how many kids bike to school.  I have noticed in the morning and in the afternoon a lot of parents ride with their kids to school and then continue on to work or elsewhere.  even little kids.

bike parking in Bellevue
elementary school in Bellevue with plenty of bike parking for the kids

after Bellevue I headed toward Hyllie.  on the way I had to stop and take a picture of this poured in place concrete bridge.  for some reason this kind of construction always makes me happy.  this specific bridge creates an underpass for the bike path to continue south from Bellevue to Hyllie.
overpass in Hyllie for bike path
underpass for the bike path made of cast in place concrete

after the underpass I made quick progress to the heart of the new center of Hyllie.  Hyllie is southwest of the city center and was once mostly farmland but has recently gained prominence as a development area for Malmo due to the newly constructed Hyllie station (built as part of the major Malmo City Tunnel project), which is just two stops from Copenhagen and two from Malmo center.

before the Oresund Bridge was constructed linking Sweden to Denmark (Malmo to Copenhagen) one needed to take a ferry for the 6 mile crossing.  In 1999 the bridge was completed linking the two countries and creating opportunity for growth in Malmo and job access across the Oresund Strait, which serves as both the physical border between the two countries and a psychological divide due to the time and effort it took to get from one side to the other.  now a commute from Malmo to Copenhagen is a mere 25 minutes and about $15.
Oresund Bridge across the Oresund Strait
view from Vastra Hamnen toward Oresund Bridge

Hyllie's new station has made the pasture into a soon to be bustling city connecting point.  in fact, the largest mall in Scandanavia is about to open within 100 meters of the station.  besides the mall, there are office buildings and several restaurants, a new museum of Malmo, and the Malmo Arena, which must be important because Lady Gaga played there last year.  my major interest in Hyllie is the new residential complexes that are just breaking ground.  they are going to be in the same ballpark of sustainable excellence as Augustenborg and Vastra Hamnen in terms of energy use reduction, sustainable strategies, water conservation, land use, waste management, and energy efficiency.  there's nothing really to see yet except architectural renderings.

I talk to a local construction worker about the happenings in Malmo and Hyllie and then set off back north on a fantastic bike path toward the city center.  when I pass the soccer stadium (where Malmo FF plays) I stop dead in my tracks.  the bike parking at the stadium is like nothing I've ever seen.  I count 2000 bike parking spaces just on my side of the stadium along the bike path.  I repeat.  2000 bike parking spaces at an international soccer stadium.
soccer stadium in Malmo
Malmo stadium

I counted about 2000 spots with room for plenty of bikes in between
stadium bike parking.  2000 spots on one side of the stadium alone

I leave the stadium and continue north, stopping at the city bibliotek to get a library card.  the library is awesome, a new giant glass box juxtaposed against an historic brick building.  the most intriguing thing to me about the space inside is that the first thing you see when you enter is stairs.  no sign of an elevator anywhere.  oh, you want to go to the second level, there are the stairs.  nuff said.

connects new and old building
entry to the Malmo city library 
study spots along the west wall
main stacks of the library from the second floor 

the other notable about the library is the help/ info desk (right when you enter the building).  they give out tickets like Americans get at the deli counter.  now serving... 
info desk
main entry to library serves as a helpdesk, information center, and meeting place.  cafe in background.

oh.  did I mention the bicycle routes that are mainly closed to through traffic of cars?  and what about the street signs that aim bike travelers from one area of the city to the next?  and of course, the bicycle roundabout...

bikes can pass through but cars cannot
street is open for cars to park but through traffic is for bikes only.  a couple of simple bollards deter cars.

note street signs for bicycle riders
the bicycle roundabout.  a fan favorite.  note the signs directing to different neighborhoods and landmarks in the city.