Gårdsten – A suburb with a mission
The challenges cities are facing today are many and complex in both span and scale. The 56th IFHP World Congress brought people from all over the world to discuss these urban challenges. As part of the lectures there were a number of different study visits attached with seminars in different parts of the city. The study visits, which were covering a selection of projects, happenings and areas in Gothenburg, were in different ways relevant and connected to the congress theme ‘The Inclusive City in a Global World’.
Gothenburg's effort to improve citizen dialogue and inhabitant participation in the urban development process has made the city inclusive in many ways. Gårdstensbostäder AB, managing properties and conducting development efforts in Gårdsten, is an example of how to include the citizens. In this case, the residents have been a big part of making a better area for all. For that reason Gårdsten has won several awards and been a model for other suburbs struggling with segregation and crime as well as being a model for sustainable solutions.
Just outside Gothenburg, 13 km northwest of downtown to be exact, is Gårdsten located. Full of good intentions the area was build in order to meet the contemporary problem in the early 70’s; the increased population growth in Gothenburg. But shortly after the construction of the district it was being described as one of the most problematic suburbs of Sweden.
Changes in the facade and types of houses and an improved approach towards better housing, -environmental and social responsibility have made a change in the tenants’ behaviour and the general perception of the area. Today the area is represented by a wider mixture of nationalities, income, age and social status and it actually seems inviting.
From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but when you take a closer look you can see that Gårdsten is not just about the construction but about building a community. The residents are those to influence and take on responsibility in developing the area. Gårdstensbostäder is one of Gothenburg municipal housing and belongs to AB Future, owned by the City of Gothenburg. The company is using its role to develop the social and environmental dimension by encouraging and involving the residents in developing a better place to live. Gårdstensbostäder have helped the people of Gårdsten to create social activities and initiatives and provided jobs for the residents. One of the popular initiatives is fresh baked waffles every Sunday for the senior citizens of Gårdsten.
Beside the social aspect the environmental consideration is also important for the area such as recycling, different energy solutions and energy savings. Lower consumption leads to lower rent and a way to motivate the tenants to a sustainable lifestyle, which in the long term reduce the running cost in general. The tenants also have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables, all this made possible because of the diversity of initiatives.
The district of Gårdsten is still segregated from the rest of the city and struggling with problems such as unemployment and immigration. They have come a long way in developing an attractive residential area and there is still much to do every day.
For more information about Gårdstensbostäder visit: http://www.gardstensbostader.se/