Where will be the first Irish Urban Eco-District?

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      As pasted below is an article from the Financial Times from November 2007, primarily about BO 01 in Malmo, Sweeden.

      Also is a short excerpt on Seaside, Florida, which was one of the first redevelopments deliberately using the principles of New Urbanism; it is notable that some houses/ plots which cost 15K in 1981 pre-NU, are now worth 5M.

      New Urbanism would be familiar to many Archiseekers – the concept of the “walkable community”, where pedestrians take precedent over cars; as a town-planning theory it is also referred to by some as “traditional urbanism”, as in many ways (thru mixed uses etc), it is a return to pre-private car urbanism – only in this instance there is a deliberate consideration to such policies.

      Are urban eco-districts based on new urbanist principles the answer? Its certainly worth a thought; where else are we to go, as approx 90% of Ireland’s fuel dependency is based on imported fossil fuels, with much of this wasted – as evidenced by the 40% more CO2 that Irish homes release when compared to the EU average.

      And then there’s the gross waste of fuel arising out of the the Sprawl Society that we have spawned, particularly over the last ten years… So might a new culture of “Hiberno Urbanism” emerge, and if so where could it emerge?

      Enjoy the article 🙂

      @Financial Times wrote:

      Grand plans for green design

      By Oliver Lowenstein, FT.com site

      Published: Nov 24, 2007

      The first time I visited Bo01, Scandinavia’s showcase eco-district in Malmo, Sweden, it was a freezing day, with the North Sea battering the waterfront. Approaching from the city centre, the hectares of razed brownfield land, together with the empty ship-building docks, looked like a desolate winter landscape, not a place to live. “Nobody believed there would be beautiful, young people moving to such a grey and declining industrial city,” Eva Dalman, the development’s project manager, told me. I could understand why.

      But when I stopped by the sustainable development again, 18 months later, its appeal was suddenly obvious. Autumn sunlight glinted off the water in the western harbour] grew into larger businesses and academic institutes.”

      Freiburg is home to the Institute of Applied Ecology, which opened in 1977, as well as being one of the birthplaces of the PassiveHaus movement, which aims to create ultra-low-energy homes. When, in the early 1990s, city officials identified Vauban as a potential site for sustainable development to boost the local housing supply and stem an exodus of young families, a group of locals formed the Vauban Forum to help set the agenda. In 1997 the first of several community-based developers, Genova, started to build 36 of the more than 400 planned housing units, though individual eco-friendly house-builders have also been encouraged all along.

      Today the 38-hectare community centres on a main avenue with wide pavements, a tram line and a long stand of linden trees. There is a mix of building types, primarily four or five storeys, with schools, shops and a farmers’ market standing alongside housing. Bicycles are everywhere.

      What most distinguishes Vauban from other eco-districts is how the natural world has been mostly left to its own devices. Visiting this autumn, I marvelled at the avenues of trees with leaves rustling in the breeze, the many open grassy areas between buildings and the children wandering around freely.

      “That’s one of the things I appreciate most – my children being able to go off and do what they want and me not being scared about cars and traffic,” says Anne Pult, a mother of three who also moved to Vauban early on. “People look after each other and it is sociable. Where I live, seven families cook lunch together most days, although we have our own spaces.”

      She acknowledges that the community can seem homogenous; most residents are well-educated, young and liberal. But she notes that there are also houses where both young and elderly people live together. And children who grew up there are now moving back. “Vauban shows people a structure that works,” she says. Certainly, planners and architects believe in the model, flocking from all across Europe to check it out.

      Compared with the large-scale, public-private project in Malmo and the long-lasting, community-inspired Vauban, the urban eco-districts rising in the UK remain insignificant. The one-off Greenwich Millennium village, which went up at the same time as the nearby Millennium Dome, and the frequently cited BedZed (“zed” standing for zero-energy development and “bed” for Beddingham, its south London location) are it. Dalman describes the latter as “an eco-village rather than an eco-district”.

      But Pooran Desai, co-founder of sustainable housing developer Bioregional, insists that things are changing quickly. His company is working with Quintain on the Middlehaven in Middlesbrough, England, which will be seven times bigger than BedZed. “I think [that project] could be called an eco-district,” he says. And it goes a step further by “creating a whole sustainable lifestyles,” he adds. “We do as much work on food and waste as transport and energy efficiency, with long-term estate management and green services, from local food deliveries to car clubs, featuring very heavily.”

      Peter Clegg, of sustainable architecture practice FeildenCleggBradley, agrees that this is the future of eco-district planning. “What we do have to realise is that buildings can only help with a small proportion of the problem,” he says. “It is not the buildings that are the cause of CO2 emissions but the people that occupy them. Lifestyle changes are needed [as well as] carefully co-ordinated infrastructure

      He still regards the Malmo and Freiburg developments as exemplars. But with the UK’s eco-town architectural competition now on the table, he and other British architects will soon have a chance to improve upon them.

      Oliver Lowenstein runs Fourth Door Review, fourthdoor.org

      The following is but a small excerpt on New Urbanism from Wikipedia, for more see:



      Seaside, Florida, the first fully new urbanist town, began development in 1981 on eighty acres (324,000 m²) of Florida Panhandle coastline. It was featured on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly in 1988, when only a few streets were completed, and has become famous internationally for its architecture, and the quality of its streets and public spaces.

      Seaside proved that developments that function similarly to traditional resort towns could be built in the postmodern era. Seaside is now a tourist mecca, and appears in the movie The Truman Show. Lots sold for $15,000 in the early 1980s, and slightly over a decade later, the price had escalated to about $200,000. Today, most lots sell for more than a million dollars, and some houses top $5 million.

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