Densification of station areas in order to promote sustainable mobility, health, well-being and energy efficiency

Author Ulf Ranhagen

This resource looks at the opportunities and obstacles of densification of urban environments. That is, of gathering people, activities and resources in confined areas, in order to promote sustainable mobility, health, well-being and energy efficiency. It focuses on densification around station areas through co-creation, and based on a case study: Mölnlycke urban centre in Gothenburg (Sweden).

Date added 12 April 2021
Last updated 15 April 2021

Densification is important because it can bring about mixed use of housing, employment, education, public spaces, etc. and consequently a high probability of achieving the relevant sustainability goals. This resource highlights that densification is linked to the UN SDGs: it can achieve inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable settlements (goal 11), gender equality (goal 5), reduced inequality (goal 10), good health and well-being (goal 3), affordable and clean energy (goal 7), and climate action (goal 13).

This resource argues that densification of urban environments can be seen as a wicked problem; one that is difficult to solve because of incomplete or contradictory information, and that is a combination of multiple problems, rather than one that can be tackled in isolation. Therefore, densification doesn’t come without challenges and uncertainties, for example about approaches to planning, as well as measurement of long-term impacts. The resource suggests that co-creation, between different stakeholders and the public, can promote tacit knowledge and consequently, gain a more accurate understanding of relevant planning prerequisites, proposals and approaches. Co-creation in this paper is understood as an umbrella term including: co-initiation, co-analyses, co-design, co-evaluation and co- reflection.

The paper provides different tools and resources for co-creation, achieving an experience-based assessment of strengths and weaknesses, a desired density structure from different perspectives and evaluated density scenarios for the station area in Mölnlycke. Other urban locations, beyond the article case study, might also draw useful insights from the resource about creating more sustainable high streets and town centres.