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

Author U Ranhagen

This paper looks at how densification contributes to a more sustainable and active transportation system. It does so in the context of Gothenburg region in Sweden; and looks at the concept of densification from multiple perspectives through participation and co-creation with multiple stakeholders.

Date added 7 January 2022
Last updated 7 January 2022

Densification is known as the process of gathering people, resources, activities, and opportunities in areas that are immediately accessible. Densification encourages active forms of transport (such as walking and cycling) as this allows to reach all the necessary amenities for daily life. Therefore, densification brings about positive outcomes in terms of environment (i.e., reduced air pollution), but also in terms of health (i.e., more active and healthy citizens). There is strong evidence that suggests how density has the potential to contribute to a reduced demand of transportation.

In order to truly understand the impact of densification, this paper argues that it should be understood not only as a technical parameter, but also as a perceived one. How people experience urban density in their daily activities, will dictate how much of it is translated into sustainable transportation.

This paper reports on a workshop where urban density was explored in Mölnlycke (Gothenburg, Sweden). The approach adopted was co-creation, bringing together researchers, practitioners, and other experts in transdisciplinary teams to think about densification in different contexts. The workshop employed different tools to allow all the participants involved to explore their tacit knowledge and creativity (e.g. density puzzle, SWOT analysis, etc.).

The workshop showed that densification is a ‘wicked problem’; that is, a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve often because it is complex, involving many actors and interconnected factors. Although this co-creation workshop doesn’t provide an unequivocal response to densification, it presents itself as an effective mechanism to bring different stakeholders in urban planning together to think creatively about a complex issue. In other words, the approach presented here promotes the combination of knowledge and experiences from all stakeholders (including the public), to contribute to policies and plans.