UNaLab is a project funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The UNaLab consortium is comprised of 28 partners from 10 cities across Europe and beyond, including municipalities, research, business and industry. The UNaLab partner cities commit to addressing the challenges that cities around the world are facing today, by focusing on climate and water related issues, within an innovative and citizen-driven paradigm. With three demonstration cities, seven replication cities and several observers, the UNaLab project aims to develop smarter, more inclusive, more resilient and increasingly sustainable societies through innovative nature-based solutions (NBS).

More infos...

Food on the Roof

The aim of this project is to explore the possibility to smartly integrate food production in cold urban environments. The main objective is to sketch an intelligent platform to guide a comprehensive, city-wide approach to urban farming in winter cities and assist city stakeholder . The platform will integrate various data sources - geographic, population and building data (e.g., location, orientation, size), energy performance (e.g., energy declaration) - and food-science knowledge to be able to identify suitable locations for UF.

Urban farming (UF) has social, economic, and environmental benefits: socially UF will bring people closer to nature and it can become a source of education for local schools and community; economically, UF targets the rapidly growing market of premium, fresh, biological food that is proudly produced locally and can be sold to local restaurants and other customers; environmentally, UF will decrease our reliance from far away and poorly controlled food chains, while decreasing environmental costs for transportation. CF-0 is aligned to the Swedish National strategy for food safety (2016/17:104) which aims "in 2030 the Swedish food supply chain will be globally competitive, innovative, sustainable and an attractive sector to operate in."

more infos...

MIN-SPIRE (Sustainable Planning of mIning aREas)


MIN-SPIRE is a project funded by the Hjalmar Lundbohm Research Centre (HLRC)

Sustainable Urban Development in Gällivare (SUD course, 2017)

The focus of this year course in Sustainable Urban Development is Gällivare which is located in the resource-rich region of Norrbotten. The region is at once heavily industrialized (steel, bio fuels, paper, extraction industry, large energy infrastructures) and one of the least densely populated area of Europe.

The project demonstrates the use of multifunctional ecological corridors for urban regeneration, where a specific focus is placed on the regeneration of mining areas and their connection with the rest of the town.

The aim of the project is to explore the challenges and opportunities in integrating urban planning and design considerations with mining sites. This move should contribute to: on the one hand, the sustainable (and economically feasible) rehabilitation of mining sites during and after operations have ceased; and, on the other hand, to diversify the local economy towards additional economic ventures (e.g., tourisms, sport, etc.).

A vision for Kalix (Climate, Landscape and Built Up Areas course, 2016)

Students from the Master Programme in Climate Sensitive Urban Planning and Building has developed urban design proposals for the future of Kalix. A greener and denser city more suited for pedestrians than motorists.

The project team was composed of 12 students with various fields of expertise: five urban planning students and six engineering students (civil, electrical and project management). Each group tried to add value to this urban planning project within their field of expertise.

The aim was to develop pedestrian traffic in relation to car traffic in a way that would lead to pedestrians getting preference in most traffic situations in the center area. It was most necessary to improve the connections between all the quarters in the center, where there was a wish to simultaneously improve the connection between the center and the green area towards the Kalix river. Generally, the proposal aims to create environments with significantly improved conditions for pedestrian traffic.

In order to achieve a more vibrant, interesting, eventful and especially a more sheltered centrum area, proposals were primarily set on densification of the center area as well as developing inefficiently used areas.

Mandal, Anindita
Rizzo, Agatino 

Hernandez, Julie
Klein, Noennie
Laine, Dorine
Memar, Moujan
Ohberg, Soren
Palacio Sanchez, Pablo
Sanborn, Emma
Tornroth, Suzanna
Acker, Victoria
Elomrani, Mariam
Ferhady, Nawid

More info at LTU website 

Planning Ecological Infrastructures for Sustainable Urban Development ​ (SUD course, 2016)

In recent years, Sparsely Populated Areas (SPARs) in Northern Scandinavia have been affected by important spatial, economic, and social transformation processes that are redesigning the identity of this once forgotten corner of Europe. Thanks to the natural resources boom of the last decade and a more recent drive to attract ICT and R&D businesses and institutions, economic growth in regions such as Norrbotten in Sweden has boomed.

However, this growth has brought new challenges for local policy makers:
- from a situation of general depopulation and housing vacancy typical of the 1980s and 1990s, today the largest coastal cities are suffering from a severe housing shortage while the rural areas are characterized by shrinkage and economic decline;
- just like in other parts of Europe, the changing climate has contributed to the vulnerability of towns and cities to prolonged rainfall and more humid winters while the extreme natural daylight and temperature excursions remain a “hot” topic for delivering an attractive urban environment;
- urban and regional infrastructures (e.g., transport) on this side of Sweden have naturally been weak while today there is the need for a general re-hauling of existing and planning of new infrastructures to support sustainable forms of mobility and more compact development.

A new, more strategic and spatially-oriented approach to area-wide territorial planning in SPARs of Scandinavia is badly needed to enable the long-term sustainability of the ongoing urban and economic growth. Supervised by a team of international researchers and practitioners, LTU master students will work in teams to develop a city-scale, spatial plan that focuses on Ecological Infrastructures as the strategic infrastructures to manage growth, regenerate both urban-cores, industrial, and sprawling peri-urban areas, promote climate-sensitive urban planning and design, enhance the ecological and landscape qualities, and deliver greater choice for mobility in the region. The focus area will be Luleå inner core including the nearby centres of Sunderbyn, Gammelstaden, Kallax, Gäddvik, and Rutvik.

Sustainable Mixed-Use Districts: Mitigating land-Use Conflicts in Industrial Cities​ (SUD course, 2015)

Project Site & Mission
Luleå is a city characterized by many industrial developments within its inhabited urban core. This has been mainly the consequence of the historic vocation of the city as an industrial and harbor hub for resource-rich Norrbotten, in the north of Sweden. It is also crucially the result of previous land use policies and master plans that have facilitated the proliferation of industrial areas throughout the city.
However, during the last decades the city has strived the service sector and increasingly towards the knowledge industry (see the Aurorum area and the expansion of the university campus). This, in turn, has attracted new residents from within the region and abroad and therefore has boosted the demand for dwellings in the urban core.

This rapid demographic growth coupled with an increasing percentage of the population with a tertiary education has exacerbated the land use conflict between residential and industrial areas. It has also further the social and spatial divides within the city.

The aim of this course is to map these divides and the infrastructural gaps of Luleå’s residential areas encroached by industrial clusters to suggest strategies and interventions to mitigate the existing and future potential land use conflicts. 

The projects below show the potentials of many existing urbanized areas in the inner town. This urban regeneration approach is antithetical to the current developments in town:
- many of the projects concentrate in upgrading brownfield areas rather that green ones.
- density is crucial but it is always declined to increase the "intensity" of activities and social interactions and not for speculative purposes. 
- finally, all developments promote walking, cycling, and public transit rather than car-centred development.
We hope that these projects will foster a change of mentality in Luleå's city makers towards a more attractive, sustainable and just urbanism.

Declining, transition and slow rural territories

As metropolitan areas around the world keep expanding, behind them, rural areas continue to be affected by greater rates of depopulation. This is not a new phenomenon: rural to urban migration has been reported in the developed world at least from the period between the two world wars. However, recent rural depopulation trends have dramatically intensified in both the developed and the developing countries worldwide. In planning literature, greater emphasis is placed on the “urban–rural” divide, that is, people leaving the countryside to look for better opportunities in urban areas. However, a growing body of literature points to the fact that not all rural areas are declining at the same rate. Indeed, some rural towns have managed to retain population and even to grow. Therefore, at least in developed countries, an “intra-rural” divide notion is emerging. To exemplify this notion, we have studied rural towns in Southern Italy.
Read more

Qualitative characterization of rural territories.

Transdisciplinary urbanism: Three experiences from Europe and Canada

The decreasing pace of urban development in economically-troubled Europe allows time for urban practitioners and actors to re-think planning action and its outcomes. In Canada where urban development seems unstoppable, contemplative breaks are as important. From the rubbles of recent environmental and economic crises around the world, in this article we discuss the emergence of a new theoretical approach in urban design and planning that is at the intersection of Socio-Spatial Research, Complexity Theories of Cities, and Urban Activism: Transdisciplinary Urbanism. We deploy three relevant, research projects we have been engaged with to analyze issues, challenges and limitations of Transdisciplinary Urbanism. The time frame of these interventions spans almost a decade.
Read more

“My Public Living Room” on the 26th of June 2014, the last day of the public display.

Source: Galanakis, picture taken in 2014.

City of Science in Luxembourg: Urban Redevelopment of a Steel Mill Areain Esch Sur Alzette in Luxembourg

The new City of Science in Belval, nearby the town of Esch Sur Alzette in Luxembourg, is one of the latest examples of urban redevelopment of a former industrial site to a knowledge-oriented function. Interestingly, part of the area is still used as an industrial site by one of the subsidiaries of the Luxembourgian-Dutch conglomerate ArcelorMittal, one of the main stakeholders in the region (before being a financial hub, Luxembourg was a well-established steel production centre).

The regenerated City of Science hosts the offices and educational facilities of the University of Luxembourg and several other buildings such as new national research facilities, banks, a shopping mall and several residential buildings as well as cultural spaces such as a museum adapted in the former furnaces of the steel mill, concert hall, etc. More information about the project can be found here: http://www.belval.lu/en/

The project is perhaps not the most advanced example of urban redevelopment of a former industrial area. However, it shows clearly the urban potentials of industrial sites located nearby urbanized areas. The City of Science in Luxembourg is an interesting exepirement of a mixed-use development in a former heavy-industry area. In a small scale, perhaps, a city of science could be imagined in a city like Luleå, which, not without controversies, apires to transition its economy from a steel and iron ore manufacturing centre in to one of  the leading knowledge cities in the nordic arctic region (Pictures by A. Rizzo, 2015).