Urbanisation creates opportunities

Editorials by Mikael Eliasson

SOLNA, SWEDEN On the way from Solna into Stockholm, I pass through the Norra Station development, which is dense with cranes. This is an albeit modest example of a distinct global trend – urbanisation. The phenomenon is naturally nothing new, but in many regions it is incredibly pronounced and happening at an accelerating pace – even in a relatively sparsely populated country like Sweden. Sweden is actually seeing the fastest urbanisation of any country in Europe! And the result of this is, of course, an increased need to build.

At the UN’s World Urban Forum, which brought together 25,000 people from around the world on 5–11 April in Medellín, Colombia, the focus was on every aspect of construction. Each month, our cities expand by 6 million people, a trend that generates growth, but also contributes to social exclusion and environmental destruction. Although urban living is proven to make efficient use of resources, the challenge remains to design these new environments in a sustainable and socially conscious way.

Swedish construction companies have come a long way in developing industrial construction systems and prefabricated units in wood for apartment blocks. The government and its building agency Boverket highlighted this in Medellín under the heading ‘New construction technology for a better climate’. The theme of the Swedish exhibition during the forum was ‘Innovation Systems for Growing Cities’, which promoted wood as a light and strong material ideally suited to industrial systems. Production takes place in a factory and the building is assembled on site.

At a meeting with my Danish colleague Bjarne Lund Johansen, CEO of Dansk Traeinformation, he pointed out that most new preschools and schools in Copenhagen are built in wood, since the material is considered to be ‘warm and nurturing’. In this issue of Trä!, we reveal that Denmark is not the only place where the material is used for this purpose. Strategist Martin Palacios from localgrowth.se also writes a piece on the challenges and opportunities of urbanisation, and several different types of urban building are presented along the way. Enjoy!

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