Urban regeneration – A path to more sustainable cities

By Rockwool, August 16, 2018

A new report from ROCKWOOL, BPIE and EIT Climate-KIC highlights key learnings from successful urban regeneration projects in four European countries combined with insights from experts in the field.

Rundown or challenged neighbourhoods often face multiple social problems combined with health problems for the people living in inadequate buildings. The downward spiral, with interlinked problems such as poor buildings with a high energy demand, social problems and a bad reputation, can be reversed through comprehensive urban regeneration, which includes upgrading the buildings’ energy efficiency, their aesthetic quality and the neighbourhood in general. Moreover, increasing energy efficiency in buildings is the most significant and cost effective investment cities can make to reduce their climate impact.

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The new report from ROCKWOOL, BPIE and EIT Climate-KIC, “Upscaling urban regeneration: European frontrunner cases are leading the way”, features four different urban regeneration case projects from England, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands. The cases show that a comprehensive strategy comprising both physical and social initiatives can transform whole areas into attractive and liveable spaces, and can turn around the negative trend experienced in these neighbourhoods.

Making a holistic plan for urban regeneration in Albertslund, Denmark
One of these neighbourhoods is Albertslund, a suburb in the western outskirts of Copenhagen in Denmark. In the early 1960s, the area had around 3.000 residents, which through an ambitious urban planning strategy and an industrialised construction process grew to around 30.000 in less than a decade. In contrast to most suburbs in Northern Europe, Albertslund is known for its mainly low-rise housing stock but still shares the common problems of inadequate buildings, many social problems and a bad reputation.

In order to revitalise the area, the municipality developed an ambitious strategy; The Masterplan Syd. It is a holistic plan combining physical and social measures that were made possible through the collaboration between the municipality and three housing companies.

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While the Masterplan has not been finalised, the physical revitalisation of the area is obvious. Since the first phase of the project was completed in 2010, the upgraded buildings have shown lower energy bills, reduced CO2-emissions and better living conditions for the residents.

Key factors for a successful urban regeneration
Besides highlighting best practice examples from European cities, the report also focuses on insights from international experts in the field of urban regeneration. They point out some of the key factors for successful urban regeneration, including:

  • A balanced urban regeneration process that combine physical and social measures in a harmonised manner.
  • A long-term plan for the neighbourhood will increase the chances of a successful regeneration process.
  • Broad cooperation, e.g. through public-private partnerships, is key.
  • Engaging residents in the renovation process e.g. via “social contracts” increases the support among residents and can help to give people a new start.
  • The buildings built during the 1960s and 1970s are especially suited to an aggregated, and more industrialised, renovation approach.
  • Properly valuing and monetising the multiple benefits of deep renovation should be included in project evaluation.

To learn more about the case examples and urban regeneration in general, please find the report here.

Visit the ROCKWOOL Group’s dedicated report page to watch three short workshop videos with key experts.

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