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The Western Harbour, Malmö, Sweden

Dr Jennie Sjöholm presents micro-climatic considerations in a Malmö neighbourhood.
Hello. Now, we will look at the specific case related to urban planning, given the micro-climatic conditions, and we will focus on the Western Harbour in Malmö, in southern Sweden.
First, I want to give you a bit of a background. Malmö is one of the largest cities in Sweden. It’s located by the sea at the south coast. And this area, it’s a waterfront development, started to develop in the 2000s. The reason behind this is that Malmö used to be an industrial city, having a lot of heavy industries, including a shipbuilding yard and so on. But during the 1970s, during the oil crisis and the economic crisis that followed, many of these industries closed down. Malmö got high unemployment rates. It was a quite poor and neglected city. And the City Council wanted to do something about that. They needed to do some kind of redevelopment project.
So, they decided to re-brand the city, to give it a new image from a working city with a lot of heavy industries, to be more focused on business and commerce, to have an university located in the city and so on. Part in this redevelopment and changing the place image and re-branding the city, they decided to develop this area in the Western Harbour, which then was a derelict industrial site with a lot of water, waterways and docks and so on used by the shipyards. It’s also very close to the city centre and to the main central station in Malmö. So it has a very favourable location and also very attractive location nearby the water.
And what I especially want to focus on is the first part of this development, as you can see in this picture of this model of the area. It was designed as an housing exhibition, or housing exposition, that opened in 2001. And this first stage, and the first phase of this redevelopment project, they focused a lot on building, so it would be useful and sensible given the micro-climate and the heavy winds and the quite harsh climate that it can be in parts of the year. If you look at the buildings next to the sea, you can see that they are a bit taller than the rest of the buildings to help shelter from wind.
But you can also see they’re not following a straight line. They are a little bit adjusted to help break the winds and to help creating street patterns and staggered streets that also prevent wind tunnelling coming from the winds blowing in from the sea.
You also see this very nice public space, a park area along the canal that is used as a public space promoting public activities of different kinds. So let’s take a look at what does it look like on the ground after being built.
Here, you can see part of the waterfront and this area is developed to be very nice to take a walk across, and walk along. You can take a swim in the see if you want to do that, and you can have an ice cream and you have different activities in cafes and so on in the in the area. You can also see that the houses are a bit taller. And that is, as I mentioned earlier, to help break the winds coming in from the sea. You also have staggered street patterns. Also that is to avoid wind tunnelling, wind coming in, to making it windy and unpleasant during part of the year. And also this helps creating sheltered places.
Due to the street pattern and the path and walking path you both have a quite intriguing, exciting area to walk in because you never quite know what’s around the next corner. You have different sites and different views across as you walk along. But it also helps to create this kind of sheltered places that could be places for play or for sitting or just enjoying. And you can choose if you want to be on the sunny side or on in the shade, depending how hot or warm it is outside. It was also very intentionally designed architecture in the area. Different architects was hired to avoid having the same kind of monotonous, kind of architecture looking at the same all across.
So you have different kinds of facades and you have a very lively area with different kinds of buildings, something that appeals to the vision of the place when you move around. And it also helps create a different kind of sheltered walkways and so on, that could help during more unpleasant times of the year if it’s very windy or rainy or even snowy, that you can sort of get away from that or take shelter from that.
And here we see an example from the park, the public space that was created in the area along the canal, which was developed into a nice little park with greenery, making the most of the water and having it as a very nice public place both for the people visiting and for the people actually living in the area.
So, let’s continue exploring a little bit more about the details of how to plan and build with micro-climate in consideration.

Dr Jennie Sjöholm presents how micro-climatic considerations was taken into account when designing the neighbourhood the Western Harbour, in Malmö, Sweden.

Reflect on

Reflect on how the neighbourhood is designed to adapt the micro-climate. How are streets, buildings, and open spaces used to make the area more pleasing in all seasons?


  • Building heights
  • Street patterns
  • Open spaces

Images source: Malmö Stadsarkiv and

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