This is how climate-resilient neighborhoods might look in the future

Building resilient neighborhoods is key in enabling our growing cities to adapt to the threats of climate change. The Norwegian city of Bergen is well aware of this. That’s why it has recently devised plans to develop a former port area at the edge of the city into a regenerative, zero-emissions neighborhood.

“One important aspect of this development program is that the city actually owns a large part of the land within this area, and we think that it gives us a different opportunity to set high goals for what we want city development to be. Because we don’t have to negotiate with private owners in this area,” says Laura Ve, who is leading the city’s development program for the district, called Dokken.

To make the planning process as inclusive and transparent as possible, the city is currently running workshops to involve residents in the creation of the neighborhood. And though the project is still in its early stages, a new proposal illustrates what the area might look like, with affordable housing and pedestrian-friendly roads as part of its defining characteristics.

“The idea is that these urban spaces don’t really have any cars in them, so we’re completely noise-free—just human activity. Everything is easily accessible based on low-impact mobility,” says Flemming Rafn, a founding partner at Tredje Natur, one of the architecture firms involved in the project.

What’s more, new green space along the waterfront would reconnect the public to the North Sea, with nature-based solutions integrated within the landscape to protect the area from flooding caused by heavy storms, heat waves, and sea-level rise.

The architects are also considering adding more land by repurposing concrete from a massive highway project happening in the country, which reportedly has an excess of 10 million metric cubic meters of this material that could be put to use to help the city grow.

To ensure that the development project has the smallest environmental footprint, the city plans to carefully calculate the full life cycle impacts of each decision. And to take it one step further, the city is also thinking of ways to help the area’s residents live more sustainably — for example, by creating a sharing economy so people need to buy less.

Overall, the new neighborhood aims to inspire other cities around the world by showcasing that developing urban areas with minimal impact on the environment is possible and can significantly improve the local quality of life.

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