Located just outside the city of Gothenburg in Sweden, Partille is a municipality that has seen the advantages of using digital tools to plan urban development. With the help of the planning tool Visual City, ÅF has supported Partille by developing a proposal on how the fast growing community of Sävedalen can be better connected and traffic conditions improved, with a strong focus on both people and the environment.
After several turns of expanding the region, Sävedalen is subject to urban sprawl and has a disconnected urban structure with an extensive traffic problem. To meet the needs of a growing population, the municipality has initiated an urban development project, Partille Eco Park. The purpose is to build more housing, improve the infrastructure and to have more efficient use of the city’s green open spaces. With the aid of a smart simulation model for urban planning, ÅF has proposed a development plan to investigare possibilities of new buildings, improved infrastructure, and enhanced nature and recreational spaces around the city. Developed by ÅF, the process is called Visual City and is a method to analyse and evaluate the consequences of urban development based on economic, social and environmental aspects. Visual City connects several digital softwares and tools for urban development, providing a holistic perspective where multiple parameters can be studied simultaneously.
Urban planning has become increasingly complex, where many different parameters have to be considered. We need to think about quality of life, proximity to nature and the demand for new schools, housing and green open spaces when the population is growing. With the Visual City tool, we can manage several issues at once, based on the same data, and evaluate alternatives viewed from various aspects. The analysis is then illustrated in a 3D model”, says Cecilia Windh, Urban Planner at ÅF who works on the project.
The challenge of competing interests
As Partille grows, managing traffic is a key issue. Running across Sävedalen, a large scale traffic route, Ugglumsleden, was built in the 1970’s but was never completed. After many rounds of discussion, it was decided that the road should link to the E20 highway which is located just above a nature area.
”Building this route is a prerequisite to continue to develop Sävedalen. The challenge is that there are many different interest groups who oppose each other. On the one hand, there is a strong argument to preserve the natural surroundings, on the other hand, many residents feel they will be negatively affected if the infrastructure is not improved. To be able to reach the traffic route today, people would have to drive through a residential area, making the inhabitants there feel less secure. This is city planning in its most challenging form”, says Jörgen Hermansson, Urban Planner at Partille kommun.
Based on Visual City, ÅF presented three different proposals on how the sensitive route through Sävedalen could be designed. With the help of these models, the consequences of the different scenarios and its implications for people, nature and economic interests, could be clearly shown.
”For example, we looked at the noise level, traffic safety, environmental consequences and how much we needed to stabilise the ground with barriers in order to build the road – something that is both expensive and has a harmful impact on nature” continues Cecilia Windh.
Inspired by London
After considering the different aspects, is was concluded that the solution with the least impact on nature and the residents was to place the road around a residential area on the outskirts of a nature park area. The next steps for Partille Eco Park is to develop the detailed plans for each area. Sävedalen’s vision is to be a community where traffic adapts to nature.
”Park areas like Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park in London have served as inspiration. The outskirts of these parks are narrow and cars drive at low speeds, but as you go deeper into the park, nature becomes more wild, and there are deer roaming the park. We might not have deer but we are considering introducing sheep in our park”, says Jörgen Hermansson.