Ekostaden Augustenborg and Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

Malmö, Sweden

The two projects - a newly built housing area and an upgraded neighbourhood - follow the same environmental and social standards in Malmö

The following case study refers to two residential areas in Malmö.

Hit by the economic decline of the industrial sectors in the 1960s and 1970s both areas, Augustenborg and Bo01 (a small site in Western Harbour district), struggled with ecological and socio-economic difficulties in subsequent decades. In order to maintain the housing areas, a total transformation was necessary - Bo01 required complete renovations and Ekostaden (eco-neighourhood) Augustenborg had the need for revitalisation.

The city had decided to renovate the areas as early as the 1980s. From the beginning of 1990’s, several implementation steps according to sustainable urban development standards were constantly pursued. Ecological improvements of the local rainwater system for instance and of the housing stock were carried out in combination with approaching social issues, too. One basic principle was the participation of the local population in planning and implementation.


City information

Size and population development
Urban: 280,415 City: 303,873 Metro: 664,428

Population composition
48% of the population is under 35 years of age, 14% of the population are foreign nationals, 41% have a foreign background, 30% of the population has been born abroad, 11% of the population are Swedish-born with foreign-born parents

Main functions
Capital city of a regional area, global city, together with Copenhagen creates the Öresund Region, the most populatied region in Scandinavia

Main industries / business
Shipbuilding, construction,

Administrative structure
The Malmö urban area, Malmö tätort consists of the urban part of the municipality together with the small town of Arlöv in the municipality of Burlöv. Both municipalities also include smaller urban areas and rural areas, such as the suburbs of Oxie and Åkarp

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Background and objectives

Augustenborg – Eco City

Built in 1948-1952 by the Malmö City Housing Company Ltd., the neighbourhood of Augustenborg was one of the first housing estates under Sweden’s new post-war social housing policy. At that time it consisted of 1,800 apartments and was Malmö’s first energy-independent housing area supported by a local coal-fired heating system. The apartments were spacious and of high quality for 1950s standards. During the decades of industrial decline, social and economic problems severely hit the area. Consequently, many residents moved and the residual population became marginalised with high levels of unemployment. In addition to the unoccupied apartments and the associated poor building appearance, the area of Augustenborg had particularly suffered under seasonal flooding mainly caused by the old sewage drainage system. Thus in the beginning of the 1980’s, the municipality and related actors began to discuss the possibility of transforming the area into a small eco-friendly district. In 1990 the city of Malmö, the MKB Housing Company and residents of Augustenborg slowly started to consider retrofitting in the area. This culminated in the initiative of “Ekostaden Augustenborg” in 1998 and concrete aims of the regeneration of the area have been. The overall aim was to turn the neighbourhood into an environmentally adapted urban area. 

Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

Bo01 is a new development area in the district of the Western Harbour (Västra hamnen). It used to be the heart of industrial activities in Malmö, where shipyards and container terminals left their marks. Bo01 is the name for an international housing exhibition that took place in 2001 – at that time representing the first stage of development of the entire Western Harbour area. Currently Bo01 expo area is about 9ha of size and provides approx. 600 dwellings for 1,000 people. As a new built residential area Bo01 is subsequently addressing soil decontamination, sustainable/ecological building, waste treatment, mobility, biodiversity, and 100% local renewable energy. In about 20 years the housing area of Western Harbour (160ha) – known as the “City of Tomorrow” – should expand to 140ha to provide space for 30,000 residents. Today, 4,000 residents live there.


Augustenborg – Eco City

The project Ekostaden Augustenborg was launched in 1997 and ran from 1998 to 2002 as an initiative of an extensive urban renovation programme by the local housing company MKB and the industrial estate. Right at the start 400 residents took part in the initial meeting to discuss the programme. Aiming at the transition of the area the project addresses an integrated approach in urban development. Priority was set on the cooperation with local residents as well as numerous stakeholders both in the public and the private sector.

The first step of the project was the renovation of 1,600 apartments by recycling old materials to improve their energy efficiency. Several houses with green roofs, solar panels, and a biogas composting-system linked to the organic house waste have also been erected. To make this happen, the local housing company MKB and the city of Malmö agreed on a joint management contract. This contract contains the following key aspects:

  • renewable energy: producing solar energy and small scale-wind
  • waste separation: aiming a recycling rate of over 70% compliance by installing waste-separation and food composting facilities.
  • green spaces: construction of a 9,000m2 botanical roof garden intercepting half of the total yearly run-off. Despite helping to absorb the rainwater, the green roofs also provide local habitat and biodiversity. The total green space of Agustenborg has increased by 50% since the initiative had started.
  • local flood management: a local sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) has been designed by a group of residents. This innovative open rainwater channel system protects the neighbourhood from seasonal flooding. Before directing into the new sewage system, the water is collected in natural ditches and reservoirs giving several aquatic creatures a new home.
  • mobility: residents introduced a carpool with eco-friendly cars used for community purpose.
  • participation and learning: all different groups of residents have been involved in the renovation process. Elderly people, immigrants, children, adults, and students discussed the process of change in their social respective units.

Different instruments and policies of good governance have been used in the initiative. The most important instrument was and still is participation. Several community workshops, informal gatherings, and continued information exchanges/dialogues in a community café-house have been held. Citizens have been fully integrated in the process of change and it is estimated that one fifth of all residents actively participated in the “Ekostaden Ausgustenborg”.

Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

The newly built residential area Bo01 (Expo) and redevelopment of the entire West Harbour was initiated by the Malmö’s strong environmental programme, and was controlled through a Quality Programme and Master plan. The Quality Programme sets guidelines for architectural conditions, use of materials, technical infrastructures, and energy efficiency. It was created by the organiser called Bo01AB who also introduced the initial housing exhibition. As a first step land of Bo01 area was released in small development parcels. All new houses were built based on certain environmental standards performing a good material use and energy efficiency. Combining ecological sustainability with human sustainability, the houses’ architectural style was as important as its functionality. Houses were built by 26 various architecture companies.

Sun, wind, and water provide the area with energy. The construction of wind power plants, solar panels, a heat pump, and a water reservoir in the bedrock ensures 100% local renewable energy resources. The 100% is based on the annual cycle meaning that Bo01 borrows energy from the city system at certain periods, whereas it exports energy when it’s producing a surplus. Based on the local energy conditions E.ON developed a unique concept based on 100% locally renewable energy making Bo01 Sweden’s first climate neutral city district.

Other ecological issues similar to Augustenborg are also addressed by Bo01. For example waste treatment, biodiversity, traffic/transport, and environmental communication show similar contents and conditions as they do in Augustenborg.

The entire process of building up a new residential area is scientifically accompanied and evaluated by the University of Lund. The city of Malmö has also engaged in the “building and living dialogue,” a municipal exchange platform bringing building companies and architects together to discuss sustainable urban development. 

Financing and resources

Augustenborg – Eco City

Funding for the project of Augustenborg came from different sources (partially from local, national and EU-levels). The total amount invested in the Augustenborg area was 28 Mio. (approx. US$38 half of it by the MKB). It also received 3.4 Mio. (approx.. US$4.6) from the Local Investment Programme by the Swedish government. The Swedish Department of Environment and the EU-programme LIFE funded approx. 4.1 Mio. (approx. US$5.5). EU URBAN also supported the renovation area financially. The three key actors Peter Lindhqvist (Malmö’s Service Department), Bertil Nilsson (previous rector of Augustenborg school) and Christer Sandgren (previous CEO of MKB) were the initial personnel that pulled the strings of the entire initiative.

Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

The project of Bo01 was fully granted with approx. 45 Mio. (approx. US$61) from the Swedish government through the Local Investment Programme (LIP) and co-funded by the EU. The Programme included agreements about standards on material, energy, appearance, etc. set by the different participants as the city, the expo and other developers. The funds were basically used for physical changes in technical systems, soil decontamination and infrastructure, and also for information and educational purpose through the “Helix-Centre” – a platform of meeting and linkage. 

Results and impacts

Augustenborg – Eco City

Today almost 90% of the rainwater from roofs and other surfaces leads to the new sustainable urban drainage system established by the initiative. Since the new system was installed there has not been any severe flood or water related problems. Hence, the green space aspect helped the management of former local flood and ecological impacts and increased biodiversity by 50%. In terms of waste separation 80% of the local waste is being collected or reused. The world’s first electric road train is operating in Augustenborg. Also speed limits of 30 km/h have recently been introduced by residents. Despite those significant ecological alterations, also social changes have occurred since the initiative’s launch. Unemployment fell from 30% to 6%, and participation in elections increased from 54% to 79%.

Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

The planning efforts and persistence in Bo01 expo area paid off. In terms of energy 1,400m2 of solar collectors, a heat pump, and a large wind power station were installed providing the area with 100% local renewable energy. New sidewalks and bicycle paths were constructed and a local electric car-pool was established by residents in order to reduce traffic-related problems. 70% of the household waste is now recycled, and organic waste is digested to biogas used for heating. Biodiversity was enhanced through the extension of green spaces and an open rainwater management system. Many international visitors come to learn from the project.

Barriers and challenges

Augustenborg – Eco City

Engaging the public contained a few barriers and conflicts. Since the local population is largely composed of foreign people, communication was a challenge because of language barriers. Also 45% of the population were unemployed before the initiative started and some of them were sceptical about the project’s feasibility, and were concerned about the large increase of green spaces and the drainage system. Thus, an enormous challenge was to encourage stakeholders from the outset, albeit not knowing whether the project will be successful or fail. Continuous exchange of information and trust in stable communications were the instruments which helped cope with most of the barriers and conflicts.

Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

The energy consumption of the houses differed in some cases from the consumption that had been estimated before the first implementation phases of the project. Today, the change of the housing area highly varies in their types and sizes. In fact many young families gave up residence because of the increase of tenure options and the high average of house prices after the new development of Bo01. The area was originally planned for less than one car per household (0.7). Today many residents are driving luxury cars and some people voice a criticism that the lifestyles of the wealthy residents clash with sustainability in Bo01, especially since the poorest in society cannot afford living in the Western Harbour district.  

Lessons learned and transferability

Augustenborg – Eco City

The project of “Ekostaden Augustenborg” is an ongoing project as it made an example for citizen participation according to sustainable urban development. It is a process built on past lessons and the holistic approach providing lessons for similar projects in other cities. The level of citizen participation can be seen as the main success factor of the project. It shows that participation is crucial for urban development, albeit communication and public access to information throughout the process is indispensible. The Malmö methods can be applied in similar neighbourhoods to incorporate sustainability in terms of urban planning. Having more than 800 study visits from international municipalities, companies and NGO’s since the initiative was launched, it constantly attracts worldwide interest in terms of sustainable urban development. 

Bo01 – City of Tomorrow

Many knowledge exchange forums took place learning from the case of Bo01. “Creative Cities”, the “European Union Knowledge Network” and the “A+DS” facilitate and provide approaches from Bo01 and its capacity building through many study visits staging Bo01 as a leading example concerning holistic planning. The entire Western Harbour area now focuses on sustainable development based on the lessons learnt from the first phase development in Bo01. Thus, this project can be considered as ongoing, guiding the concepts to the currently planned neighbourhoods Bo02 (Flagghusen) and Bo03 (Fullrigaren) of the Western Harbour. Bo01 became a leading example of environmental adaption of a densely urban environment not only for the new development areas of Malmö, but internationally as well. The Quality Programme emphasises a list of green practice keys and is evaluated by more than 10 international Universities. The City of Malmö is developing a toolbox with different patterns and strategies for holistic approaches in sustainable urban development programmes. 


City of Malmö (n.d.): Västra Hamnen. The Bo01-area. A city for people and the environment. http://www.malmo.se/download/18.7101b483110ca54a562800010420/

Energie Cities (n.d.): Bo01 City of tomorrow (Malmö – SE). http://www.energy-cities.eu/IMG/pdf/BO01_EN.pdf

Energie Cities (2005): A collection of case studies demonstratzing exemplar “sustainable community” projects across Europe. http://www.energy-cities.eu/IMG/pdf/bshf_projects_europe.pdf

Fais, L. (n.d.): Ecological city districts in Malmö: Bo01, Bo02 (Flagghusen), Bo03 (Fullrigaren).  https://www.educate-sustainability.eu/kb/content/ecological-city-districts-malmo-bo01-bo02-flagghusen-bo03-fullrigaren#

Fossum, T. & Nilsson, P.-A. (2002): Strategies for sustainable building and urban development in Malmö; exemplified by Västra Hamnen and Augustenborg. http://www.irbnet.de/daten/iconda/CIB3650.pdf

Graham, T. (n.d.): World Habitat Awards on Innovation Sustainability and Transfer: Ekostaden Augustenborg. http://www.worldhabitatawards.org/winners-and-finalists/project-details.cfm?lang=00&theProjectID=8A312D2B-15C5-F4C0-990FBF6CBC573B8F

Kazmierczak, A. and Carter, J. (2010): Augustenborg, Malmö: Retrofitting SUDS in an urban regeneration area. <http://www.grabs-eu.org/membersArea/files/malmo.pdf>

External links / documents