Down At The Docks

Malmö, Sweden: Day Twelve

There’s been lots written and said about the Melbourne Docklands redevelopment over the years. Much of it has been quite critical of the design treatment of the open spaces, the poorly planned provision of stuff for residents, in particular. Glitzy restaurants and million dollar apartments doth not a neighbourhood make, apparently. I am keen to see if things were different in other dockland redevelopment precincts.

I’m not well acquainted with the redevelopment of the docklands area of Malmö in Sweden. I was aware on my last visit to Sweden in 1996 (I think), of the proposal to construct a bridge linking Sweden to Denmark. This very bridge was the one we crossed today by train, along with up to 20,000 others (by road and rail) on their commute back and forth between the two countries. If only we could build a light rail to Doncaster…

Notwithstanding this, I was very keen to visit Malmö. I’ve read a bit about the rejuvenation there, and their advancements in alternative transport campaigns and infrastructure. One thing that did catch my attention was their “No More Stupid Car Trips” campaign. This is the type of city I’ve wanted to visit.

Our guide, Fredrick, met us off the train at Malmö C and took us for an informative tour of the docklands precinct. My initial impression was much like my impressions of the Melbourne Docklands precinct; expansive, hard, exposed, unpopulated and mostly devoid of an identifiable character or human scale. In comparison to Melbourne, it’s been a riotous success.

I accept that I’m in no position to comment or form any type of authoritative opinion, really. But, out of curiosity, I visited the dock areas around Copenhagen earlier today and formed the opposite view of it, to that which I formed in Malmö, except it too was largely unpopulated. Old dock areas must be tricky to get right, if these examples are anything to go by.

I’ll be in Hamburg, Dublin and London over the next few days and weeks. Each have undertaken redevelopment activities around their redundant maritime precincts. After visiting each of these I’ll have more to form an opinion on, I hope.

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