We were travelling for 30 hours, to literally the other side of the world, and you’re expecting it to be more different than it really is. Isn’t that strange? And especially when you’re talking with other city planners you tend to notice how similarly we think about different things.
All of us in the GSE-team were amazed by all the sculptures in Melbourne. It was so exciting to take a walk in the city, not knowing what waits around the corner. My favourite sculpture was in the Docklands. Another thing we noticed was how clean it was. How can we achieve that back home? Sweden is otherwise known to be a clean country, I think. But it is starting to change. Why is that? I think that perhaps Australians have more of an individual responsibility for society and, for example, do more charity work. In Sweden we’re in one way spoiled with that the government takes care of everything, including the litter. Is this a bad consequence of a strong state?
Biggest difference is sprawl
I think the biggest difference in planning in Sweden and in Australia is the urban sprawl. Even small settlements in Sweden have an increased density in the city or town centre, with buildings about 3-4 storeys high. It’s a great task that the planners in Melbourne have in front of them, in trying to achieve the vision of ‘Melbourne 2030’.
The local governments in Sweden have more power over planning issues than in Australia, and the planning schemes tend to be more detailed in Sweden, except for when it comes to heritage and native vegetation, were Australia has stronger regulations. We often hear that ‘compared to you, we don’t have old buildings’. But maybe due to your short history in architecture and buildings you seem to be more aware of their value and perhaps have protected more of this later history of architecture than we have done.
To see the consequences of the drought makes you appreciate what you have more, and it makes you very aware of how the future may unfold. Even if there is just the slightest chance that climate change is a consequence of human behaviour, we must see the necessity of good planning for sustainable development, with higher density for the cities and good public transport.
It will be very interesting to welcome the outgoing team from Australia to Sweden and to see how they find Sweden and our relativly small cities.