Urban Densification and the Sustainable City in Norway: A Study of Drivers and Barriers
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This article-based doctoral thesis addresses the following question: What are the main drivers and barriers of urban densification as planning strategy in the quest for more sustainable cities in Norway? The research uses a mixed-method approach to explore specific aspects of the densification process. One such aspect is the practicability of making denser the sprawling Norwegian cities, and the effects that such gains in density imply for transport, one of the most significant aspects of sustainability. Another aspect investigated is the issue of social acceptability using land prices as a proxy. The analysis, based on a hedonic pricing model for Trondheim, indicates a tendency towards higher prices of dwellings per square metre in denser locations, although some aspects of density seem to produce a contrary effect. The research also delivers a systemic overview of the actors and factors shaping urban development. This analysis applies a multilevel-perspective approach used in sustainability transition studies to study the main factors and actors behind urban densification in Trondheim. Resulting data indicate that despite a strong emphasis in planning towards sustainability, practices behind urban development have not changed much. As an answer to the main question posed above, the main drivers and barriers of urban densification in Norway are as follows. The environmental: Global environmental concerns have driven the adoption of national and local policies towards greater efficiency in the use of natural resources and a decrease in pollution. Urban densification is regarded as an important means to achieve these targets. The most important environmental barrier is the pre-existence of a scattered urban layout, fragmented in the rugged Norwegian geography, which makes it difficult to increase urban density and make substantial gains from recent changes in policy. The social: Demographic changes have facilitated the application of densification policies but entrenched social values, such as freedom of choice, make it difficult to apply restrictive measures, such as urban containment or car-usage restrictions. The economic: Changes towards a knowledge-based economy imply multiple benefits from larger, more intense urban environments; but given the pre-existence of a large sprawled urban form, the sunk investments in infrastructure make it difficult to accelerate urban changes towards denser urban environments. The institutional: The discourse on sustainability has gained strength at almost all institutional levels. However, to a large extent legal frameworks and procedural traditions remain unchanged.
Has partsF. A. Hernández-Palacio 2014. On the feasibility and effectiveness of urban densification in Norway. Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, 2, pp. 83–112.
Hernandez-Palacio, Fabio Alberto; Scherzer, Sabrina; Frøyen, Yngve Karl. The Value of Urban Density. Tema. Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment 2018 ;Volum 11.(2) s. 213-230 https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/5484 (CC BY 4.0)
Hernandez-Palacio, Fabio Alberto. A transition to a denser and more sustainable city: Factors and actors in Trondheim, Norway. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 2017 ;Volum 22. s. 50-62 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2016.06.002