HFT meets IBA: #6

Public space, transport and infrastructures for the neighborhood of tomorrow

How can mobility be planned more sustainably in the cities of the future? Experts discussed how public space and infrastructures will change in the neighborhoods of tomorrow in the HFT meets IBA event series.

Copenhagen is considered a paradise for pedestrians and cyclists and is a model for transformation - away from a car city and towards a city for people. Jahn Gehl, a famous architect and urban planner from Copenhagen, was the mastermind here. He and like-minded people are concerned with creating a city for people with a high quality of life that prioritizes the needs of pedestrians and cyclists as well as families and seniors. "Making Cities for People" is also the motto of Büro Gehl. Kristian Villadsen of Büro Gehl presented data from Danish city surveys in his presentation "Streets as Catalysts for Sustainable Behavior."  He said that most people used bicycles for commuting - not primarily because it was a matter of environmental protection, health, or cost savings, but because bicycling in Copenhagen was simply practical, easily accessible, and fast. "We therefore need to create cities where walking or cycling is the most pleasant, the easiest, the most sustainable and the most livable," Villadsen said.

Streets as a catalyst for sustainable behavior

Urban design changes also affect the behavior of the population:  Road traffic in Copenhagen has decreased by 60 percent, from 15,000 cars to 6,000 cars. The number of cyclists using the pedestrian and bicycle bridge into the city center has increased by 20 percent to 36,000 cyclists per day. The number of pedestrians using a bridge into downtown increased by 60 percent, he said. Traffic accidents decreased by 45 percent. Ultimately, he said, people are willing to forgo owning a car if there is good infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Covid 19 pandemic has acted as a catalyst in many places. Many cities already had plans for sustainable development in their drawers, which they then implemented during the lockdown. Shanghai is a case in point. Here, the Gehl office was involved in a "Street Design Guideline" in 2016. In 2021, the transformation of streets into pedestrian zones with urban greenery was implemented in Shanghai.

Solutions in the city center: Higher parking fees and mobility hubs.

Prof. Dr. Lutz Gaspers, mobility researcher and prorector of studies and teaching at HFT Stuttgart, explained from a traffic planning perspective what makes a street a street. The model of adapting to the constantly growing volume of traffic is outdated, he said. Rather, the task today is to reduce inner-city traffic and also to make parking unattractive in cities. Gaspers presented examples from Stuttgart - Tübinger Strasse and Bolzstrasse - which have now been redesigned more for pedestrians. He said pop-up bike lanes have now been created on Theodor-Heuss-Strasse, which is considered Stuttgart's urban highway. The mobility researcher presented historical photos of Arnulf-Klett-Platz in Stuttgart 100 years ago, when there were no eight-lane car lanes, only streetcars and pedestrians: "In principle, we would like to develop to where we were 100 years ago," the mobility researcher said. Overall, he said, private cars are too expensive, even in light of the fact that they take up unused public space 99 percent of the time. He pointed to concepts that would reduce private car traffic in the city center: mobility hubs with rental services for various means of transport, higher fees for parking garages and a city toll.

Stefan Bendiks from the Brussels office Artgineering emphasized that traffic space is above all public space. "What would our houses look like if we designed them like we design our streets?" the urban planner asked, presenting an apartment floor plan where the garage takes up the central position of the living room. "It's about redistribution of space and privilege," he stressed.

He cited Stuttgart as an example of a city with the "most blatant ratios" his office had ever studied.  On the B14 at Österreichischer Platz, he said, everything is subordinated to passive mobility, i.e. cars and streetcars including parking garages. Active walking or cycling is almost impossible. In Bendik's opinion, zebra crossings are also an expression of the balance of power - pedestrians are only allowed to cross the street here, the other space is reserved for cars. Cities need to be planned more for people - and not for cars: "The liveliness of a city, the social interaction between people, depends on the intensity of traffic," he stressed. The more traffic, the less social city life. Bendiks also mentioned tips for reappropriating traffic space from an urban planning perspective: citizen participation, sharing space, revitalizing the local economy, simple aesthetics and linking projects.

Logistics in the city - can it be sustainable?

Mario Flammann, HFT-Stuttgart and "pesch partner architekten stadtplaner" presented new urban logistics approaches. Logistics also plays a role in whether we can feel comfortable in our cities. Online ordering behavior has increased enormously since the Covid 19 pandemic. 40 percent of traffic volume is attributable to commercial traffic, he said. This continues to be a growing challenge in terms of traffic congestion and traffic safety. This is where municipalities need to prepare, he said.There is a whole range of possible solutions - for different problems and user groups. The problem is certainly that companies tend to work against each other rather than with each other in the search for joint solutions in existing buildings.

In model neighborhoods focused on housing, he presented private parcel receiving systems, public neighborhood boxes, multi-user micro-hubs and underground transportation systems. Autonomous parcel deliveries are also under discussion here, he said. Parking garages could also be used for logistics transhipment purposes.

The subsequent discussion also focused on strategies for municipalities and the fear of politicians of incurring the displeasure of citizens as soon as parking spaces are reduced. As a positive example, the "fearless" mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, was mentioned, who announced to ban individual traffic from the city center of Paris by 2022.


HFT meets IBA #6 was moderated by Tom Kwakmann (HFT Stuttgart) and Romina Christen (IBA'27).


Publish date: 13. October 2021 By Susanne Rytina ()