Urban Transition Zones in Visby

Planning Cities Commission held the annual seminar in cooperation with Region Gotland in Visby on 21–24 October 2018. About 40 participants from UBC cities together with ten local planners joined the seminar.

Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage city and the main town on Gotland with 25 000 inhabitants, is located on the northwest coast of the island, about 100 km from the Swedish mainland.

The topic of the seminar was “Urban Transition Zones - Sustainable urban transformation in the context of a small historic city” and the main aim of the seminar and workshop was to re­flect and give suggestions on the development of two areas close to the historic town and the medieval city wall, the Inner Harbour and the East Centre. One important challenge for the city is how to create urban space for se­asonal flexibility and better connect the historic town centre with the modern city.
On Monday Region Gotland introduced the workshop sites with presentations from Christian Hegardt, city architect and Elene Negussie, World Heritage site manager. A sunny afternoon in Visby was spent with guided tour by bus and walks to the workshop areas. In the evening elected officials joined the group for dinner in the Fornsalen museum, with a great performance by the Gotland Balalaika Orchestra.

Meit Fohlin, regional commissioner and former mayor, stressed the importance of Region Gotland’s continuing active involvement in the UBC. Björn Grönholm, chairman of UBC Sustainable Cities Commission, thanked resigning Planning Cities Commission chairman Niels-Peter Mohr for many years of dedication to UBC and Planning Cities.

Tuesday morning Alexander Ståhle, landscape architect, researcher and CEO for the urban design studio Spacescape in Stockholm reflected on activity-based planning and the trends that affect small cities in his key note lecture titled Closer Together – the future of small towns.

This gave inspiration for the workshop sessions, with four groups working with the two sites all Tuesday and Wednesday morning. A new steering group was presented on Wednesday as was the new chairwoman for Planning Cities Commission, Paulina Szewczyk from the city of Gdynia. The workshop results were presented to invited guests, politicians and media representatives.

Niels-Peter Mohr concluded the workshop and his time as chairman, and was thanked by Paulina Szewczyk and the new steering group. Region Gotland thanked the participants for their committed work in a successful seminar.

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