Vice Mayor of Oslo Hanne E. Marcussen Joins Transnational Meeting in Oslo
From February 1 - 3 Oslo organised the fifth Transnational Meeting in the 'sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe' network. Central topic of the meeting was 'Transforming for Intensified Use'. This was not only discussed in different work sessions, but the Oslo Team also took us into the field where we explored five sites. One of the highlights of the Transnational Meeting, was the meet and greet with the stakeholders of Hovinbyen. During one afternoon stakeholders worked together with the network members on models and exchanged views on how the site could be transformed. The icing on the cake was the visit and support of Vice Mayor of Oslo Hanne E. Marcussen. She gave an inspirational speech and took the time to talk with each of the groups to learn more about their visions on the site. We want to share her speech with you in this article.
Welcome to Oslo, and to Hovinbyen! It’s an honour to have you all here, and I hope you have all been able to share ideas and learn from each other these days.
As a relatively small city, at the outskirts of Europe, international cooperation is very important for Oslo. We have a lot to learn from the experiences and solutions of other cities - and sometimes we even learn more about ourselves! I am happy Oslo is taking part in this URBACT project, under the leadership of the City of Antwerp. We have already seen benefits from this cooperation, and I am sure we will see more in the future.
As we all know, cities play an important role in working out the big puzzles of our time: How can we create societies that are both socially, economically and environmentally sustainable? How can we make sure that we leave dynamic, and at the same time robust communities for our children and grandchildren?
I believe that we in this room have a role to play in the development of Europe. Through the URBACT programme we have established a good framework, with strong commitment and, I must say, also a strict and ambitious timetable. This is combined with hands-on experience from the wide range of cities involved - we have former socialist cities like Brno and Baia Mare, industrial suburbs like Casoria and Solin, international business hubs like Düsseldorf, Barcelona and Antwerp - and the fast-growing capitals of Vienna and Oslo.
As you know, we are now in Hovinbyen - an area the same size as what is usually defined as the city centre. Hovinbyen, or Hovin City, as the name means, is a key transformation area in Oslo. If you ask the man on the street, most people will not be able to show Hovinbyen on a map - some might not even have heard the name before. It is definitely part of the “fringe” of Oslo - a large area dominated by industry, businesses and infrastructure - placed between the centre of Oslo and the suburbs of what we call the Grorud valley. With sky-rocketing housing prices in the centre of Oslo, the interest for developing Hovinbyen is increasing, and there is a broad cross-party support in the City Council for developing this part of Oslo.
What is really important for me is that when we develop new areas for housing, we must also be aware of what kind of life we plan for there. In Hovinbyen we will create the neighbourhoods of the future - and it will be important to ensure that people here can live a good life - with access to parks, with mixed use of the space and the buildings, good architectural quality and so on. Today, parts of Hovinbyen have serious challenges with air pollution and noise from the traffic. This is a health hazard for the future, unless we deal with these problems now. We have to create residential areas where it’s easy to live without your own car - with good pedestrian and bike tracks and access to public transport. This has to be in place before the first people move in!
What we build today can shape the city for many generations to come. We cannot expect people to live like they did in the last century, where urban development was based on the new mobility provided by cars. In addition, we need to consider climate adaptation in everything we plan. We know the weather is changing, and neighbourhoods must be able to cope with extreme rainfall.
Oslo is generally not a very divided city, compared to many others. Still, with the development we see in the rest of the world and also in Norway – it has never been more important to create inclusive neighbourhoods. We need to get out and meet each other, and we need to make sure that all our citizens feel part of a community. Our City Government Policy Platform emphasizes strategies for more inclusive growth. New ways of organizing housing and jobs for all, especially in areas like Hovin City, will define how successful we are. I believe architects and urban developers have a crucial role in designing an inclusive city, a place we can all belong.
In short, we are all facing big challenges - and we need to find new and innovative ways to move ahead. I believe we will only find these new solutions if we work together. That is why meetings and events like these are so important.
As you may know, we have had discussions with our colleagues in Antwerp, about hosting a joint conference in June, where the URBACT project and a parallel network within EUROCITIES will take part. The secretariats at URBACT and EUROCITIES will be happy to support this, and I had a kind letter of confirmation from the Alderman in Antwerp, .Rob. Ven de Velde last week, in which he also expressed his strong interest in working together on this.
The event is planned for 12 to 14 June in the heart of Brussels. We have been offered the venue of the Norwegian delegation on Place Schuman – right next to the EU Commision – for the main event on the morning of 13 June. This will give all of our cities and networks a unique opportunity to highlight the huge potentials and challenges of transforming the urban fringe. I am sure that Isabelle and the staff from Oslo will share more details about this tomorrow, and look forward to seeing the programme as it emerges.
I won’t be able to stay for the rest of the workshop, but you have met my colleague, Marie, and she will stay here for the rest of the afternoon. I look forward to hearing more from her about the ideas and your work as a network and as experts. I look forward to the new ideas!! [Please share your great ideas and insights with us!!]
I hope to see some of you again sometime during the project.
We will visit Vienna in May (as a bilateral visit) and perhaps Brussels in June.
Thank you for your attention, and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the programme and make the most of your stay in Oslo!
Hanne E. Marcussen
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