Avoid the silo mentality
Søren Hansen, Project Director of Ramboll’s Planning and Urban Design says that outstanding masterplanning is about connecting different layers of the city – in various ways.
“We need to connect sewer systems with transport networks, parks and buildings. But we also need to forge connections between the technical solutions, the governance structure and the social and cultural offerings, if we are to create a city that is not only sustainable but also liveable,” he explains. In practice, however, working across different disciplines and sectors can be challenging. According to Søren Hansen, the silo mentality – the mindset present when the experts involved in a project are only focused on their own fields of expertise – can be a major hurdle in masterplanning:
“Masterplans are best solved with one, holistic solution. If experts have tunnel vision, tackling problems by focusing only on their own fields, it can be hard for them to grasp the value gained from an extensive, cross-disciplinary plan,” he says.
In Denmark municipalities, private companies and knowledge institutions have set up several partnerships to avoid this silo mentality and accelerate green transitions in cities. These partnerships help municipalities form a clear-cut vision for their cities and define specific focus areas for achieving the overall goal.
American guests inspired by holism
Copenhagen’s Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs Morten Kabell says:
“We have focused on making Copenhagen a more liveable city by creating urban spaces that invite Copenhageners to make greater use of the city in new ways. We were the first city to be named the world’s most liveable city twice in a row, and now our focus on cycling has earned us the honour of being the world’s most bicycle-friendly city.”
Other trademarks of Copenhagen are its holistic approach to urban development and its outreach to citizens and investors, features that the American delegation also noticed on their bike tour.
“I’m very inspired by the holistic approach to cities I’ve seen here in Copenhagen. We’re definitely going to keep in mind that cities are built to be inhabited by people,” said Mayor Jeri Muoio from West Palm Beach, Florida, just before she biked across Cirkelbroen.
Holism and public involvement are also keywords that Professor Malik Benjamin believes define future urban development.
“If we want to make smart changes and add value to our cities, not just in terms of dollars and spreadsheets, but for citizens’ quality of life, we need to move to a more open, transdisciplinary conversation,” he says.