Master´s Thesis 2020 Urban Challenges

Elin Westin


The year is 2031. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) has fallen by about 45% from 2010 to this year of 2031. With great effort the climate crisis has been averted and the global warming has been limited to 1.5 °C. This has been accomplished by radical changes in society. The world is different, and has to stay that way.

This thesis will focus on how the changes that have to happen to reach the climate goals may change the architecture of the city. The chosen climate goals will be taken from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in combination with the objectives set by the swedish government (Sveriges miljömål).

In this future, the societal structure has adapted to a circular economy, which replaces the take-make-waste system. Places created for the consumption of products will be diminished and function differently.

As a way to research through design, Nordstan in Gothenburg is chosen as a visionary example in a sustainable scenario. Today, these blocks are joined together as a shopping mall. The idea is to explore how urban architecture and the public spaces may be reshaped in a place that used to rely on unsustainable qualities. This site is also chosen because of the densification of the urban areas in Sweden. Nordstan, with its location next to the central station, will probably stay as the most central point of Gothenburg, even if the city expands in the future.

The purpose of this thesis is to envision and explore what it would mean for the built environment if the goals for sustainability where to be reached at their deadline, the year of 2030. Instead of asking the question ’Is this possible?’ this thesis explores the outcome at the finish line. A problem today is that the high demands for sustainability makes a lot of people feel like they have to sacrifice comfort and wellbeing. By showing a positive outcome, the future may not seem so bad or impossible. This need for radical changes also gives an opportunity to make better solutions. The aim is to raise a discussion on the subject: If we make it – what will a sustainable future look like?