Washington University Students for International Collaboration on the Environment

Utopian Veneers

Karen, WUSICE China Liaison

Hello Delegates!!! First let me express my profound amazement at how talented and exceptional all of you are–it inspires me everyday to know that we have been able to find such a fantastic cohort for our first conference. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You all have made our tireless efforts worth it.

My older sister is currently in Copenhagen studying architecture, and during a visit to Stockholm, Sweden, she came across a Green Utopia City–the best 3 words I can think of to describe it. It’s called Hammarby Sjöstad. An entirely new city created with sustainability embedded in all aspects of its design… a wonderful idea, yes? But what struck me as my sister described me was her comment: “It’s a city, yes, but there’s barely anyone living there.”


Quite simply, it’s too expensive for many of the people who lived there before to return, or take advantage of this “utopia.” So we see firsthand how important sustainability efforts must be thought of simultaneously with urban planning and existing socio-economic fabrics that lie beneath a city. The question I must ask, then, is how? How to unite all these factors, how to create a city, a world where sustainibility is not an independent variable, but interlinked with all the variables that build a society, a world?

Check out the city here:



One response

  1. Michael Craig

    That city looks pretty awesome, I agree! It also reminds me a lot of a similar project in Dubai (article here http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/arts/design/26masdar.html); it’s a completely sustainable city, but it’s also enclosed and in the middle of the desert – not exactly a model all cities can follow, or at least not a model cities can follow without sharply segregating classes.

    In response to your question, I’d say if you know the answer to that, you should go ahead and cash in your idea and retire. But seriously, I think it will just come down to a change of values: once people’s values change, they may be more receptive to sustainable cities, so cities will naturally shift towards the models we see springing up.

    October 16, 2010 at 8:35 pm

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