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When cities can't be torn down or built from scratch, another path toward carbon neutrality is needed. Low2No engages the messy, difficult conditions that shape our cities and proposes
a way to get from here to there.

Kun kaupunkeja ei voida purkaa tai rakentaa täysin uudestaan, tarvitaan toisenlainen keino, jonka avulla kaupungit voivat siirtyä kohti hiilineutraaliutta.­ Low2No-malli tarttuu vaikeisiin haasteisiin ja viitoittaa tietä kohti hiiletöntä tulevaisuutta.

The Model

Recent attempts to tackle the carbon challenge from through city-making have tended to use one of two predominant models. Ground up cities that take advantage of near tabula rasa and therefore a lack of legacy conditions to contend with, and pilot districts that exist on the fringes of cities.

Ground-up Cities: new cities typically sanctioned by governments in un- or underdeveloped areas built from scratch; often in developing countries with high economic and population growth. Timelines for completion average two decades. Examples include Masdar, Dong Tan and New Songdo City.

Pilot Districts: Areas within or at the margins of existing cities that have become available for redevelopment due to changes in land use (e.g. decommissioned military or logistical facilities). New districts are typically high profile projects that give city leadership an opportunity to rebrand and reorient the city’s economy. Examples include Treasure Island, Hammarby Sjostad, etc.

These models have been very successful at uncovering high and low barriers to implementation. But they both approach planning the sustainable city from above. From this position, the overlap, intersection, conflict and complexity that define the city remain largely abstract. Here, the schematic is the central tool of the designer.

Low2No engages the existing city and aims to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions. 

Low2No is a model of design and construction which delivers a more sustainable, built environment, and lays a foundation for ecological urban living. Low2No engages the existing city and aims to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions.

Low2No signifies a continuous development project striving for a gradual transition "from low carbon to no carbon" urban construction, as well as for a sustainable, healthy, and pleasant living environment. Furthermore, it aims at enhancing sustainable ways of living, and societal urban environment. One of the goals is to constantly monitor carbon emissions, and to reduce energy consumption. Among the main characteristics of the model is a holistic development and design which combines the traditional planning at the construction phase with plans for actual living and use. The points of emphasis of the Low2No model will evolve over the years, and may vary from one project to another.

Development of the Low2No model consists of energy-efficient and low carbon design and construction which result in sustainable built environment. However, energy-efficiency related to buildings and techniques is only one aspect sustainable urban planning: Creation and adoption of sustainable ways of consumption which increase the well-being of inhabitants also has a central role. The goal is therefore to alter people's conceptions regarding the surrounding they live in, and establish new forms both for construction and living. The development project will generate these new models and new type of urban culture. 

Low2No approaches the city from the side, oblique, bottom and top. Policy, finance and culture are the Low2No designer's central capacities.

Over the coming months, Sitra will be further developing the Low2No model as a new focus area of our work. In the mean time, please visit our Essays section to read  more about the sustainability, carbon and the built environment.

Last edited on September 19th, 2011