An analysis of Malmö’s development plan revealed a strong focus on social and water resources, but left much to be desired in relation to materials, biodiversity and energy. This presented a unique opportunity to implement a strategy that focused on resource optimization, by highlighting the environmental, economic and social benefits of an urban development plan founded on sustainability.

This strategy aims to establish the framework for Varvsstadens future identity through a value-based approach to sustainability that can create opportunities for a robust and future-proof urban development, not stuck in rigid certification systems and checklists.


Development Plan

190,000 m²

Malmø, Sweden


Varvsstaden AB


Varvsstaden AB


In progress

2016 –


Partner in charge: Anders Lendager

Project Leader: Stig Ammitzbøll Jørgensen

Team: Nicholas Ransome, Daniel Veenboer, Danae Petrou, Aleksandar Tkalec


Located in south part of Västra Hamnen, Varvsstaden is an attractive area with strong connections to Malmö’s modern history. Previously owned by Kockums Mekaniska Verkstad, for half a century the shipyard was Malmö’s largest workplace, employing over 6000 people. The land is currently owned by the joint company of Peab and Balder, who plan to build 1,500 homes, new facilities for around 5,000 jobs, a primary school and several kindergartens in the area.

The area’s size, qualities and unique location provide the ideal conditions to create a healthy and engaging environment for future residents and visitors alike.

Urban Symbiosis

Instead of seeing the city as a linear system we draw inspiration from nature’s self-sustaining, resilient ecosystems, where all elements are mutually beneficial and nothing goes to waste. Rather than seeing the up to 40m high warehouses as problematic structures to be removed quickly, it makes sense to take their material potential seriously, as they hold the key to creating a unique urban development project. This approach not only preserves the identity that would otherwise be lost, but is also an economically viable solution with clear environmental benefits.

The overarching goal is to plan, design and build Varvsstaden in a way that fosters cooperation and sharing between businesses and residents, thereby creating a “loop” in which resources are kept at their highest potential. The Loop is a new type of urban ecosystem that seeks to boost financial performance
while improving the quality of the environment through urban symbiosis. This optimized metabolic flow will ultimately lead to a reduction of the environmental footprint of all systems involved.

The Loop

To kickstart the transition towards urban symbiosis The Loop makes use of a series of “lighthouse” projects, with the aim of showcasing best available practices that will inform and inspire future development. Each lighthouse project is a manifestation of one of the five resource loops and a visual representation of the quarter it stems from. Together the lighthouses define the identity of Varvsstaden as an interconnected system of six different districts. A public path will guide residents and visitors through the districts, passing by the various lighthouses and raising awareness towards sustainable living and building practices.

  • 1. Varvsstaden’s original development plan

  • 2. Varvsstaden’s future districts stem from the inherent identity of the site

  • 3. A lighthouse emerges from each district as a visual representation of its unique focus

  • 4. The Loop Path connects the six districts, passing through their respective lighthouses

  • 5. Each lighthouse project is a manifestation of one of the five resource loops

  • 6. The lighthouse projects have a ripple effect on their surroundings…

  • 7. …inspiring the future development of Varvsstaden

  • 8. A holistic approach towards sustainability will permeate Varvsstaden’s future identity