In the northern part of Sweden, the town of Gellivare is being undermined – quite literally. As the mining industry expands, and pockets of valuable iron ore are prospected at an increasing rate, the ground is cracking, crumbling and imploding under parts of the town. Areas are quickly becoming uninhabitable, so houses need to be physically moved or vacated and torn down. 

This poses enormous challenges to the survival of the town. But is it possible to relocate whilst safeguarding the identity of the city and keeping sense of place somewhat intact?

This is the challenge being taken up by City Move Interdesign, a joint initiative of the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) and Icsid that seeks to use modern design methods to help relocate people.

The project will look at the possibilities of creating new spaces for people, both in a human and technological way, when homes, workplaces, tourist attractions and meeting places have to be relocated or even left behind.

“The situation will eventually create major social and economic problems if nothing is done,” says Robin Edman, CEO of SVID. “To create a new and attractive place to live, work and visit is the biggest challenge. But insightful and responsible town leaders are willing to invest time and money to find solutions that will make their community prosper.”

“The challenge is to not draw-up a new city plan and move building blocks but rather to capture the essence of living in Gellivare and to transplant that,” says Edman.

SVID sees design processes and competencies as important sources of creativity and constructive new thinking. The user-focused design process is a creative way of finding solutions from a holistic point of view, and Interdesign is an exciting forum in which to generate exciting ideas.

According to Edman, design can help Gellivare by:

•  creating a visionary future; it imagines and visualises possible scenarios to support strategic decision-making

•  promoting and implementing a human-centred approach; it turns inventions into innovations that meet people’s needs, aspirations and abilities

•  working through the process of iterative problem-solving; it addresses complex situations with multi-dimensional thinking and synthesises micro and macro to create holistic solutions

•  facilitating co-creation and interactive cross-disciplinary innovation; it sheds new light on the situation and builds on work that has already been done

•  further increasing the perceived value of living, working and visiting the region; it creates attractiveness, positive thinking and increased interest.

The project also involves the creation of a knowledge bank, a centre that will become a global focal point for the solving of similar problems elsewhere in the world. The knowledge bank will create interest in the Gellivare region as well.

Icsid, in cooperation with its member organisations, has been running Interdesign workshops since 1971. The purpose is to analyse, develop and suggest solutions for problems of local and global relevance. Design competences from all over the world will meet for two intensive weeks during Interdesign to study and develop the subject from a local, national and global perspective.

City Move Interdesign will take place from March 22 to April 3, 2009. 

www.svid.se/citymove 

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