"Hug the Streets" explored the value and the possibilities of creating a green multifunctional infrastructure by parking trees where today cars are parked: the tree-parking. The project exploited the powerful symbolic value of trees as innovation agents that promote the citizens' wellbeing and stimulate synergies between the city infrastructures for soft mobility, energy and water.
A main task in the project has been developing "The tree as a method", a methodological approach to participatory co-creation with the stakeholders, for planning and design of street trees. The method was developed in response to the observed challenge that street trees that are written into planning documents tend to be absent when the streets are finished. By making the street tree the central actor of the planning process, we could investigate how the stakeholders draw, discuss and reimagine the street, and through this avoid the premature rejection of street trees in planning.
We employed The tree as a method as a tool in the interviews and workshop that focused on the street scale. Interestingly, although the attitude towards street trees are dominantly positive, the reoccurring statement would be "Just not in this street". This status quo was challenged during the participatory design workshops, exploring three approaches: chase the standard, change the education, challenge the professionals.
Moving from street to city scale - trying to answer the question "If not in this street, then where?" - we have used the case of Oslo to create cartographies of opportunities: "Hotspots for trees". By overlaying several incentive parameters for introducing trees to a specific street, some hotspots emerge where there are two or more overlapping interests.
The project outcomes were delivered according the workplan. It is worth mentioning the two workshops that gathered 20-25 external participants. The first one focused on challenges and opportunities on the street level, while second one focused on urban planning aspects. Participants covered a wide spectrum of actors, from architects and urban planners to maintenance personnel of different Oslo municipality's agencies, as well political representatives.
Three journal articles and three conference papers. In addition, there have been four technical reports and nine presentations at conferences and seminars. Two workshops have been arranged that gathered ca. 20-25 external participants. The first one focused on challenges and opportunities on the street level, while second one focused on urban planning aspects. Participants to the workshops covered a wide spectrum of actors, from architects and urban planners to maintenance personnel of different municipality's agencies from Oslo as well political representatives.
'Hug the Streets' proposes and prepares the ground for a transition from car to people-centred urban design and planning, by examining if and how multifunctional city-wide green infrastructures can make for more liveable streets. Using the symbolic power of trees as change agents - parking trees where cars are parked today, we aim to make streets more liveable. Tackling demographic and climatic challenges that Nordic cities will be facing in the coming decades, we propose green multifunctional infrastructure solutions. We will: explore the possibilities and the value of integrating above and below ground systems for energy, water, and soft mobility, with natural ecosystems; propose integrated concepts; and enable relevant stakeholders to materialise the proposed solutions.
In order to tackle the complex and interrelated challenges to realise this idea, we shall make use of an interdisciplinary and holistic, stakeholder-driven approach, combining perspectives from landscape architecture, engineering, participatory and sustainable design, political science, arboriculture and social anthropology. Concentrating on selected Norwegian cities, we will work at three intertwined scales: the human, the street and the city scale. At the human scale, we will explore how to conceptualise urban infrastructures and map and involve the stakeholders that develop, maintain and use them in co-creating liveable streets. At the street scale, we will map practices and interests, conflicts and synergies, to identify opportunities for fostering change, and to develop and evaluate a portfolio of concepts for multifunctional green infrastructures. At the city scale, we will explore the value of a city-wide rollout of such infrastructures, and develop and equip stakeholders with the means for fostering the transition towards it.