Adapting Nordic principles for US cities

01 august 2017
Fumi Kikuyama, Environmental Engineer in Ramboll US, shares her thoughts on how US metropolises could be inspired by their Nordic counterparts.
Bishan Park, Singapore

Bishan Park, Singapore


By Martin Zoffmann

Born, raised and graduated in Japan with solid work experience from Ramboll’s office in Chicago, Fumi Kikuyama has already seen a lot of the exciting things this world has to offer. However, since she had never been to the Nordics before, so she was very excited when she got the chance to go to Copenhagen in June of this year to attend the Copenhagen Urban Lab.

The Copenhagen Lab event was – in brief – a kind of case competition where young talents from different parts of the world got together in order to collaborate on one specific case for 9 days. A demanding exercise demanded that the team became familiar with the local conditions.
“The Nordic countries have a good reputation and are known for being concerned with environmental and climate-related issues. However, I was still impressed by the Nordic cities’ strong focus on social benefits and progressive solutions within areas like water, environment and energy,” Fumi Kikuyama states.

 “In Copenhagen I was very excited to experience all the greenness, the walkability, the extremely many bicycles as well as the driverless Metro system which is a great example of smooth and efficient underground transportation. Also, the high number of people hanging out the streets and parks, often surrounded by cool urban nature, was very inspiring. Copenhagen is definitively a ‘liveable’ city and cities like Chicago could learn a lot from its calmness and focus on sustainability.”

Still ahead

The specific case that Fumi worked on together with her Copenhagen Lab team is a lake in the centre of the city (Skt. Jorgen’s Lake) which might be transformed into a blue-green water reservoir and to play a crucial role in the city’s cloudburst mitigation.

The team’s proposal for a redesign of the lake and its surroundings contains inspiration from Chicago where an adjacent lake and river was recently made more accessible and more attractive for people.

“Several large cities in the US have started to implement interesting concepts that combine urban planning and climate adaptation. However, many of them might not yet be as far as the biggest Nordic cities, so even though inspiration can go both ways, it seems like the Nordics are still ahead within urban liveability,” Fumi reflects.

The proposal also includes transformation of a street into a ‘blue-green’ boulevard and having vegetation in the lake that purifies the water. It was presented at the ‘Embrace the Water’ conference in Gothenburg.

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