17 February, 2018

Man and nature can successfully coexist

Last summer we decided to check out all the good things that we were hearing about Copenhagen - - climate change adaption, cycling, walkability and modern infrastructure. Arne Nordtorp of the Danish Consulate was good enough to set up numerous meetings over two full days. All the meetings were very interesting and full of adaptable best practices. One meeting with SLA especially resonated with us.

SLA is a Scandinavian based-group of urban quality experts operating within the fields of city nature, urban planning and landscape architecture. Its 75-person team is made up of architects, designers, biologists, planners, planting experts, anthropologists and urban forest engineers. Their goal is an ambitious one: to create a greener, more sustainable; and more livable world where man and nature co-exist. Today SLA does work in numerous countries. I am really looking forward to seeing the work they are currently doing in Detroit’s Monroe block and hope they get the confidential Toronto project they are currently bidding on.

There are a number of excellent SLA projects to highlight - - here are just three:

North West Park after extensive citizen’s co-creation SLA turned a congested former industrial site, in a socially challenged part of Copenhagen, into a colourful and fairytale-like community. They added 100 different tree species, and an advanced lighting design that creates a cascade of colourful stars while also making the park a safe and secure place to play.

The City Dune is a Swedish hillside created in downtown Copenhagen for SEB Bank. Located between two bank headquarters, SLA designed a forested mountain side with a terrain that rises from street level to the second floor. The City Dune is Copenhagen’s first 100% nature based, climate adapted urban space is also a place for all citizens to play and enjoy their green surroundings.

The Soul of Norrebro is a creative project that combines smart rainwater solutions, city nature and local engagement in a new model for climate adaption in today’s cities. With climate change Copenhagen worries about heavy rains that will cause serious flooding. Designed as a water circuit, a series of purifying biotopes collect and clean the rain water in the park. Then the excess water is channeled from the park to the central lakes of Copenhagen. Not only does this project address flooding it creates a number of new urban spaces for enjoyment by the community. This is an especially interesting project since climate change induced heavy rains will affect Toronto and the city has procrastinated approving and funding a storm water management program.

How all three projects address values that I expose for Toronto:

  • North West Park: healthy, inspiring and inclusive.
  • The City Dune: inspiring, healthy and inclusive
  • Soul of Norrebro: sustainable, healthy, inclusive


“we use nature to solve some of today’s hardest urban problems while creating genuine life-quality for all”.

At a time when nature and the environment are being assaulted on a massive scale it is inspiring to see a firm that embraces and compliments nature to create more livable communities.

Thank you Mette Skjold for telling us all about the great things SLA is doing in Scandinavia, China, USA, Australia, France and hopefully in Toronto.


A passionate city builder

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