Sweden has a track record of addressing issues at a widespread and efficient manner that often produces homogenous and isolated conditions. Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city and a major port and technology center on the western (North Sea) coast of the country, has had a particularly vivid experience of the economic and social transformations that are reshaping cities in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In addition, as a coastal city shaped by shipping and industry, it faces the challenges of sustainability, resilience and adaptation in relation to climate change, human migration, and increasingly uneven distribution of income and opportunity. The heterogeneous Gothenburg of today struggle to adapt to the rigid built environment that was pre-designed for a typical group of people. Redevelopments of the northern post-industrial port of Lindholmen showcase how a mono-use approach have resulted in generic forms of architecture. There is little remnant of the historical heritage of the city; and “character” is built on the automobile. Despite an influx of students, tech workers and working professionals, there is a lack of public spaces that encourages social use.
As an alternative to Gothenburg’s top-down, large-scale development model, we propose incremental, infill, informal interventions to create a network of river-centric social amenities specific to the needs of each community. The goal is to decentralize the methods of production, delivery, and use of spaces within an urban neighborhood to support diverse people groups and lifestyles. This proposal brings together the industrial, recreational, and educational assets of Gothenburg. After analyzing the assets and potentials of each site, we selected Ringon, Frihammen and South Lindholmen as areas for intervention. Ringon is the last remaining industrial waterfront site in central Gothenburg. The area is host to a diverse immigrant and ‘Swedish’ blue-collar population, along with and an emerging artist collective and light industrial tenants. In addition to a surplus of industrial land in Ringon, the majority being underutilized storage facilities and heavy manufacturing, the strategy of adaptive reuse is built upon to further accommodate new collectives that bring new forms of culture into the city. Ringon becomes a generative site for initiating a new type of nimble and spontaneous development to be appropriated and deployed on other underutilized waterfront sites such as the Frihamnen Recreational Harbor and South Lindholmen Co-Learning Pier. Using the water as a medium for spatial connection, our intervention makes a commitment to a different scale of river culture that is both nimble and builds upon informal community assets.