To create vibrant, sustainable and liveable public places, collaborations between the public, private, non-profit sector and civil society are crucial. To create a network between diverse stakeholders and to facilitate a strategy, agenda and place brand, joined efforts and a dedicated person to facilitate this process is required. In Oslo, several innovative business models have been developed to ensure that such a position is structured as a paid job to ensure high quality consultancy and the proper time to realise events and programming of public places. In the following you can read about three different examples that may provide you with inspiration on how you could create an innovation model in your city. You can find further information and the Local Business Compass that covers several sustainable placemaking models in Oslo, Norway.
Visit Løkka is a non-profit organisation which aims at securing and developing economic and cultural activities in Grünerløkka, a popular neighbourhood in Oslo, explained CEO Jan Robert Johnsen. The organisation aims at creating a vibrant urban life with as many visitors and users as possible.
Moreover, Visit Løkka strategically is working on improving the area and creating a distinct destination - turning a space to a place. The organisation was founded in 2017, and is more than just a chamber of commerce as it is also considering cultural and social aspects and has over a hundred local businesses and institutions that joined as members. They range from ‘mum and dad’ shops, to chain brands, to cafés. In cooperation with the borough, jobs are given to youth and safe and liveable public places are developed.
The organisation also started market days in Grünerløkka in collaboration with cultural organisations, shops, and gastronomy to showcase Grünerløkka’s unique spirit. Visit Løkka has also established KulturHUB Grünerløkka which is a hub consisting of local cultural institutions that update each other on ongoing activities and establish cooperation and support each other. The organisation finances itself from membership fees and public funding to contribute to a more liveable, sustainable and vibrant Grünerløkka (Visit Løkka 2020).
The association has a unique innovation business model that stands behind the public place which Øystein Aurlien shared with us. Around the square are two libraries, local restaurants and cafés, as well as a variety of activities are organised: for example at Skatten. The square benefits from benches and plant boxes which were a collaborative effort with activists such as Matti Lucie Arentz. (Reich et al. 2020) The association behind the square aims at combining profit with corporate social responsibility.
The strategy behind the association at Tøyen Torg is to create a place with an identity everybody can relate to and to provide a variety of activities for different target groups.
Furthermore, the aim is to create local businesses and the local community to experiment and pilot change based on a concrete agenda. The association consists of four different stakeholders: property owners, the borough, the local businesses (including stores, cafés and restaurants around the square) and neighbourhood organisations. A consultant is aiming at establishing new partnerships, attracting external sponsors and organising a varied programme with different activities for the varied target groups. The aim is to improve the liveability of the area for the community and also increase the revenues of the businesses and properties.
The collaboration between Aslaug Tveit, Kristin Solhaug Næss, and Øyvind Tanum developed the Stedskaping Platform with the specific goal to empower inhabitants to undertake neighborhood projects themselves with support from the municipality and other professional. The platform itself is a tool for bottom-up co-production, and therefore offers the functions to vote on projects and crowdfunding. Regarding urban development, Aslaug Tveit explains,
“We try to change the system.”
This ambition is brought forward in the platform through intentionally transforming the inhabitants into project leaders and thus giving them ownership over the project. Moreover, within the Stedskaping Platform, the inhabitants - turned project leaders - experience capacity building and feelings of competency due to the availability and application of a variety of tools ranging from placemaking to tactical urbanism to see real changes in their public space from their own initiative.
Aslaug, Kristin, and Øyvind conducted detailed research in several municipalities and have planned four pilots ranging in size and geographic location in Norway in 2021. The four pilot groups will go through six toolboxes they have developed, which contain detailed information on which tasks are upcoming to give people a safe and clear guide. The toolboxes range from participatory processes, idea creation, and need assessment to design, mobilizing people, raising money to realise the project.
The different pilots will have the chance to exchange and share their knowledge, especially as each pilot group links to its own unique context and inhabitant subgroups. The plan is to upscale the Stedskaping Platform in Norway and potentially internationally to make the creation of public spaces more accessible and feasible for citizens, and also to create better collaborations with the public sector. The platform has the potential to create cheaper and more democratically developed public places and may challenge and change the current system of how public places are created.
Clara J. Reich