The Aalborg Model – transforming a vulnerable housing area into a mixed community.Aalborg, Denmark Environment and Resource efficiency, Local social sustainability, Relations to stakeholders
The Aalborg model is collaboration model focusing on large scale renovations in socially vulnerable living areas. The model has its foundation in a close relationship between the social housing association, local business community, the municipality, the association community and social enterprises. It’s a long-term strategy based on co-creation, which will ensure a good life for the residents of the area. The idea is that every actor must contribute. The model is developed and has been used in two different projects in Denmark’s fourth biggest city, Aalborg. There have been documented a lot of positive changes, which is realised because of: significant physical improvements, a new health house with public and private offers, engagement from the local business community, focus on ensuring diversity in the area, support from a social enterprise and the association community.
In Denmark, in recent years, intensive work has been done to decrease the amount of vulnerable living areas. The government’s approach is based on the fact that social housing associations can be forced, by the government, to tear down or sell up to 60 % of the housing in an area. In March 2018 the government proposed the strategy “no ghettos in 2030” which tightened demands for socially vulnerable areas. The government measures social housing areas on the following criterias: amount of foreigners or descendants of non-western countries, the amount of residents without any connection to the employment market, the amount of residents only with basic education and the residents average income. If a living area performs badly in these criterias, they will be appear on one of the governments lists for socially vulnerable living areas and are defined as so called ‘ghetto areas’.
Aalborg East is an area in the fourth largest city in Denmark, Aalborg. The area was built as a satellite city in the 1970’s and with great focus on social housing. Since then, the area grew bigger and unfortunately social problems have followed. In the past 13 years a lot attention has gone into turning the negative development around and the last couple of years have shown significant results due to cocreation where the area’s actors come together to improve the lives of the area’s residents. Issues with a low living standard, unemployment, health issues and general well being has been tackled, and the area has been opened to the public. It is now acknowledged as a thriving and fast developing area with growth and exciting new projects:
- Sallingsundvej, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
- Tambosundvej, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
- Fyrkildevej, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
- Blåkildevej, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
- Ravnkildevej, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
- Himmerland Boligforening (project owner)
- Aalborg Municipality
- Business Network 9220
- The Danish National Building Fund
Actions carried out
- The renovations were completed by using a variety of building types, appealing to a wider residential composition, improvement of the outdoor areas and contemporary design.
- Construction fields have been sold to private investors who have contributed to the area with freestanding house blocks, which gives the area an architectural lift, view and densification
- Public and private offers have been made more accessible with a new health house. In the building one can find general practitioners, dermatologists, a pharmacy, a dental practice and other health offers. The health house yearly welcomes 10.000 people on training courses, which makes the area more visible for people who would not visit Aalborg East on a daily basis. They experience the positive development and see how the area has changed.
- FOKUS Folkeoplysning is contributing with the social enterprise Kaffe Fair plus a fitness centre for the residents of the area. Himmerland Housing Association also has its local service office in the building.
- Himmerland Boligforening took over the secretarial function in the local business network with 180 members, including local companies as well as big international organisations like: Siemens, Aalborg Portland and Aalborg University. The network works, among other things, to increase the educational and employment levels among the local resident.
- All this creates a sense of security and it makes life easier for the local residents. The business network is placed inside the new health house.
The average household income has increased by 19 % in the period 2011-2017. For Aalborg Municipality as a whole the increase was 10,4 %. For every 1000 resident the amount of criminal judgement in selected categories has decreased with 53,22 % in the same period. A higher educational level amongst the youths of the area has been realized. The amount of 20-24 year old who have basic education as the highest level of completed education and who isn’t currently enrolled in education has fallen from 25,2 % to 18,4 % in the period 2013-2017. Employment has equally increased. From 2011 where 42,5 % where in employment to 45 % in 2017. In the same period Aalborg Municipality as a whole experienced a slight decrease. Since 2017 the positive trends have kept on, and we have seen a continue with better stats in every category. The last newly renovated dwellings will be done in 2021, and then we can get a complete overview over the development.
Why it works
There two ground pillars behind the success. Tenant involvement and mutually binding strategic partnerships. The whole process has been vastly affected by tenant democracy. For every one of the five locations, we have had building committees consisting of tenants, and every major decision has been decided at attendant meetings. The key is early involvement and close dialog, honesty and empathy – especially during rehousing. Strong and strategic partnerships is also important, because a housing association cannot do all this by themselves. They need strong partnerships with high demands working towards the same goals. For us it was important to have partnerships with both the public and private sector. Our job is facilitating the cocreation and to secure the strong partnerships. To ensure quality we set up a local steering committee and an advisory board with representatives from big corporations, investors and the former assistant secretary general of the UN, Finn Reske-Nielsen. With strong engagement from both tenants, surrounding communities, the municipality and the business community it has been easier to make effective changes.
Chief development officer