Sustainable solutions to complex urban challenges

24 August 2018
One of the biggest challenges of urban planning is factoring in the various public and private needs - without losing sight of sustainability. In the Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge, students from all over the world worked together to develop innovative solutions to complex urban challenges.


Dr. Astrid Könönen

Dr. Astrid Könönen

T: +49 40 302020-109

Peter Andreas Norn

Senior Market Manager
T: +45 5161 5932
M: +45 5161 5932

Using HafenCity in Hamburg and Nordhavn in Copenhagen as practical examples, students from the Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen Business School and HafenCity University in Hamburg partnered up to tackle global environmental and social challenges for urban spaces, such as climate change, income disparities and community building.

Ramboll supports the Urban Challenge and a number of Ramboll’s experts provided insight from the world of consulting during the intensive weeks of work. One of them, Dr. Astrid Könönen from the Hamburg office, says:

- With our focus on urban, regional and social development, we are already tackling the urban challenges of the future with our clients. So, we are delighted that we can inspire young talents with our approach and hope to see some students again as they have also inspired us with their fresh thinking.

Working across cultures

For several weeks, the students have worked together in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary teams to analyse and compare the areas of HafenCity and Nordhavn, and identify citywide needs and challenges in the environmental, social and economic realms. Based on these case studies, the different teams had to come up with sustainable and innovative solutions to the urban challenges they identified.

The course was kicked off in Hamburg in the beginning of August and culminates in a case competition at Ramboll’s headquarters in Copenhagen today, where the students present their ideas.

Nature based street design, floating platforms and urban farming

The students’ ideas are solutions to a variety of different challenges, but they have two things in common: it’s all about people and sustainability. One team suggested solar panel bike lanes, nature-based drains, communal spaces and green lane separators to transform the route from Nordhavn to central Copenhagen to a green and enjoyable experience. 

Another group wanted to create communal “community boxes” for urban farming to further community building, while a third group took to the water with floating platforms meant to connect city and nature, and attract marine life by creating an artificial marine habitat.

- It’s been an intense and very interesting process, says Naja Kastrup Friis, who studies Architectural Engineering at DTU. She continues:

- Working with people from all over the world wakes you up to all the different views on urban planning”.

The advantages of the course are a two-way street: the students benefit from expert knowledge and at the same time provide a fresh outlook:

- Scepticism and critical perspectives on the projects we’ve studied were always welcome – as long as we could back it up”, says Naja Kastrup Friis. 

The Urban Challenge Programme is supported by EU’s Erasmus+ Programme for Knowledge Alliances.

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