District regeneration

This social innovation triggers district regeneration through hard and soft measures, such as local energy production and energy efficiency measures, urban green spaces, transport system transition measures and citizen participation.


Reference cases analysed within the scope of SMARTEES: Malmö and Stockholm (Sweden).

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö has a strong tradition of district regeneration and development. One of the leading examples is the Augustenborg district. Augustenborg was built during Sweden’s post-war prosperity in the early 1950s. By the 1980s, it had become a very different city district: numerous residents had moved out leaving unoccupied apartments, and the area suffered from unemployment and environmental problems, particularly seasonal flooding.


In response to these challenges, in 1997 several key municipal and related actors began to discuss how to transform Augustenborg into a local eco-neighbourhood. One of the main aims of the project was to enable residents to take a leading role in the planning, design and implementation of the project. Ekostaden Augustenborg developed as a process to integrate sustainable and urban development, which incorporated a wide variety of both hard and soft measures to transform the district. Key features included local energy production and energy efficiency, waste separation, open storm-water treatment, and a focus on urban green space, transport and citizen participation.


The project had an impact on many dimensions, including the local environment, energy consumption, and social and economic relations. More specifically, biodiversity in the area has increased by 50%; unemployment has been lowered to Malmö’s average, and the participation in elections increased significantly. Following the example of Augustenborg, two similar significant projects were developed in Malmö. The city has adapted a citizen-centered model for transforming challenging neighbourhoods into eco-neighbourhoods with an average for the region unemployment rate.

Stockholm, Sweden

Sustainable Järva is a regeneration project in the housing area Järva, which was built in the mid-1960s. So far, seven residential buildings were retrofitted leading to a 50% energy reduction, with the aim to decrease energy demand from 180 to 88 kWh/m2 a year as part of the project. The housing company Svenska Bostäder is planning to refurbish a total of 5,200 apartments until 2022 using the experiences from the pilot project.


Initially, the project was strongly resisted by the residents, and Svenska Bostäder’s first steps were to initiate a constructive dialogue between the housing company, the local municipality and citizens. Citizens were informed through communication campaigns and involved in decisions about the renovation. Particularly, the housing company started the Järva Dialog by inviting the inhabitants to open meetings. Around 10,000 residents participated in such meetings and gathered 30,000 inputs about the advantages and challenges of the area. Furthermore, residents were informed about how to save energy and recycle, and property managers and service personnel were trained to spread knowledge about sustainable lifestyles.


Nowadays, local residents actively participate in local decision-making processes, both inside and outside of the project. As a result, they also take part in democratic processes, which was not the case at the beginning of the project. The project demonstrates a successful turn of an initially top-down project into a project that supports participation and engagement. Now, the project is not only about energy efficiency but also about social aspects and local engagement.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763912. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the SMARTEES project. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the European Union.