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How can we make the most of the close proximity between the city and the countryside to create a sustainable residential area where different types of housing, diverse communities and the closeness of nature help to retain current residents and attract new ones? These are some of the central goals of the new urban development project Naturbydelen in Ringkøbing (the Nature District in Ringkøbing), which Realdania By & Byg launched in 2011 in partnership with Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality.
Like many other parts of Denmark which lie outside the traditional growth centres, Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality is facing challenges posed by demographic developments, including an aging population. More and more people are moving to the city, while at the same time lifestyles and housing needs are changing.
The development of Naturbydelen in Ringkøbing aims to demonstrate how the town of Ringkøbing can make the most of its close proximity to the fjord, the countryside and the town to develop a diverse and sustainable residential area where different types and models of housing, built to a high standard on a built-up, low-rise model supplement traditional neighbourhoods of detached houses.
Naturbydelen comprises an area of 84 hectares on which, over the next 30 years, as many as 1,000 homes will be built.
The development of Naturbydelen will provide a range of tailored solutions for sustainable urban development:
The ruling principle in the development is that – in a unique step – nature will be given first priority, while the housing will come second. Prior to construction of the first homes, the entire area was converted into one large, recreational nature area with meadowland, forests, lakes, berry gardens, orchards and systems of paths connecting the new urban area with the rest of Ringkøbing. To make the area more attractive, a number of features have also been established such as a natural playground and a rope ferry, and the plan is to build a nature centre including an observation platform.
As part of the development of this nature area, watercourses and lakes have been created and these also serve to divert rainwater away from the new urban area. Climate-proofing has been at the heart of the new development from the very start.
More than half of the In the Middle of Nature project is built-up area. The new residential development takes the form of built-up, low-rise construction, and will incorporate a new type of communal housing for the elderly built by Realdania in collaboration with Realdania By & Byg as the contractor. All of the buildings will be built without private gardens, but with the natural surroundings serving as a kind of large communal garden to foster strong social bonds between residents and a welcoming community spanning different generations. Construction of the first homes commenced in spring 2017. Three different housing projects are currently under development, all of which support the vision of creating a diverse urban area with homes for all: 40 owner-occupied flats, 85 rental properties and 14 rentals as part of the communal housing for the elderly.
The homes will be built by private contractors who purchase the building plots from the partner company, which is jointly owned by Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality and Realdania By & Byg. This model will ensure that the partners remain focused on their shared vision throughout the development project and that all investors and contractors share the same high standards of construction and sustainability. A key consideration is to ensure variety in the type and style of construction to give the development diversity and vitality.
In the Middle of Nature - Ringkøbing K is being developed in partnership between Realdania By & Byg and Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality. In addition to Naturbydelen, Realdania By & Byg is engaged in urban development projects in Køge Kyst, Kanalbyen in Fredericia and Nærheden in Høje-Taastrup in partnership with the local municipal authorities in those areas.
All four projects entail tailored solutions which support Realdania’s philanthropic goal of helping develop more sustainable towns and cities where people want to live, work and enjoy life. Naturbydelen is a place where nature and housing intermingle, creating an expansive communal garden which fosters new communities across generations, fun, rest and recreation. Local drainage of rainwater to watercourses and lakes provides a solution to the future challenges posed by climate change and flash flooding. Parallel to this, the new homes will be energy-efficient and employ sustainable building materials.
By committing long-term investment over three decades, Realdania By & Byg – by virtue of its knowledge and experience in the field of sustainable urban development – is helping keep long-term priorities in focus and guarantee high-quality solutions.