Thought for the week
As the public sector and the private sector collaborate to respond to the need for quick and reliable testing in the face of the Covid pandemic, it is interesting to see armies of young people, relatively invulnerable to the most severe effects of the virus, working in a coordinated and orderly fashion to provide the testing facilities that we depend upon in order to maintain some degree of normalcy in society.
After a modestly challenging search for the location of the test centre, which moves frequently from parking lot to parking lot across the city, my most recent testing experience was a smooth and light-hearted experience. Smiling, even if visibly under-stimulated, youngsters wore a uniform of surgical masks, yellow jackets, ubiquitous flairs and Fila trainers. I was guided from station to station as my nose was repeatedly violated in pursuit of the vital negative result, which acts as a passport to so many activities in today’s mid-pandemic world. The whole process took less than five minutes and was utterly frictionless, in large part due to the unfussy demeanour of the workforce, unburdened as they were by the fear of the possibly serious consequences of their own infection.
There have been many positives from this otherwise catastrophic situation, and seeing societies youngest generation of adults working so visibly and effectively to enable our response is certainly one of them.
Oatly, the Swedish oat milk brand, is both the brand leader in the growing alt-dairy market, but is also our personal favourite milk alternative here at Fjellfolk. The decision to establish a significant production capacity in the UK, as reported in the Guardian, is both a positive indication of the growing demand for milk alternatives, and an interesting illustration of the changing dynamics of trade in a post-Brexit Europe. We are by no means pro-Brexit here at Fjellfolk, but there is no denying that repatriating production and industry is both good for local economics and good for sustainable food production.
Cities Building Bridges
Copenhagen is geographically relatively isolated, with a chain of islands to the west, and the relatively sparsely populated and expansive south of Sweden to the east. Building connections to the closest economically significant cities in the neighborhood is therefore somewhat challenging. Hence the hard-won tunnel project, which will significantly shrink travel times between Copenhagen and Hamburg to the south-west. This week it was annouced that ground investigation work for the 18km long tunnel, an immersed tube running along the sea floor, has been completed. This is a key milestone for the €7.1bn project, which is due to be completed by 2029. With rail travel growing in popularity due to the climate crisis and the COVID pandemic, any improvement to travel times is welcome and worthy of investment.
Urbanism & COVID
Dining out, cafe culture, and nightlife are important pull factors for city living. The bars, cafes, and eateries left reeling from necessary but costly COVID responses across the globe are now looking for more resilient and safe ways to host their socially deprived customers. Al fresco dining, already a success during the summer reprieve between waves of the pandemic, is a strategy growing in popularity. In the UK, not a country well known for it’s outdoor dining culture, the idea is catching on, as reported in this article in the Guardian.
Innovating within a city’s existing mobility culture
From LA’s car culture to Amsterdam’s renowned cycle culture, the under-served mobility “value-pockets” in the gaps between existing mobility solutions represent the best lens through which to envision future mobility innovations in cities the world over. This is according to ReD Associates’ Ian Dull and Gehl Architects’ Jeff Risom, who have written a piece challenging the approach of mobility innovators in recent years.
Recognising that the success of mobility innovators has been exposed as relatively fragile in the midst of the COVID pandemic, and that mobility is about more than getting from A to B – it is also about the experience: the sights, sounds and interactions which stimulate the billions of city dwellers globally – Dull and Risom summarise an alternative approach for future innovators in this growing sector.
The real opportunity for mobility disrupters – and mobility services generally – is to prove how indispensable they can be for improving those social, cultural, and physical contracts in each city.
Fancy a Dip?
Three photos to wrap up this week, from the jetty at Hellerup in the north of Copenhagen. With temperatures back around freezing after a brief reprieve in March, winter bathing is a pursuit which we are lucky to be able to enjoy well into spring.
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