As segregation and inequality are increasing in many parts of the world, inclusion in the planning process of cities and communities is becoming even more important. In the North of Sweden, the city of Umeå is working hard to create an inclusive and safe environment for all.
The gendered landscape tour of Umeå
Umeå provides a bus tour around the city to show “the gendered landscape of Umeå”. This is an innovative way of showing how working with gender equality takes form in a city by exemplifying successful changes and work in the city, as well as illuminating remaining issues. In line with Umeå’s high ambitions on sustainability and gender equality, the gendered landscape method has been developed in Umeå, and, to the best of our knowledge, it is the first of its kind in Europe.
The method of “the gendered landscape” is being used for educating and creating awareness on the importance of a cohesive understanding of gendered power structures concerning all urban planning in the city.
The tour is currently outlining 25 integrated practices in the city, and is an innovative way of demonstrating the effects of striving for gender equality. Different stakeholders are represented at the stops of the bus tour, as well as different levels of government.
The park: Freezone
One example is the park “Freezone”, a collaboration between different parts of the municipality and groups of girls in the city. The collaboration led to a better understanding of expectations that young women deal with every day and the need for public spaces where nothing is expected of you. The new knowledge resulted in a park being built in the city centre.
The station tunnel – gender issues in urban planning
A greater inflow of light, rounded corners and a large entrance in the middle are a few examples of the result of working with a gender perspective in the new station tunnel in Umeå. The tunnel connects the city centre with the neighbourhood of Haga and it is a good example of how physical planning can be developed by adding a gender perspective.
Raising awareness on issues of power
The architects have been working with space, height, daylight, rounded edges, gradual gradient, artwork and maximal transparency. Working with a gender perspective in this project, meant awareness-raising on issues of power in public spaces, men´s violence towards women and how the city is perceived as a consequence of violence, experienced fear and accessibility.
Broader and lighter
The new tunnel is broader and lighter, with an optimal inflow of light at all entrances. An additional entrance in the middle is another example of how the tunnel has been planned regarding the feeling of safety in a place that can sometimes be perceived as unsafe. Rounded corners allow for a better outlook entering the tunnel and there is nowhere for unknown persons to hide.
Umeå highlights the importance social sustainability and inclusion in urban planning, striving towards an equal society with a high quality of life for all. In 2019, Umeå initiated a declaration calling for a new European Award for Social Progress, together with 12 cities within the European Union.
Find us: Umeå, Town hall
Visiting: All year
Duration: 1,5-2 hours
Languages: Swedish & English