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UPDATED: July 26, 2010 NO. 30 JULY 29, 2010
Next Big Thing
Ideas, inventions and gadgets at the Expo might revolutionize people's life

SWEDISH MIND: The photo shows a corner of Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm, a model district of energy-efficient buildings and integrated urban planning built on wharfs and docks (MALENA KARLSSON)

Since their inception in 1851, World Expos have been without a doubt international cultural galas where people can have a visual tour around the world and meet new friends from afar. They can also watch performances of all kinds and sample exotic foods. And more importantly, Expos have also been the venue to exhibit the newest innovations and technologies, such as telephones, automobiles, light bulbs, airplanes and television sets. The ongoing Expo in Shanghai also exhibits some progressive ideas and inventions, giving us a glimpse into the future.

City of the Future—Symbiocity

Exhibition Venue: Sweden Pavilion

How Long: Being Realized

Few visitors to the Sweden Pavilion could ignore the colorful pipes painted on walls. According to Annika Rembe, Commissioner General of the pavilion, these colorful pipes symbolize that everything in cities is connected and people need to take a holistic approach by combining the ecological, economic and social aspects of issues together to build a sustainable city.

Symbiocity, the idea of sustainable urban development, is the trademark that reflects all the knowledge and experience of Sweden, which discovered this development path from its own failed experience. In the 1950s and 1960s, people wouldn't even dip a toe in the polluted waters around Stockholm. Swimming and fishing were forbidden. Today, bathers are everywhere, and fishing in central Stockholm is popular.

In February 2009, the European Commission declared Stockholm European Green Capital 2010, making it the first city to receive the title.

The Symbiocity approach finds and takes advantage of the links between energy, waste management, water supply, sanitation, transport, landscape planning, sustainable architecture, urban functions and cultural functions in order to optimize the results, according to information provided by the Swedish Trade Council.

For example, organic waste from restaurants, grocery stores and households can be used to produce biogas. The methane in the biogas can be used for heating, cooking, electricity production and fuel for transport vehicles. And the residue can be used as fertilizer.

Today less than 20 percent of household waste in Sweden is deposited in landfills, according to the trade council. In Stockholm, 75 percent of all waste is collected for recycling or use as fuel. For household waste, the figure is 95 percent. Since the 1970s, the dependence on oil for heating and electricity production in Sweden has gone down by 90 percent.

Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm, a model district of the integrated planning approach, has the features of automatic underground waste collection systems, district heating and cooling fueled partly by local waste collection and by heat exchangers in water treatment, solar-powered hot water and electricity.

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