Malmö Augustenborg

Posted on March, 01 2012

Green roofs and innovative water system in Augustenborg 

Green roofs and innovative water system in Augustenborg

In 2010, Malmö received the UN's prestigious World Habitat Award for its “Ecodistrict Augustenborg”, a pioneering project including water management, green roofs, and social transformation. The city district has now become a centre for green roofs and home of the Scandinavian Green Roof Association. Here is also the world's first botanical roof garden, with a living exhibition of green roofs.

Malmö was awarded the title Earth Hour Capital in Earth Hour City Challenge in Sweden 2011

Keywords: green roofs, surface water system, botanical roof garden, social transformation, renovation

Augustenborg is a city district with more than 3,000 residents. It was popular when built in the 1950s, but declined in connection with the city's de-industrialisation crisis. In the 1980s, it became an area marked by unemployment and social problems. The situation was not helped by recurring flooding due to inadequate drainage system and spawning health and environmental problems.

In 1998, Malmö municipality began a comprehensive renovation in cooperation with the municipal housing agency MKB. Rechristened Ecodistrict Augustenborg, the district relied on active participation from residents to transform severe socio-economic problems in the direction of an ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable housing area.

Residents get leading role
The 1600 MKB apartments were renovated and their energy efficiency improved by 35%. A cutting-edge system for waste management was built up with 13 stations where 65% of all waste is received. Augustenborg was an early adopter at separating food wastes, which are composted and used in the production of biogas for the city's district heating. Other renewable energy sources that contribute to the energy provision are heat pumps, wind generation, and solar panels for electricity and water heating.

From the start residents were given a leading role in the project. They were engaged via surveys, workshops, and festivals. They contributed to the design of the waste separation system, green spaces, and Malmö's first car pool, and to choosing the renewable energy sources. One-fifth of the residents participated actively, and 40 people who were educated in sustainable development later got jobs.

Open surface water system
The most noted part of the project is the solution against flooding, using more than 10,000 sq m of green roofs and an innovative open surface water system (see also Auckland). The latter consists of visible grooves, dikes, wetland, channels and dams, which are integrated with the outdoor environment in the gardens, thereby also functioning as recreation areas for residents. The measures have led to a 50% increase of green space, with an accompanying increase of biodiversity and a 60% reduction of energy use for water-treatment. Additionally, the measures have spread locally in Malmö, e.g. at Bo01.

Ecodistrict Augustenborg has received a very large number of Swedish and international study visits (ca 15,000), along with several prizes, including the UN's World Habitat Award 2010, which only two projects worldwide receive annually. Three new companies in the cleantech field have started up. The previously high unemployment in the area has decreased by 15%. The area has again become attractive, with relocation decreasing by 20%.

Centre for green roofs
Maybe the most noteworthy effect of the ecodistrict is that Augustenborg has become an international centre for green roofs. In 2001, the world's first botanical roof garden with a 9,500 sq m living exhibition of different types of green roofs, including one for threatened plant and animal species. Connected to this is the Scandinavian Green Roof Association, a non-profit association that spreads information, educates builders, coordinates research, and provides university courses on green roofs.

Green roofs have a number of positive effects on the urban environment. They absorb rainfall and reduce the load on water-treatment systems, they provide a better micro-climate, they increase the longevity of roof material, they contribute to biodiversity, they dampen noise, they save energy on both cooling and heating, they reduce overheating in cities (see also Chicago), and they can be used for recreation.

There are many variations of green roofs. Extensive green roofs are lightweight, with a thin soil layer and mainly drought resistant species, and require minimal care. At the other end are intensive roof gardens and even parks. The Scandinavian Green Roof Association has organised a large amount of information on green roofs at its institute in Augustenborg and at its website, where one can learn in detail how to implement a green roof.

Green Roof – Augustenborgs Botanical Roof Garden,

City of Malmö, “Ekostaden Augustenborg”,

Naturvårdsverket, “Innovativt dagvattensystem i Malmö”, januari 2010,

World Habitat Awards, “Ekostaden Augustenborg”, UN-Habitat, 2010,

“Augustenborg, Malmö: Sustainable makeover of an urban district”, SymbioCity,

“Augustenborg: Green roofs and storm water channels”, Sustainable Cities, 2010,

City of Malmö,

Text by: Martin Jacobson

Malmö Bo01
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