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Carla Cammilla Hjort is the Founder and Vision Director at SPACE 10, a research and design lab in Copenhagen on a mission to create better and more sustainable ways of living. In this interview, Carla tells about her journey to founding SPACE10 and shares insights on tackling future challenges through mindful technology adoption.

At SPACE10, you work to enable more meaningful and sustainable urban future. What are the main aspects of it you are focused on? 

SPACE10 is a research and design lab. We explore the major societal changes – the kind that is already affecting us and is likely to deeply change the lives of most in the future. From rapid urbanisation to resource scarcity, climate change to lack of affordable housing, the world we live in is not short of challenges. 

And at the same time, we have access to unprecedented opportunities to address a lot of pressing issues. Technology, for example, is a fantastic tool to empower people in completely new ways. So we ask questions, engage experts in different fields, learn, share and invite people in. We then look for ways to make things better together. We explore possible solutions, prototype, test, and hopefully end up turning good ideas into meaningful products or services.

How do you explore future urban scenarios at SPACE10?
We have SPACE10 Research, where we explore the bigger changes expected to affect people in the coming decades and where we try to identify opportunities for a better everyday life. We have SPACE10 Design, that acts upon identified opportunities to create better and more sustainable ways of living. Embracing a holistic mindset, we aim to design solutions for people and planet. And finally, we have SPACE10 Culture, which connects with people from around the world to exchange ideas, spark discussions and to empower people to drive positive change. 

The SPACE10 headquarters at Flæsketorvet in Kødbyen, the former meatpacking district of Copenhagen, is spread across three floors of an open-plan building

These are the three main pillars of SPACE10, but we’re a fairly small team, so our approach is to surround ourselves with people who are smarter than us, so we constantly collaborate with other companies, studios, and brilliant experts out there. We strongly believe that collaboration beats competition so we share all our research and ideas with the public – both on our website and through talks, exhibitions and events, but we also invite people from all over the world to SPACE10 to work with us. 

SPACE10 is equipped with workspaces, a test kitchen, an exhibition space, a mixed reality lab, a vertical farm, a fabrication laboratory and an open space for events

Can you give an example of a project run at SPACE10? How was it tested in real life and what was the result?
As an example, I would take The Growroom – a spherical garden that we made with architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum. The project started as an architecture competition aimed to explore how cities can feed themselves through food-producing architecture. 

The winning proposal ended up sparking excitement and interest from around the world – people reached out and wanted to buy or exhibit The Growroom in their home countries. But we didn’t feel it was right to promote local food production and at the same time start a centralised production and distribution of The Growroom. So, we tapped into the potential of digital fabrication, went back to the drawing board and designed an open source version, so we could send the digital design files instead of the physical product and let people build it themselves locally, using local materials. 

It took quite a lot of development stages because we wanted it to be as accessible as possible for as many as possible. As a result, all you need to assemble your own Growroom is two rubber hammers, 17 sheets of plywood and a visit to your local maker space, that can be found in almost any major city in the world, to have the pieces cut. The Growroom is designed for cities – it has a small spatial footprint and can stand freely in any context in our neighbourhoods. It offers a piece of ‘pause’-architecture in our high-paced scenery and supports our everyday sense of well-being by creating a small oasis, where we can relax, socialise and re-connect with nature.

Because the design is open source and anyone can download it for free, The Growroom was downloaded 30.000 times in the first months of the release and local versions of the Growroom have since been built as far afield as Helsinki, Moscow, Dubai, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Seoul and Sydney. Ultimately, of course, we’d like to see the Growroom built in as many cities as possible and the design is still free and publicly available for anyone.

Your professional (and personal) path is very unique. How did you start your career and then decide to focus on exploring the future of urban spaces? 
I was a DJ, music producer and event-maker when in 2006 I started a company, Art Rebels, that still exists today. We started as a fairly small in-house team, and then elevated our competence with a network of specialists from around the world, facilitating and connecting creative talent with potential collaborators. There, I specialised myself in conceptualising and trying to understand how we can use art, culture and design to create social change in different aspects. 

In one of our project, we designed a collection for IKEA which allowed me to really connect with the company’s CEO. A year later, he contacted me again – he wanted us to help him design an IKEA that is better for the future. We decided to expand IKEA’s truly inspiring vision of creating a better everyday life for the many people and explore what the company would potentially do in the future to create solutions for more sustainable and meaningful living, from housing and energy to food. That’s how we came up with the idea of SPACE10 and moved to an urban development field.

What new urban professions and skills you believe will be essential in the future?
I’m sure we’ll see a lot of new interesting job titles in the future, but one thing we can be sure of is that for many years to come, creative and technology skills will be in high demand. At the same time, there’s this irony that on one hand, we’re fostering innovation, and on the other hand, our society is not actually ready to embrace it: from education to politics, we can’t adapt to these changes fast enough.

With the accelerated development of virtual and augmented reality, IoT, AI, Robotics etc., very soon we’ll urgently need people who are well-equipped to analyse possible implications and solve newly emerging problems. Such Technology Adoption Facilitators will play an important role in helping people adjust to the world of tomorrow in a mindful and ethical way and making our cities more livable and sustainable.

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For about one year, Renée Rooijmans has sensed the elevated experience of living on a rooftop in Rotterdam. As part of Dakdorpen Collectief, she hopes to find new ways of unlocking the potential of urban rooftops for all.

If you’re ever in Rotterdam, you should visit Hofbogen. This old train line viaduct and terminus is now an alternative shopping center, offering design, art, food, drinks, music, fashion and more. On the rooftop, a public park was created, which doubles as an event venue. But, it’s also a residential rooftop: in the middle of it, there is an 8m2 trailer, originally used as a construction worker canteen, that is now Renée’s semi-permanent home. 

Trains used to run in and out of Rotterdam on top of the Hofbogen, seen here from street level after removal of the train line

“I was looking for something different, something that was not a house, not the type of house that would think of when thinking of a city house. Basically going beyond what’s available.”, Renée says. After spending some time in Canada, where she worked on a farm, she returned to the Netherlands where she wanted to find a new way to live in the city. Coincidentally, the local Rooftop Festival was about to take place on the Hofbogen around this time. For the festival, a person was needed to temporarily take care of the roof during the festival. This is how Renée Rooijmans found her current plot.

The same crane that removed all the Rooftop Festival props lifted Renée’s trailer up to the rooftop after the festival

Renée’s unique kitchen and view

Of course living on a rooftop comes with some obstacles. Renée’s camper is connected to the electricity of the building itself, but currently there is no running water. However, the rooftop itself does have several taps to get some water from. “Since I must collect water I became quite conscious of the amount of water I consume. I shower at the gym nearby. That also means I use the sauna every day, which feels good, but sometimes I want to take shower in another moment and maybe the gym is closed. Anyway, by showering in the gym and using a public laundry service I have learned to find other shared facilities that I have access to.”, says Renée.

Studio Walden’s vision of the future of urban rooftops

Today, being in close contact with the sky and nature enchants Renée and after one month living on the rooftop she was sold and started looking for a way to turn this temporary solution into a permanent residence. Renée teamed up with Walden, a local architecture studio that had already conditioned a camper to live in, and two others, forming the Dakdorpen Collectief. Together, Dakdorpen Collectief is exploring the possibility the future of rooftop living while benefiting the city as well.

Dakdorpen Collectief wants to go further with the exploration regarding unlocking rooftops and, in the name of applied research, Renée is willing to find a new plot and give up her new found home. Finding more opportunities and more rooftops to unlock is what moves them as a collectieve. This will certainly require overcoming obstacles and, but Renée Rooijmans and Dakdorpen Collectief are willing to tackle the necessary processes in order to occupy these spaces and make them public. 

Photos courtesy of Studio Walden

This article is the fourth one in a series exploring the potential of the urban rooftop landscape. During ROEF, Pop-Up City proudly presents Rooftop Futures — an event at TQ Amsterdam featuring a wide range of inspiring rooftop pioneers and initiatives. Get your tickets now and join us on June 7th.

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A dune landscape will soon emerge on the roof of two new housing blocks in Amsterdam. The buildings will not just provide a place for humans — they will also be a home to native plants and animals.

Groenmarkt is a development of two new residential blocks that are currently developed in Amsterdam, designed by landscape architects Buro Harro. The two blocks are situated on one of the city’s canals with a local ‘Jordaan style’ square with greenery between them. The ground floor square and their green facades are hints of the wonders to come, but still, from the street eye level, we won’t easily notice the spectacular ecosystem that the rooftop houses.

Groenmarkt might just be the first co-housing block for humans, animals, and plants

Buro Harro describes the building not just as a housing unit but as a place where bats, birds, bees, and butterflies live alongside humans. The facade bricks intentionally create some voids to allow birds to nest and climbing plants to find their way up. Once the highest level of the building is reached, an iconic Dutch dune landscape tops the apartments. Trees and native grass will be planted, and an open air swimming pool will complete this community space.

One of the two housing blocks with the dune landscape on the roof clearly visible

The inclusion of green elements in the city is a constant in Buro Harro’s project. While his practice continues, we wonder if the builders of urban environments will consciously create ecosystems that will integrate more fauna and flora with our cities. We are maybe preparing for a future in which cities go back to a more primitive state of nature.

Photos courtesy of Buro Harro and Groenmarkt Amsterdam

This article is the third one in a series exploring the potential of the urban rooftop landscape. During ROEF, Pop-Up City proudly presents Rooftop Futures — an event at TQ Amsterdam featuring a wide range of inspiring rooftop pioneers and initiatives. Get your tickets now and join us on June 7th.

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The Light Swing, a project by the Finnish-Swiss artist-designer duo RaivioBumann is an interactive installation consisting of a swing which illuminates public spaces during the long dark winters in Helsinki.

Placemaking projects and public art installations often pop up in the warm seasons, when the weather is nice, and citizens are more inclined to spend time outside and engage with public spaces. As a response to that, and in order to promote the use of public space even in cold and dark seasons, the Finnish-Swiss designer duo created an interactive installation in the form of a swing, that invites passers-by to take their part in bringing some extra light to the street.

In Helsinki, winters are very long and during the day, little light reaches the city. Päivi Raivio and Daniel Baumann wanted to use this climate characteristic and turn it into a positive challenge for placemaking, instead of an obstacle. The two designer-artists are involved in winterplacemaking which has recently become popular, especially in the Nordic countries. Winterplacemaking aims to break the stereotype that “bad weather causes boring public places”.

The Light Swing, set up on the public yard of the Helsinki City Museum, is a prototype, part of the bigger Winter in HEL concept developed by the duo. This initiative to enliven Helsinki’s public sphere in winter and show that it is not as bad as it may seem. The swing creates energy using dynamo with the help of a person swinging on it. The energy lights up the lamps on the top of the swing brightening up the area around it. “Light is one of the main features which “visually enhances public space during darkness, but it usually requires energy and access to a source of electricity. That’s not the case with the Light Swing, which combines active participation, self-powering, play and light,” the duo explains.

The Winter in HEL project is one amongst many examples of placemaking which encourages public participation in shared urban areas. Similarly to initiatives such as Benchmark — a public bench measuring its use and need for it within a city — the Light Swing responds to the needs of citizens and what they think is lacking in public space. In the case of this project, its functioning even depends on the participants: they need to engage with it to brighten up the winter streets of Helsinki.

Photos courtesy of Hanna Råst and Päivi Raivio

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Have you ever felt you want to escape from mundane urban quotidianity? Designer Anne Beuk’s graduation project HiHaHut provides an escape from city life in an unusual place in the middle of an intensive Dutch agricultural landscape between Leiden and Amsterdam.

Small rural houses for rent are the new bed and breakfast. They provide architects and designers with interesting spatial challenges while consumers get to experiment countryside experiences in a unique minimalist environment. But when land is scarce, what do these experiences look like?

The Netherlands is the most densely populated country of the European Union. Its cities are dense, and every hectare of the rural landscape is used for high-capacity food production. This means that a weekend escapes in the Netherlands do not happen in virgin area. An escape from the city takes you straight into farmlands.

HiHaHut consists of a network of 4 unique cots that are smartly integrated into the rural production landscape. A visit to one of these cottages involves turning on your gas and electricity, using a compost toilet, sleeping next to, or inside, a greenhouse, or waking up with the bleating of the sheep. Since tourism hasn’t been part of the local activities, tourist taxes do not apply yet in this municipality.

Visitors are encouraged to learn about the heritage of the area, known for its farm production history. Examples of the places to visit in the area include a cheese museum and cheese farm, and the famous tulip route, corresponding to the cultivation route of tulips in this area.

HiHaHut might provide a glimpse of a future in which mono-functional, rather unaccessible, large-scale agricultural production landscapes are reinvented as leisure landscapes. By adding new functions to the otherwise homogenous greenhouses and fields of crops, the food factories of the world may well become our new favorite holiday destinations.

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Last year, The Lilium Jet made its maiden flight. The makers of the small electric air taxi believe in a future where everyone can fly anywhere. Will Lilium transform urban rooftops into small communal airports?

The Lilium Jet is the world’s first electric vertical take-⁠off and landing jet. It has a range of 300 km, it fits up to five people, and it can travel up to 300 km per hour with no noise and zero emission. Lilium aims to provide travel for everyone, at the same cost as riding a car. You don’t have to purchase the jet ourself. Lillium will introduce a pay-per-ride system in 2025 that will make jets available to you on demand.

What the Lilium Jet will look like

We all remember those old renderings of the future cities with skyscrapers, no people on the streets, and a sky full of flying cars, zeppelins, planes and other objects. With Lilium, the future of the past is finally coming. Lilium is building on the future vision of Otto Lilienthal who experimented with personal gliders as early as 1894. His vision of a future in which we all are able to fly anywhere, whenever we want, might come true now.

Lilium will launch landing pads and an app based on-demand air-taxi service in 2025

Commuting between metropolises, suburbs and smaller towns could also become easier

As anyone will be able to order a flight on-demand, our urban rooftops might get a surprising new use. Lilium imagines a vast network of Lilum Pads in main areas of cities worldwide, where you can catch your flights. Instead of cramming yourself onto an over-capacity airport link train, metro or bus, you could fly to nearby destinations from a nearby rooftops. If the range extends, Lilium could turn popular short air routes like Seoul to Jeju, Sydney to Melbourne, London to Dublin and LA to San Francisco into zero emission routes.

This article is the first one in a series that explores the potential of the urban rooftop landscape. During ROEF’s rooftop festival, Pop-Up City proudly presents Rooftop Futures — an event at TQ Amsterdam featuring a wide range of inspiring rooftop pioneers and initiatives. Get your tickets now and join us on June 7th.

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Prefabricated plug-in houses designed by People’s Architecture Office are starting to breathe new life into Shenzhen’s historic neighborhoods. They safeguard old houses from demolition and encouraging human-scale urban redevelopment.

As new standards prohibiting demolition of historic neighborhoods come into effect, offbeat approaches to the revival of old town depopulated areas are in high demand. People’s Architecture Offices’ ‘house in house’ structures preserve the features of the old houses while introducing modern extensions.

As previous experiments from Beijing show, all one needs is a spanner to align prefabricated panels and turn a derelict house into a new, fully insulated, wired, and plumbed home within a day. Since most of these neighborhoods aren’t connected to sewage lines, these new installments also offer off-grid options for handling sewage and electricity. ‘Plugging in’ is an affordable solution that works for Chinese municipalities that are all legally bound to renovate uninhabitable properties with collapsed roofs, and for the residents who decide to use the plugin system within the subsidy scheme.

One of two newly installed plugin houses in Shangwei village, Shenzhen

An inside of plugin house in Dashilar, Beijing

The cost of the plugin house is thirty times less than buying a typical apartment in Beijing. It is half the cost of renovating and about a fifth the cost of building a new courtyard house in a Beijing neighborhood like Dashilar, where within the span of a year house plugin expanded from an experimental prototype to a systematic solution.

Map of Shangwei village, Shenzhen revealing its potential for plugin installations

In Shenzhen, where half of the population lives in urban villages, plug-ins present a great potential for long-term socially driven development. Considering the plugin house is waterproof and can also be used outside of an existing structure, there is a possibility to increase the density and residential mix of Shenzhen neighborhoods allowing new residents to move in.

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To some, it might not be a new concept: solo-dining ramen restaurants. Ichiran is now bringing its iconic dining alone experience to bustling Manhattan for you to escape the city and check-in with yourself and your tonkotsu ramen.

Cities can be overwhelming with sounds, smells, and visual stimulation. In reaction, apps, silent churches, and restaurants have started to pop up, aimed towards the overstimulated city dweller. Now, there will is another (edible) cure for the overwhelmed urbanites: Ichiran Ramen in Manhattan.

Diners, “please be quiet and silence your phones”, asks Ichiran

Ichiran Ramen specializes in tonkotsu ramen since it first opened in 1960 in Fukuoka as a tiny ramen stall. Since 1993, Ichiran has been expanding from a single stall to an international franchise with an iconic solo-dining concept as its blueprint. After opening many locations in Japan, and some in Hong Kong, Taipei, and New York, Ichiran opened on Times Square last month.

Your ramen is served from behind the bamboo blind that prevents you to see the server’s face for minimal distraction

Times Square is an obvious choice for Ichiran. With over a quarter of a million people crossing Times Square each day, customers are guaranteed. However, Ichiran might just be the ramen bar of choice for different demographic; those trying to avoid the teeming crowds of Times Square. At Ichiran, you order through a machine at the entrance or through an order form. You take a seat in one of the solo dining booths and wait until your ramen is served to you from the little window in front of you. To see the server, you press a call button at your booth.

Ichiran developed the solo dining booth as a way for customers “to allow to focus on the flavors of your bowl with minimal distractions” instead of focusing on the many distractions that characterize ramen restaurants. You’re encouraged to indulge in your ramen in your own way, at your own pace, without noises, without waiters, friends, and family members breathing down your neck, and without strangers staring at you.

With more and more people in cities living alone, going out for dinner alone might just be a logical result of a generation that is trying to be more ‘present’. Moving to the countryside might just be the next step after you discover the benefits of being alone at Ichiran.

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Rooftops are the last frontier in our overcrowded cities. They are overlooked and underused, but they have an amazing potential for biodiversity, food production, housing, and leisure. The Rooftop Cinema Club turns rooftops across the USA and in London into neighborhood cinemas.

In this time when land in cities is becoming a very scarce good, some pioneers are starting to look at rooftops as places with great potential for human and non-human use. Since 2011, the Rooftop Cinema Club has managed to turn nine unused rooftops into a classic urban space — a movie theater. With multiple movie screenings every week, the Rooftop Cinema Club aims to provide a unique cinema experience with spectacular views as the added bonus.

One of two LA Rooftop Cinema Club venues on the 3rd floor of the former CBS studios in Hollywood

When you watch a movie on one of the selected rooftops in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Houston or London, you’ll enjoy your movie in a comfy deck-chair through a state-of-the-art headphone and a stunning view right next to you. And this is not just a temporary pop-up cinema event that is sold-out before you know it’s there. Rooftop Cinema Club actually uses selected rooftops in five cities with a consistent program of iconic movies. This means you can rely on these rooftops in your daily urban routine as they start to integrate into the fabric of the local neighborhood.

One of three London venues, on the rooftop of the Stratford Shopping Centre

This article is the first one in a series that explores the potential of the urban rooftop landscape. During ROEF’s rooftop festival, Pop-Up City proudly presents Rooftop Futures — an event at TQ Amsterdam featuring a wide range of inspiring rooftop pioneers and initiatives.Get your tickets now and join us on June 7th.

Read more →
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Urban gardening has been an ongoing trend for decades. Farmshelf thinks beyond the trend, bringing the greenhouse under your very own roof with an automated system that enables the growth of your own greens whilst aiming to reduce your carbon footprint.

The majority of people lack time, space, or the expertise to grow their own food. Brooklyn-based startup Farmshelf came up with a solution that enables you to grow greens regardless of place or weather condition. The small-scale indoor greenhouse intends to minimize your carbon footprint by avoiding lengthy transport routes, packaging, and non-trackable origins of your produce.

Farmshelf applies hydroponics for its growing process — a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution instead of soil

The system does not require its user to have a green thumb, as it is a fully automated internet-connected device that keeps track on the growth cycle. It notifies you once your greens can be harvested.

While Farmshelf is making major headway in bringing farming to the masses, urban gardening has been around for decades. Growing your own greens has become a proliferating trend, also among restaurants and hotels. The Greenhouse in Utrecht lives ups to its name and installed a greenhouse on the first floor of its restaurant, which is easily visible from outside through the glazed facades. The QO Amsterdam hotel dedicated its mission to implement sustainability in all its processes and installed a rooftop garden from which it harvests its produce for its restaurant. Though being mainly directed to restaurants, Farmshelf envisions to facilitate the growth of produce regardless of place or time.

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