SymbioCity unlocks synergies between urban systems to save resources while driving growth.

Western Harbour, Malmö

From industrial area to city of tomorrow

A once decaying industrial area has transformed into an exciting, sustainable urban environment with a bright future. Sustainability inspired the architects behind this eco-city within a city. The Western Harbour now has its own energy supply and waste treatment system, very few cars – and plenty of satisfied residents.

Clean soil is the start of the eco-city

After decades of industrial and port activity, the soil at Western Harbour was so contaminated by oil residues that a clean-up was necessary before the area could be start its urban renewal.

Wastewater management

This new city district now collects household wastewater through a central system similar to that used in conventional housing and transports it to the Sjölunda wastewater treatment plant.

Household waste managements

Households sort their food waste in two ways: some have built-in disposers and others use a mobile vacuum system. Trucks collect the food waste from a central tank and deliver it to SYSAV, a municipal waste treatment company in Malmö. Here, the organic fractions are digested for biogas production and the rest is incinerated for heat and electricity production.

Surface water solutions

Western Harbour actively manages its surface water via an above-land network of open canals and dams. The system slows down rainwater flow and its lush vegetation and vortex technology ensure favourable oxygen content and reduced algae growth. Green roofs on a significant number of the buildings add to the eco-friendly atmosphere.

Energy systems and eco-efficient buildings

The district is self-supporting in energy. A system powered by renewable energy produces 6,200 MWh of heating, 3,000 MWh of cooling and 6,300 MWh of electricity for residents each year. The system is connected to the city district’s heating grid and power supply network.

Core of the energy system

The Aktern heat pump plant is the heart of the energy network and produces energy for heating and cooling. The energy is then stored seasonally in natural aquifers in wells 90 metres deep. A local 2 MW wind power plant provides the electricity needed to power the heat pumps and also supplies 1,000 apartments with electricity.

Solar cells on the roof

Nearby rooftops and walls are fitted with 1,400 m2 of solar collectors, which meet 15 % of the Western Harbour’s heating requirements. The system also includes 120 m2 of solar panels.


Planned as a standalone community with close access to goods and services, the Western Harbour has virtually no cars. Most residents park their vehicles outside the area and then walk to their homes. Bicycles and pedestrians have priority, and the area can be easily reached from the rest of Malmö on biogas buses operated by the local public transport company.