Preparing to Run the Gauntlet – The Globe Forum 48 Hour Circle Resort Challenge Begins!!

Today it all begins in earnest. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the key figures behind the Circle Resort challenge over dinner last night to discuss quite what they had gotten themselves into…..

The scope and ambition of the project, as introduced by Kristian Wendelboe of Wendelboe West Properties, the developers behind the project, is both breathtaking and unique. A giant, spectacular waterpark, hotel and conference centre together with 1200 houses to be built in a way that is conscious of the environment, built sustainably with each house acting as a showcase for a multiple of dazzling cutting edge eco-technologies from Solar heating systems, small-scale wind turbines and ecological wastewater treatment to name but a few. An eco-themepark and a clean-tech innovation park all in one. All while being a destination that families want to go for an enjoyable holiday., that is respectful of and integrated into the local community. That is quite a challenge.

Perhaps even more impressive than the concept is the fact that this is happening in the small community of Oscarshamn, home to around 26,000 people. Perhaps not so surprising though, when you consider that Oscarshamn is a site of enviable natural beauty, home to a stunning archipelago and it is a mecca for Swedish Trout Fishers.  It is great to see planners at the local level working so closely with developers to create and execute a vision together.

During the day, there are a number of issues and considerations that will prove challenging to resolve that will likely determine the success or otherwise of the project.

  1. The problem definition and having a clear goal throughout the process will be just as crucial as finding the technologies that can act as solutions.
  2. There is a balancing act to be achieved between on the one hand creating a holistic and genuinely sustainable holiday resort on the one hand and a technology demonstration park on the other, these are somewhat different target audiences and it is very important to think about issues of technology and lifestyle integration and how certain technologies can complement each other
  3. Getting the design stage right and as close to perfect as possible at the outset. As Per Löfberg of Cradle to Cradle, the Project leader pointed out; A onefold investment at the design stage can lead to a hundredfold benefit (in terms of cost saving) by the time the project moves to construction and beyond. The more money you invest at the beginning, the more you save in the end.
  4. There are also the complexities involved in choosing the right technologies and technology providers. As Kristian from WWP said ‘I knew nothing about the environmental side and am learning more and more every day, this allows me to ask all the ‘stupid’ but necessary questions.” The problem of course is that every ecotech provider thinks they have the best solution and will promise the world. Arie Ben David, CEO & President of EcoWhale summed this up beautifully when he related a story where the developer and project starts of with all the money but no knowledge and at the end, the project team and developers have all the knowledge but now the tech companies have all the money!!
  5. What is most important to the team in the challenge ‘cage’? Finding solutions to each of the seven challenges or, creating an innovative collaborative process that will lead the way to finding the solutions. Only time will tell but it is important that the value of the process is not neglected due to the focus on specific glitzy technologies.
  6. Finally, it is always a challenge to reconcile a beautiful vision with the down to earth reality of Swedish building and environmental legislation, planning restrictions and stakeholder engagement processes. The flexibility and possibility of this project makes it exciting but also quite an epic challenge from a planning perspective although Bodil, Josef and the rest of the team at Oskarshamn are prepared to be creative in finding planning and social development solutions

There you have it, this is going to be an immense 48 hours and I am very excited to be part of it. Let’s do this. Please follow real time developments on twitter; @GlobeForum, hashtag: #GBChallenge48

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