Östra Hamnen (Docklands)

A lot of buildings and land were going unused in Östra Hamnen… and urban nature abhors a vacuum just as much as the other natures do.

After Malmö‘s industrial base collapsed in the late C20th, Västra Hamnen was first in the queue for redevelopment. The other, eastern side of Malmö’s docklands ended up playing host to those industries that clung on: ferries and container shipping, recycling (think: big scrapyards), and oil storage. But even these started to dwindle as the C21st progressed, and Malmö Stad turned its mind to pulling the same trick a second time.

The economic and political chaos of the 2020s put a damper on those plans, even if they were never completely abandoned. The cost of redeveloping the are in such a way as to be insurable against predicted sea-level rise turned out to be too great for investors accustomed to the cheap money of the early decades of the century; add the cost of remediating land which had seen decades of heavy pollutant exposure, and the resulting picture was not something you’d want to put on the front of your investment portfolio.

In other words, a lot of buildings and land were going unused… and urban nature abhors a vacuum just as much as the other natures do. Redevelopment has slowly started up again, but now it’s having to deal with the eviction of various strange and stubborn little communities—many of which are not strictly legal or legitimate, but are no easier to move on for that.

The oldest and strangest of these is Famnen, an intentional community that managed to cut a deal with the city during the difficult 2020s: that deal went something like “you clean up our crap and put more energy into the grid than you take out, and we’ll let you stay”. Leaked recordings strongly suggest that the offer was made in the expectation that the community would fail, but it’s actually proven remarkably resilient and successful—even though, rather like Christiania in Copenhagen, it is also home to a lot of activity that the city would rather not be seen to encourage…

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