Let´s talk urbanisation

Trilib or the city we´d love to live in

This story is about the future and how we want to live together in our cities. Because from a statistiscal point of view cities are certain to be our future, at least for the majority of us. It‘s about a waste sorting bank called Trilib and about Paris. And since Paris and the future are traditionally mentioned in the same breath – just think of the world exhibition in 1889, including the construction of the Eiffel Tower – we‘ll start the story with a quote from one of the most famous poets of this metropolis. Victor Hugo wrote in his Maxims of the Art of Living: „The future has many names. To the weak it is the unattainable, to the fearful the unknown, to the courageous it is opportunity.“



No doubt, our time is a time of transformation

Covid and the global climate are accelerators of a change that, if we regard ourselves as courageous actors, we may see as an opportunity. The megatrend of global transformation is urbanization. By 2050, two-thirds of all people will live in urban areas that hardly can be described in terms of the classic European city. Megacities are already emerging today, posing a major challenge to our social and organizational capabilities. Two figures illustrate the dimensions we have to deal with in the course of urbanization: 75% of all waste is produced in cities, which will grow by 25% until 2050. The mountains of waste will grow at the same rate. At this point at the latest, SULO comes into play with its claim to transform today’s waste into tomorrow’s resources. At this point we could also talk about Trilib, because this trend-setting sorting bank is currently inspiring the urban waste disposal in Paris and taking it to a new level.



Our vision of the city we´d love to live in

But first, let’s stay with the city and the vision of how we would like to live together. In the sense of Victor Hugo, the spectrum of what is possible spans between the poles of “unattainable” and “full of opportunities.” From a humanist perspective, there is no doubt that the future should always be designed to be attainable for the weak and disadvantaged. In concrete terms, this means connectivity, integration, participation, both in space and socially. This is already an essential demand of urban planners, architects, sociologists and politicians who are thinking here and now about the city of the future. In addition, there is agreement that the ideal city should be greener and more sustainable, cleaner and more people-friendly. Growth has to be better organized, and traffic and waste flows have to be steered into more sustainable paths, not least with the help of digitalisation and the technological features of the much-cited smart city.

The reconquest of the city by people

The fact that the demand for “human scale” enjoys such a popularity in modern cityplanning becomes understandable against the background that large parts of our cities have degenerated into inhospitable transit and consumption zones in the course of modernism since the middle of the 20th century. The primacy of automobility led to the displacement of the walkable spaces of experience and encounter that originally constitute a human city. What the Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl called the “birdshit” architecture of functionalism still characterizes the fragmentation of space in many places today. Buildings designed on the drawing board, seemingly thrown together at random, offer neither grown references nor orientation. However, at the height of the modernist transformation, which until then had hardly been questioned, the turnaround was heralded. In “Storia della Cittá”, the Italian author Leonardo Benevolo describes the city as a living being that not only grows, but also protects its inhabitants and is itself in need of protection. Also published in the 1970s is Jan Gehl’s “Life between Houses”, in which he develops a new vision of urban planning based on the observations and findings he made during a stay in Siena and a visit of the Plazza del Campo. Jan Gehl’s team is still successful in taking the philosophy of human scale from Copenhagen to the metropolises of the world and implementing it.



The principles of the livable city

From today’s perspective, one would think that the principles of a livable city are self-evident. However, it requires continuous consideration to be able to claim and implement what seems to be self-evident. “The vision of the vibrant, safe, sustainable and healthy city has become the universally aspired goal. Its four principles – livability, safety, sustainability and health – can already be realized to the greatest possible extent if urban planning projects give top priority to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists and, in general, to the quality of urban life. The trendsetting pioneers of a new era of urban planning succeed in getting to the heart of their vision with concise terminology.



The 8/80 and the 15-minute-city

With 8/80, the planners around Gehlen describe a city that is equally safe and livable for eight- and 80-year-olds. As soon as the youngest and oldest members of our society can move around in it safely, the same applies to the rest of the citizens. “In concrete terms, this means, among other things, sidewalks that do not end at the intersection, but are drawn through it, creating a threshold for cars: So people walking do not have to leave the sidewalk, even if they are crossing a street. Obviously already small measures are able to create more people-friendly conditions in the existing structure. For the fact is that the starting point for changes must be the existing urban structure. Completely new urban developments on greenfield sites, as in Asia or Arabia, are unlikely to be the norm in the Western world in the future. The 15-minute city approach is also based on the creative restructuring and revitalization of existing buildings. Its most prominent representative is Carlos Moreno, professor of complex systems and smart cities at the Sorbonne University in Paris. The idea behind it is that neighborhoods or “superblocks” are densified through heterogeneous development and use in such a way that all the services that meet our needs are within a 15-minute walk. This means green spaces, shopping and work opportunities, medical care, sports, recreational and cultural facilities are concentrated in local areas, so that there is no need to travel long distances. Less transportation, less space for cars, more time and a better life-work balance sound quite enticing and can be used as a benchmark of a livable and lovable city, or in the words of Carlos Moreno, “We’ve turned the city into something scattered, lifeless, we need to love the place again.”

The courageous have it in their hands to take the chance

The challenges of the future are clearly on the horizon. Today we have the opportunity to decide in which direction we want to evolve. When the vision is clear, creative solutions can follow. The city of Paris has chosen to promote sustainability, cleanliness and safety. A very important part of this journey is managing waste. Only when people develop an awareness that garbage is a valuable resource that should be collected and sorted instead of polluting the environment, it is possible to create a city that all citizens will actually love to live in.



Trilib, the new freedom of sorting – a post and prelude.

We are proud to have been able to work with the City of Paris to develop a novel and exceptional sorting bank that perfectly integrates into the cityscape, that is a place people enjoy coming to, and provides inspiration for citizens to collect and sort waste. Trilib is a project that proves what is possible when everyone involved pulls together and follows a vision. The name Trilib is reserved exclusively for Paris. In other places, we speak of Optri. We talked about the development of the Trilib with product designer Marc Aurel and SULO Group President Michel Kempinski. They and the whole team that has been involved in the development deserve the thanks of the people who want the livable, lovable, clean and safe city of the future. As part of “Let’s Talk Urbanisation”, we would like to provide a platform to talk about the city of the future with designers, urban planners, architects, sociologists and other people on a regular basis.


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