NEB ambition

The ultimate ambition of the New European Bauhaus is to achieve transformation. To do this, the NEB Compass has identified specific levels of ambition that outline the desired outcomes for each of the NEB values.

Action areas

These areas refer to the five key domains of intervention that CrAFt's New European Bauhaus Impact Model considers essential for guiding and evaluating complex urban initiatives.

Participation level

The participation level refers to the degree or extent to which individuals or groups are actively involved or engaged in a particular activity, project, or process. It assesses the depth of their involvement, contributions, and commitment, ranging from minimal or passive participation to active and dedicated participation.

NEB values

The New European Bauhaus (NEB) aims to promote the values of sustainability, aesthetics, and inclusion in the design and transformation of urban spaces. It emphasises the integration of environmental, social, and economic considerations to create harmonious and innovative living environments.

Implementation Stage

According to the Smart City Guidance Package, there are seven stages to plan and implement smart city projects. These stages propose a logical and coherent roadmap for city initiatives involving many stakeholders.

Ålesund, a hollistic approach to urban development

Peter Hareide, CEO of Sørsida Utvikling AS, envisions a transformed Ålesund where sustainability is integral to urban planning. He aims to attract a thousand new residents to the city centre, boost commercial activity, and create a vibrant urban atmosphere.


  • Integrate sustainability: Peter Hareide emphasises the importance of integrating economic, social, and environmental sustainability into urban planning. This holistic approach ensures that development projects like Sørsida not only enhance the city's economic prospects but also improve the quality of life and mitigate environmental impacts.
  • Community and cultural development: The Sørsida project includes the Cultural Harbour initiative to create a cohesive cultural cluster within Ålesund. By integrating existing cultural entities and relocating facilities like the culture school to more accessible locations, the project aims to strengthen community ties and enhance cultural vibrancy.
  • Challenges in urban development: Ålesund faces challenges in urban development, particularly regarding the conflict between expanding residential areas and maintaining its status as Norway's largest cruise harbour. Balancing economic benefits from tourism with creating a livable urban environment poses significant challenges that require careful planning and decision-making.

A vision for sustainability

Peter Hareide is a civil engineer who started his career in Oslo, where he worked as a consultant on city development projects. This early experience fostered his passion for integrating sustainability into urban planning, driving him to specialise in the critical early stages of project planning. As part of his professional approach, he emphasises the importance of finding a balance between economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Nowadays, Peter resides just outside the Norwegian city of Ålesund with his wife and three children, where he combines his professional and personal interests seamlessly. Like many other Norwegians, Peter enjoys hiking and exploring Norway’s natural beauty with his family. His interests in history and politics have also influenced his holistic approach to sustainable urban development, where he aims to create a lasting, positive impact on cities.

In 2023, following the retirement of his predecessor, Peter assumed the role of CEO of Sørsida Utvickling AS, the public company in charge of the urban development of the Southern waterfront in the city of Ålesund.

With around 58,000 inhabitants, Ålesund is the 13th most populous municipality in the Scandinavian country. The town has the most important fishing harbour in Norway and a fishing fleet that is among the most modern ones in Europe. As the region’s cultural centre and with proximity to the fjords, Ålesund is also a tourist attraction, to which tourists arrive by large cruise boats.

A more livable city

The Sørsida project, an ambitious urban development initiative, began its formal journey when the municipality approved the current zoning plan in 2015. However, discussions and preliminary plans for the project have been ongoing for about 25 years, reflecting its long-standing significance and complexity.

The municipality established Sørsida Utvickling in 2019 to oversee the project, operating as a fully-owned municipal company with a mandate to facilitate sustainable urban development. Sørsida aims to revitalise the southern part of Ålesund, focusing on balancing economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

The primary objective of the Sørsida project is to transform Ålesund into a more livable and vibrant city. The project aims to address the limitations of Ålesund’s small city centre, which is constrained by its peninsular geography, and to counteract the trend of residents moving out of the city due to a housing shortage.

The project seeks to attract more people to live and work in the city centre by reclaiming land to the sea and developing new residential and commercial spaces. This will increase the population density in these areas and foster a more dynamic urban environment. The goal is to create a city that thrives with activity, offering ample housing, cultural amenities, and improved infrastructure to support a growing business community.

The project is in its early stages, with infrastructure developments underway that will eventually support the construction of new buildings. The unique aspect of Sørsida is its emphasis on creating vibrant public spaces, such as squares and parks, to enhance the overall livability of the area.

Economically, the project faces the challenge of developing land that involves substantial construction over the sea. Sørsida Utvickling’s role is to prepare and sell this land to investors, using the proceeds to fund public amenities.

Socially, the project prioritises inclusivity and community engagement, aiming to transform Ålesund’s urban landscape into a more cohesive and welcoming environment. The Cultural Harbour is a cornerstone of this initiative, designed to attract residents and visitors while integrating it with less affluent areas of the city.

Developing a cultural cluster

A vital aspect of the Cultural Harbour is its integration with already established cultural entities. For instance, Ålesund’s theatre, currently housed in a beautiful but small Art Nouveau building, has long struggled with insufficient space for modern productions. As part of the Cultural Harbour, the theatre will benefit from expanded facilities, enabling it to host larger and more contemporary performances.

Additionally, the project will include a cultural school that teaches music and performing arts to children. Currently located in a deteriorating building several kilometres outside the city centre, the culture school will be relocated to the Cultural Harbour, providing a modern and accessible environment to nurture young talent.

One of the main motivations behind the Cultural Harbour is to create a cohesive cultural cluster. At present, Ålesund’s cultural scene is fragmented, with various institutions and activities scattered throughout the city and beyond. By clustering these entities within the Cultural Harbour, the project aims to create a unified cultural district that fosters collaboration and synergy among different artistic and creative institutions, civil society organisations and companies.

The project involves extensive collaboration with independent cultural operators and institutions to ensure the Cultural Harbour meets the needs and aspirations of the local cultural community. This participatory approach includes workshops and consultations to gather input and ideas from various stakeholders.

A difficult decision to make

Ålesund faces a major conflict in its urban development plans, primarily due to its status as Norway’s largest cruise harbour. The existing cruise harbour, located in the city’s South, directly impacts the city’s plans for residential and commercial expansion. The main issue is the conflict of interest between developing housing and maintaining the bustling cruise ship operations.

The city aims to create a more vibrant urban area with housing, the above-mentioned cultural hub, and office spaces. However, the proximity of the cruise ships to the proposed residential areas poses significant challenges. The presence of large cruise ships brings issues related to noise, view obstruction, and overall environmental impact, which are not compatible with the quality of life desired for the new housing developments.

Despite the economic benefits of the cruise industry, including a significant influx of tourists, the sheer volume of visitors has grown dramatically, from less than 100,000 passengers in 2011 to 650,000 in recent years. This surge in tourism has heightened the tension between developing a livable urban environment and accommodating the booming cruise industry.

The municipality, which owns the development company and the harbour, faces a crucial decision. It must balance the cruise industry’s economic benefits with the long-term goal of creating a more livable city. The cultural harbour, which does not require permanent residents, can proceed despite the ongoing cruise operations, but the residential projects are on hold pending a resolution of the cruise ship issue.

Ultimately, the main problem is reconciling the cruise ships’ significant economic contributions with the city’s vision of a more cohesive and attractive urban living space.

Bridge past and future

Peter envisions a transformed Ålesund where the city centre thrives with new life and activity. He hopes that by attracting more residents to live in the heart of the city, there will be a significant boost to commercial activities, creating a vibrant urban atmosphere. He aims to see around a thousand new residents in the city centre, which he believes will revitalise local shops and businesses.

Peter also aims for Ålesund to lead in innovative architecture and sustainable practices. He envisions the city as a model of modern urban development, excelling in architectural design, climate responsibility, and social cohesion. Proud of Ålesund’s existing architectural heritage, Peter aspires for this new project to enhance that legacy, making the city a beacon of progressive urban living and something the community can take pride in.

More information

Sørsida Utvikling AS website
Cultural Harbour website

Written by Jose Rodriguez
Images from Sørsida Utvickling AS photo archive
Illustrations by Chiara Sala