About Decode

Decode is a research project led by KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm – School of Architecture, involving a total of 27 researchers from 8 tertiary institutions and institutes, with competences within social sustainability and process management for sustainable urban development (including in relation to the themes of organizations, collaboration, participation, communication, and innovation). Sweden GBC (a non-profit organization) is a partner in the Decode project, along with seven Swedish municipalities (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Järfälla, Norrtälje, Sorsele, Täby, Upplands Väsby and Uppsala), two government authorities (the National Board of Housing, Building, and Planning; and Public Art Agency Sweden), a developer (Älvstranden Utveckling), and a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm (Tyréns).

Decode was initiated in 2014 and is funded by the government agency Vinnova and on the basis of support from its partner organizations.

Decode takes its name from the notion of “community design for conflicting desires.” The project has two focus areas: firstly, it aims to develop evidence bases, tools, and models for the inclusion of citizen’s opinions, needs, and dreams in urban development processes; secondly, it addresses issues of process management, focusing on the way in which municipalities and other parties engage in collaboration, organization, and citizen involvement.

Sweden is facing the challenge of doubling the house building volume by 2025. How we handle this challenge will have crucial consequences for urban development. Without broad reinforcements of competence a fast escalation of house building, necessary for reaching this goal, might lead to long term negative effects such as poorer house standards, greater segregation, and negative climate and environmental impacts.

It is therefore of prime importance that society join forces by developing inclusive and efficient urban development processes. There is a strong need to involve more and new actors and citizens in early planning phases. This puts high demands on competence for leading these integrated processes aiming for creating a multitude of co-created initiatives.

Decode´s unique constitution of researchers and specialists meet this challenge by developing a key part of urban development process steering, designed to be utilised:

  1. within the framework of Citylab – a national forum for sharing knowledge around sustainable development, led by Sweden GBC.
  2. freely by municipalities, developers, real estate managers, with different pre-conditions.

Decode develops supporting planning processes based on cross-sectoral collaboration between different divisions within municipalities, private sector and academia, and where citizens and local actors engage actively.

Herein lies the potential of innovation in the sense that Decode departures from local conditions in each individual project at the same time as these projects are managed by qualitative and inclusive goal-steering to ensure sustainable development and to avoid only sticking to standard solutions. A sharing culture, which gives social, economic and ecological benefits.


About Citylab

Citylab both applies and disseminates the research results generated by Decode. Decode has played an active role in developing key principles and content on both process management and social sustainability for the Citylab Action Guide. Part of Decode’s involvement in Citylab involves offering support for the internationalization of Citylab, thereby facilitating the use of Citylab’s resources in other parts of the world.

Sustainable urban development raises many exciting and complex questions; offering answers to these questions demands not only a broad competence across sectors, but also new and innovative ways of collaborating. Together with Sweden GBC, a number of Swedish firms, municipalities, government bodies, and academics have teamed up in order to develop Citylab, a forum for sharing knowledge within the field of sustainable urban development. Citylab provides support for urban development projects of all scales, in the creation of high-quality and effective processes.

Citylab Action Guide has been developed in collaboration with thousands of people working at almost 50 different partner organizations, from government bodies and municipalities to the business and academic communities. The Guide provides support in ensuring that sustainable urban development is taken into account throughout an urban development project. Urban development projects are able to gain certification through the Guide. The Citylab Action Guide is published in English (see below link).

Sweden GBC created Citylab Network in order to provide a platform through which actors could help each other, share inspiration, and stay up to date with the latest developments within the field of sustainable cities. At present the network comprises over 150 members from across Sweden. Citylab Network arranges a range of networking events and webinars, wherein knowledge is disseminated digitally.

Citylab Action Guide English version – link


Incremental Internationalization

Decode and Sweden GBC envisage that the introduction of Citylab in a country outside of Sweden would proceed via close collaboration between Sweden GBC and the GBC of that country, or another appropriate organization. Ideally, such collaborations would lead to knowledge exchange between different GBCs, countries, cities, urban development projects, private and public actors, and academic contexts. Introducing Citylab in countries outside of Sweden, in collaboration with Sweden GBC, represents an opportunity that may be both profitable to other GBCs and of great utility to their members. The collaboration can take different forms in different countries.

Citylab will engage in internationalization efforts incrementally. The first phase of the internationalization process is to occur within the Decode project during 2018, wherein Sweden GBC work with two countries as test cases: Lithuania and China. In anticipation of broader internationalization efforts, part of Sweden GBC’s concept development work lies in making contact with GBCs in selected countries with a view to stimulating interest in Citylab. In the next phase (2019-2020) a strategy for the global launch of Citylab will be developed. From 2021, Citylab should be offered in all parts of the world; the increased collaboration between GBCs that can be expected to occur as a result of this coverage will be of great benefit to those GBCs involved in the collaboration.



Meetings and workshops will be arranged for June 5-9, 2018, in Nanjing, China, wherin participants from architecture schools, construction companies, real estate companies, government bodies, China GBC, and others will be invited to take part. Presentations will be made by both Swedish and Chinese parties and workshops will take place for participants to get to know each other and establish an understanding of each other’s needs. Study trips will be conducted to examine a number of current and planned projects and Nanjing City. A subsequent series of workshops will be undertaken in the Fall, wherein a modified Citylab approach will be tested.

Click here to see the agenda from the workshop. 



Similar to the Chinese case study, Sweden GBC will conduct meetings and workshops in Lithuania, in order to collaboratively explore the ways in which Citylab can best be adapted and disseminated in Lithuania, through the Lithuanian GBC.

The objectives for these meetings are: