In this article, I take an in-depth look at RealDania - a non-profit organisation in Denmark who's mission is to create quality of life for all through the built environment.
There's a few interesting points to unpack from that fascinating mission statement.
Firstly, given that Denmark frequently tops Quality-of-Life rankings (for example top of the 2020 Quality of Life Index by Numbeo, 2nd in the World Happiness Report 2019), it's clear that this organisation is doing its job pretty well.
Secondly, it shows that Denmark truly respects the connection between the built environment and quality of life of citizens, and is prepared to invest heavily in both of these areas.
Goals of RealDania
RealDania takes an independent, long-term look at societal challenges that might present themselves in Denmark in the decades to come.
It is in a position to collaborate with and influence government, municipalities, foundations, associations, private businesses and local, voluntary enthusiasts.
It is supported by 165,000 members (nearly 3% of the total population of Denmark). This struck me as a staggering level of support for a philanthropic, charitable organisation focussing of built environment challenges.
But it shows how educated the general population of Denmark are on the link between our Built Environment and Quality of Life.
The strategic goals for the organisation are:
We are here for current and future generation
We promote sustainable development
We promote new knowledge and innovation
Put simply, RealDania are the change-makers of the Danish built environment sector. Constantly rattling the cage of the status quo in the best interests of the citizens. They call this Catalytic Philanthropy.
RealDania's Catalytic Philanthropy model (source)
How is RealDania making an impact?
I urge you to follow the links to check out the whole catalogue of case studies they have been involved with, but in this section I will outline some that stuck out to me.
7 Projects exploring Cities and rising sea levels
Denmark has one of the longest coastline-to-area ratios of any country in the world, therefore an adequate response to rising sea levels is a pressing societal challenge.
RealDania has supported the City of Copenhagen and the Hvidovre Municipality to protect the inlet to Kalvebodbroen against storm surges.
They have also worked with the Middelfart municipality on a new Climate Adaption project for the harbour area.
Climate Harbour at Middelfart (source)
BloxHUB coworking space for built environment companies
BloxHUB coworking space for sustainable urbanisation
Whilst in Copenhagen, I visited the BloxHUB coworking space for innovative companies working on sustainable urbanisation challenges (as they call it). I absolutely loved the vibe and mission behind this building, so much so that I'll be writing a separate article about it shortly.
KLIMA100 published in 2018 (source)
RealDania also write incredibly helpful publications. I found the Klima100 publication particularly interesting as it documents 100 of the "best climate solutions from Danish municipalities that have already been implemented".
This is valuable information for other countries around the world who can learn from Denmark's leading knowledge of these issues.
This article is meant to provide a shallow overview of the phenomenal work carried out by this organisation in the hope that it inspires action.
What resonates for me was just how much the Danish people recognise this link between a high-quality built environment and a high quality of life for its citizens.