research design and methods
4.2. CASE AREA ‘MARKET’
4.2.1. Context: Kvillebäcken
The case of Kvillebäcken is considered relevant for studying the discourse among actors within ‘the market’ (here delimited as housing developers, real estate companies, consultants and others involved in shaping the built reality of the housing market), as it is an on-going development, branded as a “new green district”.
Within the next few decades the center of Göteborg is envisioned to expand across the river Göta Älv incrementally, mainly on renewed brownfield sites.
Kvillebäcken, which provides the case for the first empirical insights (corresponding to papers I and II), is one of the early developments within a larger general plan.
The project is run by a consortium consisting of the seven developers - privately or municipally owned - as well as the municipal owned development company Älvstranden Utveckling AB, together with the municipal planning office.
Upon completion it will comprise of 2000 apartments in a central urban location, making it a significant example of the contemporary understanding of sustainable urban development. The previous miscellaneous low-rise small-scale industrial
Figure 9. Diagram of research strategy, based on Wang (2007)
focus group obser-vation SusLab
character of Eastern Kvillebäcken was demolished and a new grid structure master plan established, split into four phases of execution: three residential and one business phase. Each developer has been allotted a part or set of blocks. Building heights will range between four to sixteen stories and the intention is to create a diverse architectural expression within a dense building mass. Space for various types of businesses and services will complement the residential units, providing the area with daycare facilities, offices and so on.
The project aims to be a model for sustainable urban development and Kvillebäcken will be one of the first districts in Göteborg that is built according to the city’s local environmental demands, for example requiring a max of 60 kWh/m2 delivered energy, surpassing the national regulations on energy use. The consortium established a mutual vision in the form of the “Kvillebäcken treaty”, stipulating that the developers agree to transform Kvillebäcken into a “socially, economically and ecologically sustainable urban district”. In order to elaborate what this means more specifically in this area, a program for Sustainable Development in Kvillebäcken was also created (Kvillebäckskonsortiet, 2011).
4.2.2. Outline of study and research questions
Overall study design was intended to explore Kvillebäcken, an area that is advertised as a ‘green’ housing development, where several actors within the sector are involved.
The purpose of this study was to map perspectives on sustainability and the development of homes within the housing market (the supply side), focusing on key practitioners identified to be relevant to the research: developers and architects.
Figure 10. Kvillebäcken (grey) in relation to the river & future expansion of the city centre (dotted)
Research questions explored in the case of Kvillebäcken were:
1) How is sustainability (relating to design and housing concepts) interpreted and realized in the development of Kvillebäcken - what terminology is used?
2) What are the perceived drivers for a sustainable housing development?
4.2.3. Semi-structured interviews with developers
An interview study was carried out primarily in May and June of 2012 (with the exception of one interview, held in January 2013) with representatives from the marketing or development departments at the companies developing housing in Kvillebäcken - seven interviews (eight participants) in total. The first six interviews were held in English as research intern Zuber participated, with the support of Hagbert or Femenías. The final interview was held in Swedish. Possible language barriers must be taken into account, although is not deemed to have a major impact on the results. It should be noted that one interview included two respondents.
The presence of a secondary researcher in most of the interviews might also have influenced the flow of the interview sessions, yet provided an analytical rigor.
An interview guide (see appendix) was designed containing three main sections:
a general introduction to the company and the types of dwellings they build; the perceived stance on innovation within the company; and identified drivers for innovation and development of housing concepts. The interviewer kept to the interview guide as far as possible, following the same sequence of questions and progression of the three sections throughout the interviews. However, minor variations naturally occurred due to the length and focus of the respective interviewee’s response (Kvale
& Brinkmann, 2008). The interviews were recorded in full and transcribed relaying the full content of the interviews, though not the manner in which responses were given. The material was then coded, using markers on three levels: content relating to the company/sector in general or to Kvillebäcken in specific; content belonging to identified reoccurring main themes of the interview; and content specific to subthemes that might or might not be reoccurring throughout the interviews. In line with grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2009),
emerging patterns were analyzed in depth and in relation to the material as a whole.
In order to visualize observed patterns, a quantitative text analysis was conducted with the help of doctoral student Mangold. A bias emerging from the interviewer’s wording was mitigated by adding the words most frequently used by interviewees as well as interviewer and subsequently comparing the ratio.
4.2.4. Focus group workshop with architects
As expressed by Kitzinger (1995) a focus group is appropriate for when you want to examine how ideas develop and are applied within a specific group context. A focus group (Kitzinger, 1995; Rabiee, 2004) was conducted in December 2012 with eight participants during two hours. Invitations were sent out to the in total five architectural offices that worked on the Kvillebäcken project for the seven different developers (two offices worked for two developers each), and at least one representative from each office participated in the focus group. The group was homogenous in the respect that all are middle-income architects employed at mid to large offices, yet heterogeneous in terms of age and gender (three women, five men).
The session was structured into two parts. First participants were divided into smaller groups of two or three to discuss a series of questions regarding the perception of sustainable development within the housing sector; significant components or aspects of sustainability identified; as well as norms and alternative housing concepts. The second part took the form as an open focus group more specifically addressing the role of the architectural profession in a sustainable housing development. Although the outspoken aim was not to discuss Kvillebäcken specifically, the discussions where quite naturally provided with anecdotes from the particular project. The session was recorded in writing by three participating researchers and analyzed according to emerging themes in the notes.