Siorarsiorfik Urban Design Guidelines

Nuuk City Development is a part of the local strategic planning effort to make Nuuk the Arctic capital of the world. The city is expected to grow significantly in the near future, and therefore a design manual has been developed to ensure the progress is of high quality. The masterplan and design manual was developed by a project team including partners from other Nordic countries. The team consisted of the municipality, architecture firms, and a legal group. Examples of how to incorporate infrastructure and buildings in the landscapes, and vice versa, are found in the manual. It also gives examples of design initiatives needed for city development. The manual is considered a tool for architects, engineers, and caseworkers.


To formulate the vision with an international perspective, and to focus on what is important globally, the manual uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs are included in all chapters of the manual, that is, everything from infrastructure to art. Interestingly, the SDGs are seen as tools and not as goals; methods and not ambitions. For example, SDG 13 (Climate action) is fundamental to design vision, as the city’s topography should be integrated into the planning.

Photographer: Kitte Witting

This highlights the landscape / winter landscape and nature in the area. Moreover, Greenland’s specific climate should also be incorporated into the development of the city, for example, new areas should not cause wind acceleration, and snow removal should be made easy. Besides environmental sustainability, the manual also features social perspectives.

Photographer: Nikolaj Bock

In connection to SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), for example, public transport should be made available also to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, and people with disabilities, and the residential buildings should be planned so that they are accessible to people with different needs and demands. The manual offers sustainable thinking on all levels, while still putting effort into design and art.


The manual offers an example of how the SGDs can be incorporated in local level planning. Urban areas and cities are developed from a global reference point, so that the SDGs are included in practice already at a planning stage. The development of the city has begun, for example, by regarding traffic and infrastructure. The design manual is, however, only the first of many to come.

Photographer: Silje Bergum Kinsten

The City of Nuuk hope to develop several manuals focusing on different topics and in the processes, it will be interesting to work with the SDG targets and indicators as planning guidelines. This will result in several concrete and detailed tools in the future.


By developing a manual, the political will is directly communicated to all involved in city planning and development. The tool enables an easy way to incorporate sustainable thinking at all levels. A manual could be used also in other regions and municipalities, especially as many regions also face fast growth and a need for sustainable thinking.

Photographer: Ane Cecilie Blichfeldt

The initiative can inspire any urban area or city in the world to link urban planning and development to the SDGs. Moreover, this manual is a great example of working with the SDGs in practice. The City of Nuuk also believe that this is just one of many ways of working with the SDGs . The SDGs can be incorporated, and used as tools, in many other ways.