ArkDes, and the Swedish Housing Crunch

From its Rotunda Library, to high fashion streets; from its historical old town to modern day home furnishing, Swedish architecture and design is popular for its sleek, smart but non-flashy functionalist architecture. The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, or ArkDes is a museum dedicated to urban planning and design.

Located in the same building as the Moderna Museet, ArkDes is a museum of architectural history, Swedish architectural history. It has permanent exhibitions that showcase, using models, Swedish architecture through the ages. 

As of today, it has two temporary exhibitions, a gingerbread-Christmas competition,

And an exhibition on the Stockholm housing crisis. The Stockholm housing crisis may seem like a recent problem but is really an old one. It has been around for almost 100 years.

This house for example, had to squeeze two adults and 6 children. Look at the size of the TV for reference.

The problem arose simply because of the increase in demand for houses (Stockholm being the place to be after World War 2 and cities themselves being the places of opportunity in the industrial age). This became a huge political problem and a research institute was set up to study how much space was needed for people to live.

Because of the growth of the Swedish economy through Stockholm’s boom (Sweden was officially neutral during WW2 and hence Stockholm was spared from destruction) in the 1950s and 60s the nations coffers were growing at a rate that was able to sustain a huge infrastructural development to capitalise on the nation’s economic growth. An attempt was made from 1965 to 1974 to deal with the crisis through the launch of the Million Programme which sought to ensure that everyone could obtain housing in Stockholm for a reasonable price. Whole districts were built from the ground up, such as Skarholmen.

The programme a success and over the lifetime of the programme, 1 million units were built and there was a net increase of 650,000 dwellings in Stockholm. However as Stockholm has grown, the housing problem has resurfaced. Apart from taking in refugees, Stockholm is a growing attraction for students and businesses which has again driven up the demand for houses in the city.

While people want houses, there are also people who have been driven out of their houses, there are homeless people in Stockholm. Peoplw who have fallen on hard times.

Creative design competitions have been launched to collect ideas that would make use of the existing space to give these homeless people a home.

How will the Stockholm Municipality deal with the present housing crunch?



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