In march 2015 we had the opportunity to visit Sweden again, on invitation of Sveriges arkitekter in Linköping and de municipality in Norrköping. This invitation was related to the LivsRum/WoonRuimte exchange project we have been involved in. LivsRum/WoonRuimte is an initiative to stimulate the quality of housing architecture in Sweden by organizing exchange events between Dutch and Swedish architects. We used this opportunity to talk to local stakeholders on local housing and planning issues.
Linköping is a midsize (150.000) town on the east of Sweden. Norrköping (120.000). The two cities work together to create a strong region. Both cities are growing and are being challenged to build new housing for all their new inhabitant and Both cities are growing and building a lot of new houses. Norrkoping is f.i. working on Inre Hamnen, an area of 2000 houses. Linköping is working on BOmesse 2017/ Vallastaden a new innovative housing area of around 500 houses on the southern outskirts of the city.
After both lectures sharing information about the Dutch planning, architecture and housing tradition we have been discussing with the participants the local issues in housing and architecture. The architectural quality and diversity in housing is a question that needs attention in both cities. The role of the cityplanning office, in how to guard ambition throughout the whole process. Can they work with defining rules? What other means can the cityplanning office use to stimulate quality? Is it enough to sell smaller plots to attract also the smaller developers? At the Lecture in Linköping it was emphasized that there may be even a more urgent matter to deal with in planning and housing. That is segregation. It is stated that Linköping is the second most segregated city in Sweden with Skäggetorp with its around 10.000 inhabitants as the most problematic area. Should social mixture not be the key issues to address in urban planning of new and infill neighborhoods is one of the raised questions.
Christina Nilsson Collste, chairwoman of the Östergötland department of Sveriges Arkitekter believes that Linköping already has an interesting example of socially mixed planning, in the eighties neighborhood of Lambohov. Although there is a lot to criticize as well on this development, the social, financial and typological mix has really contributed to a more integrated neighborhood in her opinion. We have noticed a strong worry that Sweden is not handling segregated neighborhoods in the right way, from the spatial planning point of view. In Norrköping we have seen small attempts to diversify in the area Ringdansen, a Bijlmermeer-like scheme on the southern outskirts of Norrköping. Some floors of apartment blocks have been torn down to create lowrise housing with private gardens in an area that is dominated by small apartments. That this also demands a specific approach to the public-private border is maybe the next step to develop.
We will try to continue with a dialogue with the two cities and see if we can use the LivsRum/Woonruimte approach of exchanging knowledge and experience to stimulate the debate on architecture and housing.