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Case studies

Socially-minded Land Allocation


Like many global cities, Stockholm must reckon with its rapidly growing population: by 2022, Stockholm’s population will reach one million. To cater for such rapid growth requires continuous development and innovation in effective urban planning, including venues for culture. The City has the unique advantage of owning 70% of the land within its geographical boundary. This gives Stockholm the ability to mandate strict requirements on new buildings in the face of the city’s recent growth. There are currently over 100 active and planned construction projects in and around the city – all with a strong focus on sustainability and the Stockholmers of today and tomorrow. Stockholm has been working collaboratively with private property developers and local actors to ensure high quality housing through a competitive process that places culture first.

A leading example is Focus Skärholmen: a 1960s suburb with over 30,000 residents that has become a testing zone for this new urban development model. With a fixed land price, developers competed not by cost but the social elements in their proposals. Social sustainability was one of the main judging criteria – in what way the proposed project would deliver maximum benefit for the common good, and how it builds partnerships with the local community such as in culture, sports and civil society. The resulting proposals include community-minded offerings that are coordinated in collaboration with local cultural actors who are most familiar with each area’s unique needs. Skärholmen’s surrounding areas of Vårberg, Sätra and Bredäng also offer large natural values, including several fantastic beaches, in addition to a vibrant community living centre.

The future of affordable housing is one of the most critical issues facing Stockholm. At the end of 2030, there will be 140,000 new houses in Stockholm, with one fifth of all housing ever built within the city occurring between 2020 and 2030. Under this new model for sustainable development, cultural activities and space for meetings, communal sports and local cultural life are made mandatory, with social sustainability leading the way for approved building projects. This ensures the holistic and long term needs of future residents, on social, cultural and personal levels, are prioritised and delivered.