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Transnational Neighborhood in Tensta, Stockholm

Million Housing Apartment in Tensta, ”Restructuring Swedish Modernist Housing,” Matti Ostling (2012). Courtesy of the author.

Site Brief:

Site Briefs provide the framework for the In Residence: Call for Intervention Strategies and Call for Associated Projects, and open up architectural questions associated to each site.

The neighborhoods of some European cities with high concentrations of migrants provide a framework where the realms of domesticity and identity are negotiated within diversity. In an unprecedented construction project, the Social Democratic government of Sweden set itself the goal of building 1,000,000 residences between 1965 and 1974. Similar in goal to other European initiatives but outnumbering them all in units constructed, the program aimed to alleviate the housing shortage in the growing urban areas of the country. Located northwest of central Stockholm, Tensta is one of the neighborhoods resulting from this endeavor, known as the Million Dwelling Program, which included developments in the outskirts of major cities from Gothenburg to Uppsala. At Tensta, which was originally conceived for Swedish working class families, approximately 90% of the population now has a migrant background according to “Reports from New Sweden.”[1]

The homogenous landscape of blocks surrounded by pedestrian green areas and the standardized designs of two and three bedroom apartments that were originally created for Swedish families (which professor Erik Stenberg has analyzed) have been enriched and transformed by a diversity of domestic occupations.[2] Moreover, the original lack of infrastructure and services has been increasingly supplemented both by government initiatives and by local networks and neighborhood associations. The abstract sequence of late modernist facades is now punctuated by a plantation of satellite antennas, which enrich the local scene with remote sounds and images from television channels based in distant countries that build the new global domestic landscape. However, rather than dissolving the spatial challenges of these communities, these transnational networks and seemingly immaterial mediations put pressure on architecture’s capacity to articulate diversity.

Amidst the changing European political context and the current migration and refugee crises on the continent, Tensta allows us to question the ways in which architecture and urbanism have contributed to the integration of previous migratory trends. Moreover, Tensta can be considered an arena where the original ambitions of the welfare state project construct an opportunity for the discussion of housing policies, raising questions about homeownership, integration, and cohabitation, both regarding the adaptation of the existing stock of housing for new inhabitants and the future development of the city. [3]

Site Report (A Teaser):

Ahmet Ögüt and Emily Fahlén

Reports about the sites have been commissioned from a group of international architects, artists, journalists, and other professionals. The commission for these reports is intended to challenge ideas of ‘site’ solely concerned with geometric boundaries and contextual references. Intervention strategies and associated projects do not need to respond to these reports.

In Residence: Sites