A more sustainable Stockholm: reshaping neighbourhoods and modernising construction

About the Affordable Cities blog series and #BetterUrbanHousing
People living in cities across the world are facing the effects of the housing affordability and cost-of-living crisis. OECD Champion Mayors recently endorsed the new “OECD Brussels Blueprint for Affordable cities and Housing for All” at the Brussels Urban Summit where they shared innovative solutions to tackle these challenges and drive more inclusive economic growth. They continue to drive efforts that shape a more affordable, equitable and resilient urban future. www.oecd-inclusive.com/champion-mayors/

It is no exaggeration to say that we live in challenging times. The war in Ukraine, plus inflation in food and electricity prices has pushed the cost of living too high for many residents of Stockholm.

Mixing it up

As the Mayor of Stockholm I do have a toolbox to create a fairer and more equal housing market. The city is planning for 140 000 new homes before 2030. To ensure a good mix, we will provide different types of housing in regards to size, rental or owning, as well as affordable housing. This will be realised by for example building condominiums in rental apartment areas and rental apartments in condominiums areas.

Turning around deprived neighbourhoods

I have recently launched a new major social inclusion project in Stockholm called Focus Järva. The idea is to turn around two of the city’s most deprived districts. In more recent years, unemployment in these two city districts has increased significantly and many of the residents do not feel safe. The Focus Järva project provides a long-term plan to invest in, among other things, traffic, schools, housing, social services, recreational activities, safety and urban development to transform these neighbourhoods.

Bringing communities together

We are doing our best to create integrated communities. Historically, we have built residential areas as enclaves separated from each other by roads. Through urban development, we want to break that down. It may involve physically building the city together with houses, but also creating new connections, such as cycle paths and public transport. Creating these strategic connections is important in achieving a city that holds together socially and economically.

Stockholm is currently undergoing a historic expansion of its infrastructure, including through new subway lines, enabling more people to expand their horizons and access opportunities for work, housing and education over longer distances.

Using modern construction methods

To build thousands of new rental apartments, the City of Stockholm has launched one of its largest development projects called Stockholmshusen (The Stockholm Houses). The goal of the project, that today includes approximately 3 300 new tenancies, is to save time and reduce costs by repeating the design, and working with prefabricated materials and overlapping processes. By working in parallel with overlapping processes, lead times can be shortened and the total time from idea to finished house can be halved from eight years to four years. These production methods, deployed at scale reduce costs over time and enable lower rental levels than traditional building approaches.

At the same time, the houses are built with high standards of sustainability and energy efficiency, with easy access by bicycle and to car pools. Stockholmhusen are well-designed houses with great care for details and in harmony with the surrounding buildings. A design programme provides guidelines for how the houses should look on the outside, no matter where they are built. The design program has been developed in collaboration between the housing companies, concept architects and the City of Stockholm’s technical administrations.

Powering progress

To conclude, I believe that city planning can be a powerful tool that really can help steer development in a socially sustainable direction, and with wise and strategic planning, I am convinced our approach will benefit the entire municipality and help ensure all residents can afford housing at a reasonable cost.

About the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative
Created in 2016, the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative is a global coalition of mayors who meet on a regular basis to share their experience in the pursuit of inclusive growth in cities. Since its inception, over 100 different mayors from around the world have joined the Initiative, contributing their voice to the global debate, and making major strides in their cities toward youth empowerment, sustainable climate policy and support for SMEs. The Champion Mayors will meet at the Brussels Urban Summit on 13 June to drive change on improving housing affordability and cost of living for residents in their cities.

Mayor of Stockholm | + posts

Karin Wanngård was elected as Mayor of Stockholm in
September 2022. The majority she leads aims to futureproof the city
as an equal, open and climate-smart city. With the residents of
Stockholm at the centre of decision-making, Mayor Wanngård is
determined to lead the City of Stockholm forward.
Karin Wanngård was born in Stockholm in 1975. She has a
background in human resources management and entered the
Stockholm City Council in 1994. She was the city’s Mayor between
2014-2018 and acted as Opposition Vice Mayor between 2018-
2022. Karin Wanngård is a member of Eurocities Executive