Swedish government introduces new benchmarks for architecture and design

The Swedish government has introduced a set of architecture and design targets, to make Sweden a more “sustainable, equal and less segregated society”, and they have been welcomed by architects and designers. 

The Stamped Living Environment Bill lays out plans to make sustainability and quality integral to the design process.

Architects and designers should ensure good practice is shared broadly and that public environments are designed to be accessible to all, states the policy.

“Architecture, form and design will contribute to a sustainable, equal and less segregated society with carefully-styled living environments, all of which are given good conditions for influencing the development of the common environment,” it reads.

It has largely been welcomed by the Swedish architecture and design community, although some concerns have been raised about whether the policy will be enforced.

Swedish architecture and design museum welcomes bill

Swedish museum and research centre built environment ArkDes praised the introduction of the bill.

The organisation’s director and Dezeen columnist Kieran Long said:  “Sweden has become one of the most ambitious countries in the world in its belief that design can improve people’s lives.”

“In some places this has become an unfashionable view: here it is now the government line,” said the statement from Long. “The proposition describes an approach to shaping cities that demands that municipalities, government authorities, construction companies, developers and professionals put design at the very top of the priority list in all their decision making processes.”

ArkDes is planning to support the proposition by providing a platform for Swedish, as well as international, architects and designers to showcase best practice in public realm design.

Long said the government’s proposition throws down the gauntlet for architects and designers to demonstrate how their work can have a positive impact on people’s lives and to “move beyond good intentions”.

Government is right to make design a priority, say architects and designers

White Arkitekter‘s deputy CEO Carl Bäckstrand told Dezeen the policy outlines good practice that the studio has been fostering for years.

“At White Arkitekter we welcome this new policy. We feel that it promotes the interdisciplinary work process we have developed over the years,” said Bäckstrand.

“As we are a research-based practice we are looking forward to seeing how the government will manage the research funding they hint at being increased,” he continued. “New collaborations between academia and business are crucial to meet the challenges that the policy addresses and that we, as architects, know we are facing.”

Jonas Pettersson, the co-founder of Swedish design studio Form Us With Love, agreed that the introduction of the policy was a positive step for the industry. “It’s good to see our government put higher priority on design and architecture with the intention to increase quality and gain benefits for more people long-term in our society.”

“There is a need to build more homes, but also a need of quality that people can afford,” Pettersson told Dezeen. “We hope to see a positive change in how different competences collaborate in order to to so, like involving designers in creating a more sustainable life at home.”

But the ability for the bill to have a real-world impact has also been met with some skepticism. “I will be surprised if it makes a big difference for us or the industry,” Martin Videgård of Swedish practice Tham & Videgård Arkitekter told Dezeen.

“It’s a policy, a political statement to highlight the importance of architecture, which is on the other hand is something you can’t say too many times,” he continued.

Photograph is by Henryk Kotowski.

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