Vegastaden & Södertälje
Elastiska Hem (Elastic Homes)
Elastiska Hem is an innovation and research project that explores diverse forms of shared living and shared economy in local housing areas.
Sweden needs to reduce consumption, energy and material use while managing an alarming housing shortage, while simultaneously preventing non-voluntary loneliness
and fostering a strong social capital in growing cities. One particular challenge is the high percentage of single households, especially prevalent in Stockholm. For architects, used to being assigned contracts for conventional housing construction with isolated single households, this challenge may appear out of their reach. Kod Arkitekter decided to initiate Elastiska Hem as a way of exploring alternative housing solutions in a society demanding increased sharing in terms of living and consuming. The home is a powerful base from which to perform experiments of sustainable lifestyles, and architecture is an important tool for achieving this. As architects, Kod Arkitekter are used to co-create their results with other professions, but the user’s role – i.e., that of the resident – is seldom emphasised in their daily work. As new innovations are needed to overcome today’s complex housing challenges, the Elastiska Hem project was deemed a productive response to Kod Arkitekter’s perceived frustration over status quo procedures in construction, planning and housing design.
Good practices & solutions
Elastiska Hem is considered a user-centered and co-creative process focussing on using a large variety of knowledge and experience to develop and test prototypes iteratively with and for the individuals who are supposed to inhabit the new housing areas developed during the project. Consciously designing this process entails letting go of much of the otherwise centrally conducted project management, instead spreading responsibilities and power over the process to a number of working packages, each with their own participating and steering actors, albeit not independent of the project. Service designers were picked out as participants at an early stage in order to achieve as user-centered a perspective as possible.
Whereas the process itself, out of perceived necessity, is rigorously structured from the beginning, the methodology is explored along the way. No existing concrete methods has been tested; rather, tools have been utilized according to the needs of project participants and users. Testing various methods is considered part of the process. However, a substantial part of the methodology so far could be directly found in Design Thinking and various design process tools. Also, scenario sketching and design fiction methods are utilized.
Prototypes and results will be employed in three different cases operating on three different societal levels; structural level, area level and neighbourhood level, which ensures that the project’s potential for societal impact is more easily realised. Keeping up to date with news and innovation in housing policies is key; participating company Kairos Future is conducting a business strategic planning on a national and international level in order to bring as much knowledge as possible into the process.
Outcome & opportunities
“One should not underestimate the importance of the home in building social
The vast scope of Elastiska Hem enables creating impact in several complex societal challenge areas; lack of housing, reducing consumption, loneliness and mental health, as well as strengthening social capital in local areas. The economic perspective is also somewhat present; it is already suggested that 10% of the population wants to share more within their housing context, which suggests that there is a market ready to scale the outcomes and models created during the project. There is also a possible step 3 in the funding programme, in which the housing companies would be willing to expand the results into larger prototypes and actual buildings and apartments, ready for people to move in to. However, there is no ambition to influence existing housing legislation, but rather to utilize the given system in order to change behavior and habits of living.
Lessons learned & recommendations
The challenge driven innovation programme of Vinnova is considered a valuableasset, as it allows for much creativity regarding problem formulation. Also, the UN SDGs provide a common language and set of concepts created for working with the given issues. These are two of the more structural mitigating factors. On a more operational level, an important prerequisite for Elastiska Hem is to approach actors with the ability to reach the reality of the user. Instead of focussing on organisations, it is important to consider the individuals working within these organisations, as the co-creation process is always heavily influenced by particular personal thoughts, competences and chemistry.
The administrative aspect may be less obvious, but is nevertheless an obstructing factor; it is a “horror scenario” for any project manager to coordinate the economy of such a diverse project. However, as Elastiska Hem is a pre-defined, carefully structured process, this significantly helps the coordinating effort. To have 60 individuals working in a randomly ongoing process would be unlikely to yield valuable outcomes, says Åsa Kallstenius, project manager.
Engaged partners and stakeholder groups
Bio Bo, BoKlok Housing, Bo Tillsammans, Boverket, City of Stockholm, Ebab, Ericsson, Fastighetsägarna Stockholm, Hyresgästföreningen, Igeia Health Labs, Kairos Future, Kollektivhus Nu,
KTH (Architecture, Green Leap), Stena Fastigheter, Stiftelsen Tryggare Sverige, Södertörn University, Telge Bostäder, Trygg-Hansa, Usify, Vitec.
Project: Stockholm Co-creation