Live like a Swede


During the 1950s (?), Swedes carefully observed women’s prodecures in the kitchen to optimize the layout of kitchens

The Museum of Modern Art and the Center for Architecture and Design have become basically one museum during the past years. Also, those museums’ permanent exhibitions are free of charge since last year. So good! (It’s one of these things that I have obviously read about but only now see and feel in real life. Just like that the PUB mall has become “Haymarket” or that Sweden has new bills so that I now walk around with a 20 kr bill you cannot use anywhere anymore.)

Yesterday, when we checked out the Modern Art, I also quickly popped into ArkDes (guess what that stands for and see above for hints). I wish I had had more time! They made an exhibition about bostadsbristen, the never-ending topic of housing shortage in Swedish cities. Interestingly, they started off speaking about the nyanlända, newcomers, as the refugees are called, and the texts were rather obviously trying to calm people’s fears of newcomers’ aggravting the housing issue.

Disregarding political agendas, I was more interested – as usual – in the historical and statistical part. They had built up an apartment from 1910 in which 13 people lived. You could walk around in those 35 square metres and really feel the narrowness. I especially liked their evaluation about what Swedes had liked most on the most popular website for house hunting, The typical Swede wants white walls, wooden floors, stone countertops in the kitchen, a fireplace and a space for socialising. In that regard, I am the typical Swede.

The disastrous housing situation in Stockholm and other big cities often evokes the feeling that Sweden is “full”. The exhibition cast light on just how absurd that feeling is because Sweden is the size of Germany and Austria together but only has a tenth of the people living there. In Sweden, it’s not the major cities that are growing most, but actually the university towns are thriving. The exhibition’s expert claimed that it was not the job market that made people move to the big cities but rather the offers there. I am sceptical about that because I do know some people who wouldn’t live in the big cities if they just could get a job and some infrastructure in the smaller places. But yes, that’s my anedoctial evidence…



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