Is there any space for compact housing in sustainable development? – Insights from Sweden
Abstract: The Earth’s population is steadily increasing and there is a fast growing urbanization as people move from rural areas to cities. Lack of housing is a big issue in many cities. At the same time, dwellings are growing in size demanding more land and natural resources, a development which is not sustainable in the long run. That is problematic as it occupies land and requires natural resources, which is not necessarily sustainable. The aim of this study was to examine the prerequisites for compact housing in Sweden and whether it is a widespread phenomenon or not. Case studies were carried out in three ‘sustainable’ housing and city planning projects (BoKompakt, Hållbarheten and Brunnshög) and in-depth interviews conducted with responsible actors. The impact of the building regulations was also identified as an important issue and therefore Boverket, the Swedish Housing Authority, was included in the investigation. The case studies show that it is more common to implement aspects like sustainable materials and energy efficiency rather than downsizing the dwellings in sustainable housing projects. When compact housing is considered it is mainly due to economical rather than ecological reasons. One obstacle for compact housing are the strict building regulations, BBR, and the requirements of accessibility. So far, the regulations have only been questioned for student housing. The conclusion is that compact housing is not especially widespread in Sweden but as the prerequisites are getting more supportive, it could hopefully spread more.
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