Building for better social integration is one of the key future challenges that the city is focusing on. It’s been a priority for Stockholm-based urban planning consultant, Mia Lundström, for several years now - and something she is working to improve throughout the city.
“Without social integration, people don’t meet each other or come to understand different cultures. This leads to conflict, which in turn causes a lot of damage both financially and on a personal level.”
Mia has recently been tasked with supporting a regeneration project planned in Kista, a district in the north-west of Stockholm - strategically located between the airport and the city centre. It’s one of the world’s leading ICT clusters, with head offices for companies including Ericsson, IBM, and Fujitsu based there.
It’s also home to one of the city’s largest immigrant neighbourhoods, inhabited by a blend of ethnic groups including Somalis, Bosnians, South Americans, and Iraqis. With no cultural connection to the area, one challenge has been getting the residents to feel pride in their neighbourhood.
“Right now there are about 25,000 people working in Kista, and also about 12,500 people living there. But these groups never meet and come from different backgrounds. It’s my job to make Kista more attractive to all these people.”
And with around 6,000 new housing units planned for the district, it’s a top priority to transform it sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, if anyone is equipped to guide the change, it’s Mia. She’s just wrapped up a similar project in Jakobsberg, a district in the Järfälla Municipality just 10km northwest of Kista.
She was initially commissioned by three Swedish property developers who had bought a piece of land in the area. The municipality owned the land and agreed to sell it on the condition that the developers initiated the process of improving the area for locals and tourists.
The two-year project helped to transform the area into a destination people wanted to visit, invest in, and are proud to call home.
“I always work with what’s already there. So in Jakobsberg, we worked with Kvarnbacken,” she said, referring to a wooded hilltop near central Jakobsberg where an iconic windmill once stood.
“We also ran a design workshop in a local shopping mall and got the kids to draw pictures of lampposts which we then created and installed. So someone could say, ‘My brother designed that lamppost!’”