How can architecture contribute to democracy?

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, February 6-10, presents the exhibition, PANORAMA – aiming for democratic architecture. The exhibition highlights how architecture can contribute to democracy, and it hopes to initiate a discussion on this topic.

In Sweden, architects and urban planners are trying to work with how architecture can contribute to democracy in many different ways.

Aiming for democratic architecture is an exhibition that shows – in texts and moving images – 34 spaces from all over Sweden, in different scales, with different functions and underlying values as essential red threads.

The exhibition Aiming for democratic achitecture is produced by Architects Sweden for the Swedish Institute and is made available in a toolkit formate for Swedish Foreign Missions globally.  34 spaces from all over Sweden are shown in text and in  in different scales, with different functions and underlying values as essential red threads. The toolkit aims at creating a meeting place between people and ideas, and putting architecture and democratic matters at the core of the ongoing debate about public space: who does it belong to, who creates it, and for whom?

There are a lot of parameters to consider when building a neighborhood: children, the environment, infrastructure, etc. Our profession is very socially involved,” says Julia Hertzman, who together with Tove Wallsten from Architects Sweden is working with the exhibition. “There is considerable interest in pursuing a dialogue and collaboration with all stakeholders, and in particular the residents or students in the future schools. There is a strong focus on the big picture.”

With the help of architect-artist-designer collective, MYCKET, Architects Sweden has created an exhibition space that tries to illustrate this process using various concepts. “We have thought about which tools we can use and realized that the Swedish language has various expressions which are typical Swedish and can be a little hard to understand: Gräsrotsrörelse (grassroots movement); Skogräns (shoe border); Regelverk (regulation); Allemansrätt (right of public access); Statsapparat (government apparatus),” says Katarina Bonnevier, who runs MYCKET together with Ullis Ohlgren, Mariana Alves Silva and Thérèse Kristiansson.

These expressions form the common thread running through the exhibition. The stand itself will offer different environments and panoramas. It will be easy to enter – a welcoming place for everyone.

The exhibition is a cooperation between Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, Architects Sweden and MYCKET. It is based on an assignment from the Swedish Institute. In total, 34 companies and institutions will be contributing to the exhibition – from small architecture firms to Stockholm’s cultural hub, Kulturhus.

“The visitors will be met by moving pictures that illustrate different projects on the theme ‘Aiming for democratic architecture’”, explains Julia Hertzman. “It can be some kind of super-happening. The overall objective is to reach the visitors at the fair who would like to stop, take a break, reflect, discuss and think. We also want to give people food-for-thought.”