Swedish Institute

Democratic architecture theme for Swedish program in New York


During the architectural month “Archtober” in New York, Sweden presents a week-long initiative on the theme of democratic architecture. The program presents different perspectives and approaches from both Sweden and the United States through a series of seminars and workshops, and an exhibition meeting place showcasing over thirty Swedish examples of democratic architecture in practice. In addition, during the week a large mural painting by artist Ola Kalnins will emerge on a building in Brooklyn.



What is democratic architecture? The program Swedish Design Moves New York starts with a look at the role of architecture in a democratic society. It’s about constructed environments that directly support a democratic system, issues of accessibility and equality, social and ecological sustainability and diversity in public spaces. It’s also about art and culture’s role in public spaces, as several of the projects will highlight.

The exhibition Aiming for Democratic Architecture gives examples of democratic architecture from all over Sweden. These include schools, health centers, libraries and public squares — projects based on the needs of different groups in specific environments. Thirty-four architectural offices and organizations have developed wordless films that illustrate groundbreaking projects. Another dimension of the exhibition is that visitors will remove their shoes and instead put on hand-knitted socks, partially to illustrate the phenomenon of shoe-free zones — one of six themes. At the exhibition, visitors will also be able to meet over a cup of coffee in a temporary living room.

A couple of projects are featured both in the exhibition and a workshop program in New York. One is Self Build City — a collaboration between KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Färgfabriken art house and Knivstabostäder housing association — which deals with inclusion and social sustainability.

In Knivsta municipality outside Stockholm, a pilot project is being carried out where job-seeking immigrants will be trained in construction and participate on the construction of an energy-efficient wooden house.

The other project is the New GoDown Arts Center in Nairobi, Kenya, a project that architectural firm White runs together with Kenyan partners, and which is about creating a place where culture and creativity go hand in hand with civil society and local community life.

A project that closely ties in with the local environment in New York and the issue of what and who may take up public space, is Swedish artist Ola Kalnins’ giant mural painting, which he will create on a four-story property in the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn. The mural will be painted between October 20 and 28, after which it will become a permanent feature of Brooklyn’s city scene.

Swedish Design Moves New York takes place at the Center for Architecture and the Van Alen Institute in New York on 24–28 October, and is a collaboration between Visit Sweden, the Swedish Institute, the Consulate General of Sweden in New York, STHLMNYC and Architects Sweden with support from Malmö City.

The program is open to the public and the schedule can be viewed here: https://www.swedishdesignmoves.com/swedish-design-moves-events-at-archtober

For additional information, please contact:

Jenny Bergström, Project Manager, Swedish Institute

jenny.bergstrom@si.se, +46 73 231 8526

Livia Podestá, Media Relations Manager, Swedish Institute

livia.podesta@si.se, +46 73 231 8536

The initiative is part of the design program Swedish Design Moves, which is commissioned by the Swedish Government and run by Visit Sweden in cooperation 

with Swedish Form, Association of Swedish Fashion Brands (ASFB), Architects Sweden and the Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture Industry during 2016–2019.

The architectural offices and organizations listed below participate in the exhibition Aiming for Democratic Architecture. A warm thanks to all who contributed material and movies, and to MYCKET (Mariana Alves Silva, Katarina Bonnevier and Thérèse Kristiansson) for design support and exhibition texts. Aiming for democratic architecture is produced for the Swedish Institute by Architects Sweden.

Ahrbom & Partner                                                                         

Block-by-Block Foundation                                                         


Dana Arkitektur                                                                             



City of Gothenburg, Jubileumsparken                            

Kista Library                                            


Kjellander Sjöberg                                                                         

Kod Arkitekter                                                                                

KTH school of architecture                                                         

Stockholm House of Culture & City Theatre                            

Link arkitektur                                                                                


Marge Arkitekter                                                                           

Murman Arkitekter                                                                       


Nivå landskapsarkitektur                                                             

Okidoki! Arkitekter                                                                        



Public Art Agency Sweden (Cirugeda/Cherinet)                      

City of Stockholm                                                                          






Wahlström & Steijner                                                                   

Wester & Elsner                                                                             



Örebro Municipality, Oset                                                           




Swedish Institute
Swedish Institute
Slottsbacken 10
111 30 Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 453 78 00http://www.si.se

The Swedish Institute (SI) is a public agency that promotes interest and confidence in Sweden around the world. SI seeks to establish cooperation and lasting relations with other countries through strategic communication and exchange in the fields of culture, education, science and business.


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