New forum for discussion and cooperation on housing issues
Anna Granath Hansson is one of the researchers in the new network for housing research in Stockholm (Forum för Bostadsforskning Stockholm), who wants to create input and discussion around housing issues. In time, she and her colleagues hope that the network will lead to more joint research projects and co-publications across organisational and subject boundaries.
How did this collaboration come about?
- "Peter Ekbäck from our department and Elisabeth Ahlinder from Stockholm University met at a doctoral thesis defence in Oslo and began to discuss starting a network of some kind around housing issues. It has now been developed into a collaborative initiative between the Department of Law and the Department of Cultural Geography at Stockholm University, the Department of Real Estate and Construction Management here at KTH, Fastighetsägarna Sverige and Public Housing Sweden. Stockholm University has applied for funding and now we have a small budget and have initiated with the first seminars. Everyone provides input on topics and discussion points. We are five researchers who are currently involved, but we hope that more people will want to get involved. It is a great collaboration!”
Why is a new network needed for housing research?
- “The idea is to promote dialogue, collaboration and exchange of experiences between researchers and the rest of society on housing issues. Of course, there are already a number of networks in Sweden that relate to housing research in various ways. With the FBS, we want to focus a little extra on the boundaries between law, geography and real estate research, as there are many points of contact between the subject areas. It creates an interdisciplinarity among the network members and provides a broad opportunity for many exciting questions and angles. We also felt that there was no network to discuss this in Stockholm, many other networks are located in smaller cities. The housing issue is really constantly relevant here, and in many ways perhaps it is even the most difficult to solve right here in the capital."
The idea is to offer a forum through recurring seminars that opens up for discussion, networking and in time hopefully new collaborations and joint projects. Anna sees great opportunities for broad collaboration and dialogue for housing researchers.
- “We want the network to offer opportunities to both listen to interesting seminars and to discuss and analyze new research results with researchers from other disciplines. There is great value in being able to find informal contacts and create new networks across subject boundaries. It can be a way to find others who can give feedback before publication, which of course is especially valuable for doctoral students and researchers early in their careers. Plus it can be good that it is not the same circle that gives feedback every time, someone from a different discipline may see something completely different in the text. We hope that more doctoral students and postdocs will come to us and take the opportunity to talk about their research, get to know eachother, and discuss freely. Everyone who wants to discuss and present is welcome!”
What is currently happening in the network?
- “We have met a number of times in the research group to get to know each other, gone through everyone's research and found contact points. We actually started last year, but then we were delayed by the pandemic. However, we were lucky enough to meet once before the pandemic restrictions were introduced, but since then we have conducted meetings and activities digitally. In the autumn, Stockholm University invited researchers interested in housing issues to a launch event where we presented FBS and invited dialogue and collaboration. At our first seminar at the end of last year, doctoral student Lisa Bergsten from KTH talked about creative forms of leasing and new doctor Saki Bailey from the University of Gothenburg spoke about a model for solutions to the urban housing crisis. It was very successful! Everyone who took part also got the chance to contribute ideas for upcoming events. We have received some suggestions, for example to have lunch seminars for researchers.”
Last week, FBS conducted its second seminar focusing on the role and development of tenancies. During 90 minutes, three studies were presented and discussed. Ida Borg (Department of Cultural Geography, Stockholm University) presented a study on changing the form of tenure over time, from young adults to adults, where the study sheds light on different housing paths. Jennie Gustafsson spoke about a survey of the development of the rental sector in Malmö and the development of tenants' socio-economic status between the years 1996-2016. Hannes Rolf, Center for Civil Society Research, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University, presented his thesis "A Union for the Homes : Collective Mobilisation, Tenant Organising and Power Struggle on the Rental Market in Stockholm and Gothenburg 1875–1942". There was good attendance and Anna sees advantages in conducting seminars at Zoom.
- “It really feels like many people are getting used to it now and using the digital options in a really good way. It is possible to create a great conversation climate digitally too. Digital forums also create a unique opportunity to join wherever you are, as long as the time works. It opens up for a broader event which is great. Despite the fact that the word Stockholm is included in the network's name, people from all over the country participates in the audience and are active in the discussions. It also provides an increased opportunity for a breadth among the speakers - one of the lecturers at the first seminar was present via a university in the USA. We hope to conduct another digital seminar in the spring and then something in the autumn. But, with that said, I look forward to having seminars and discussions physically in the future!”
Nordic Research Collaboration Network
The Department of Real Estate and Construction Management is active in a number of other networks. Anna talks about the Nordic Research Collaboration Network, which Peter Ekbäck has been involved in and initiated:
- “Nordic Research Collaboration Network is a Nordic research network with a focus on land use. All four Nordic countries are participating, and the purpose is to initiate pan-Nordic research projects and to offer a Nordic doctoral student school with a series of doctoral courses. The network includes Aalto in Finland, Aalborg in Denmark, NMBU in Norway and LTH and KTH here in Sweden. Several joint research projects have been carried out and some are ongoing. The joint doctoral course programme is already underway on a small scale and Peter has received funding to develop it further. The first course was completed at KTH last Autumn. A real highlight according to our doctoral students! They made new friends and could get in touch with each other between courses, exchange articles and discuss their projects. We hope that more doctoral students and supervisors will find their way to the next course! There are several new doctoral courses underway, and one of them will focus on housing, specifically land issues and real estate law."
What else are you doing right now?
- “Jenny Paulsson, Peter Ekbäck and I have just published an article about the Swedish forms of tenancy in apartment buildings and the sliding scale between ownership and right of use. The topic is interesting not least in relation to the hybrids between the various forms of tenancy that are now being developed in an attempt to meet the demand for more affordable rents and prices - Studies can shed light on how different forms affect the residents from different aspects. How safe is it for the people who buy or rent their home that way? What is their legal status? It is not certain that it turns out welll even if the intentions are good. Individuals can end up in trouble. This is an important issue in housing policy that requires more legal research. Jenny Paulsson's doctoral student Lisa Bergsten will look at this issue specifically in the next step in her doctoral project.”
Anna is also involved in a major Norwegian research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The project will investigate sustainable ways to make more heterogeneous cities available to more people through initiatives in urban planning. For Anna, this means compiling a European outlook on how this has been handled in other countries. The project runs until 2023 and will result in a number of articles and comparisons between the Swedish and Norwegian systems with other countries. She is also involved in another project with a Nordic focus, where the project focuses on how to meet the need for housing for people with lower incomes in market-based project development. Anna appreciates the wide opportunities for collaborations and applied projects.
- “I have been here at KTH since 2014 and it is the most interesting job I have ever had. It's so fun! The stereotype of a researcher as someone who sits alone in his/her room and writes is certainly not true at all, there are many exciting opportunities for networks and collaborations in the housing sector. Now I hope that FBS will grow to also include joint projects, and that more researchers from different subject areas will take the chance to participate in the next seminar and contribute with their ideas! ”
Text: Josefin Backman
This is the third article in the School of Architecture and the Built Environment 's new series of articles on selected research, education or collaboration initiatives from each department. You can find the previous articles here:
- KTH Architecture: Introducing Lighting Design Research in Architecture
- Civil and Architectural Engineering: He is planning a new student competition about self-sufficiency