Federation for
Housing and

Outcome Gothenburg Lab

On the 9th and 10th of June a team of international and local experts gathered in Gothenburg to share experiences and assess the impact of different housing strategies and finance models for Frihamnen, a new development area in the heart of the city.

The city Gothenburg is using Frihamnen, a neighbourhood within RiverCity which will become a test bed for sustainable development models, as a way of challenging the market to find new business models for affordable housing. In particular, the members of the Frihamnen builders consortium are looking for international expertise and experience that can contribute with examples from projects around Europe.

The lab was conceived with this purpose: to discuss different solutions for affordable housing, local production and consumption and interactions in a city.


Download the full Outcome document here


Day 1

The housing market in Gothenburg is in desperate need of more housing for the growing population. Urbanization and migration has created a housing shortage and therefore the city needs to respond to the increasing demand by building a sustainable housing system that supports the integration of affordable housing of all groups of citizens.

The opportunity to combat segregation and create inclusive communities is offered by the RiverCity area, in the heart of the Region of Gothenburg and with a strategic position inside the agglomeration, a sheer size and key-asset: the riverfront. Frihamnen is one neighbourhood within RiverCity which will become a test bed for sustainable development models. 

During the first day of the Lab, the case of Frihamnen has been presented by the representatives of the Consortium, underlining the key challenges and goals. Next, the presentations by the international experts provoked an animated discussion on other possible approaches to affordable housing provision.


Day 2

Exemplary concepts from foreign countries have been discussed and tested by the Lab team during the second day. The existing and fully designed master plan has been reconsidered though different discussion topics (financial models, housing typologies, city scale development, development phases), not focusing on the final result but more on the process, as part of which flexibility and users constitute a high priority. Using temporality as a strategy to test new programs and attract stakeholders, residents and small investors, Frihamnen has been imagined as a place of organically-produced diversity. Maybe this image will become the basis for a new experimentation and innovation phase in the Frihamnen development. 


Recommendations and concerns contributed by the Lab:

  • It is important to set up criteria for access to affordable housing. This is to make sure that low-income household actually benefits from the rent reduction.
  • An organic planning process allocates both risk and revenue on many different parties. The opportunity to invest in your own home can pay off long term and justify the initial risk. Thus, the development of an area benefits the people living there and not just a few building companies. 
  • Social housing does not need to be stigmatizing or controversial. Housing solutions for specific social groups can blend into an urban landscape and not be noticeable. 
  • To make an impact there needs to be a substantial amount of social housing units available to meet demands. 
  • Temporary activities can be used to create interest in an area, to engage locals and to test and evaluate the demand of service and infrastructure. However, the newfound interest can amount to a rise of the prices, and drive away the people who initially occupied the space.
  • It can be problematic when temporary solutions end. Whether it is a temporary park, a pop-up shop or a fixed rent level - people will adjust to the temporary and protest might arise when this is taken away. 
  • The residents are a resource and can contribute with development and maintenance.
  • Incubators of various kinds can contribute with prototyping and can help establish start-ups in a market. A flexible framework, especially regarding commercial space, can enable local production and consumption.
  • After the initial building phase, prices will increase and the last phases can be more expensive. It is important to assure low rents and prices from the start.
  • Make sure the ambitions will last long term. What if the property sells to another developer who changes the rentals to ‘owning’ or increase the rent?


For more information about the IFHP Gothenburg  Lab, please contact IFHP CEO Anette Galskjøt  

In collaboration with: