Thursday, November 6, 2008


So is suburbia all bad? Not when this is your view from your balcony and you have a subway at the local shopping center to zip you downtown.
You could live high up in a high rise, with a sunny balcony facing the view, enjoying the comfort of apartment living.
Or you could be in an atrium rowhouse at the foot of the high rises, even closer to the beach.
Enjoying your own private garden with a garden gate in your sunny courtyard.
Or in this hillside development of rowhouses, overlooking the playing fields.

So where is this bucolic, idyllic suburban ideal you ask? Why it's Hässelby strand of course, the westernmost suburb on the Green Line. No silly, not THAT Green Line, it's not Oak Park. This is in the land of the planned suburb, built by city for comfortable living to alleviate massive overcrowding in the 1950's, the beginning of a golden age of prosperity and modernity in Sweden's capital Stockholm. The views overlook Mälaren, the castle and pine studded lake that Stockholm City (yes, downtown Stockholm is called "city" in Swedish) straddles the outlet of into the Baltic.

So has this suburban idyll been abandoned? Hardly, here we have Nysäter outside of Göteborg (Gothenburg) which has recently been completed with a mix of custom houses, spec houses, cooperative (there are no condominiums in Sweden) and rental apartments.
Here we have a view of the spec houses, a big difference from American suburban building. Not a lick of vinyl siding, hardi-board or fypon to be seen. No Swede would accept something with cement board siding and popcorn ceilings.
Here is a view of the for rent housing - rental housing was traditionally the dominant form in Sweden with long tenure in units, since the bulk of housing was municipally owned, rents were raised only to keep up with expenses and inflation for many years.

Obviously, these are construction views, once the landscape fills in and the gardens grow up this will become lush and bucolic.
Here we have another view with the rental housing to the right and the spec houses to the left. Mixing of ownership types, the owner occupied single-family and the for rent apartments is quite common in Sweden. Many small town Swedes will emphatically tell people that there are no bad areas in their town and nowhere of lower social status (it is considered bad form to flaunt material possessions or to show off here, as well as to have a social hierarchy), in fact, it would be unseemly to noticeably have more than one's neighbors, and it is seem as appropriate that what different social classes there are should mix comfortably.
Here we have a view of the for-sale housing. Showing parking forecourts. And another view showing the rooftop decks or terraces at the top of the buildings. Swedes are very outdoorsy, and you will be hard pressed to find a dwelling unit in Sweden without outdoor space of at least a balcony. And finally, a view of the entry to the for-sale housing. There are two units, a ground floor flat and an upper floor maisonette, which are connected into a pair forming four dwelling units total.
And a last view of the for-sale units. And if people ask me nicely, I might just do a search for the sales brochure and plans for these units.

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