Strangers at home: A study of how volunteer housing support for asylum seekers in Sweden is reshaping domestic architecture.  

This architectural research project examines the interconnection between Swedish non-institutionalized housing provision for asylum seekers and everyday domestic practices. Though barely investigated, these emergent housing modalities bridge a gap in the provision of accommodation for adolescents facing relocation orders to other municipalities. Since 2015, volunteer homes in northern Sweden multiplied and underwent major architectural transformations to provide these youths with stable housing. The spatial transformations in the affected dwellings push the limits of architectural design and raise critical questions about the resilience of current Swedish housing design recommendations for the construction of ‘the Swedish home’.

By translating spatial, material and social surveys into a 1:1 domestic prototype, the project contributes unprecedented analysis of the implications domestic space has on everyday life, shows how housing design relates to societal circumstances, and provides an interdisciplinary framework to revise the design and regulation of domestic space.

The UmArts Displacement working group meets regularly to bring together researchers from different disciplines exploring the relationships between host and guest in relation to migration and displacement in the north of Sweden.  In 2022 the ‘Moving North’ project was awarded a New European Bauhaus / ArkDes Vision I Norr fund for developing proposals to increase social integration in the city by exploring forms of reciprocity between migrants, refugees and host communities. 

Moving North was a cross-sectoral team consisting of an artist, a curator, architects, a cultural geographer, architecture students and the organization Hej Framling. Based on a strong foothold in northern Sweden and with experience of both collaboration and participant-based methods in places with increased migration and relocation, Moving North critically explored how different placemaking processes can promote social participation and social sustainability. Their findings are recorded in the short film ‘Folketstad: A city of many parts’ 17:40 which address the challenges of restrictive migration and labour laws on people’s well-being at a time when the North is rapidly expanding and recruiting a new workforce.

The Moving North group will present their research at the Transformations 22 Conference ‘Artistic Research in a Time of Change’ at Vetenskapens hus, Luleå University of Technology, 17-18 November 2022.

The Embroidery Reading and Stitching Group will gather in the new UmArts building in spring 2023, bringing together researchers interested in the relationship between stitching and reading. The embroidery group was initiated by Lena Liljemark and Emma Ewadotter in 2021.