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Design Team


The Folkets House (or “People’s House”) team has won the Opportunity Space international design competition to support social and economic inclusion in Malmö, Sweden.

The competition called for a temporary structure in Malmö’s Enskifteshagen Park that could house programs to help refugees and long-time residents meet others, learn skills, and find jobs. Nearly 300 teams from 45 countries pre-registered for Opportunity Space, which was the first in a new Van Alen Institute series of Flash Competitions: challenges that bring together multidisciplinary teams of designers and other experts for short, intense projects to take on urgent societal issues through design in cities around the world.

Folkets House” refers to Swedish labor union buildings that originated in the 19th century as venues for public meetings and cultural activities. Drawing inspiration from these open, democratic spaces, the winning team proposed an iconic prototype for temporarily activating public space to address the challenges and opportunities of 21st century cities.

The winning team includes Rik Ekström, ARExA (New York, NY); Gustav Fagerström, Walter P Moore (New York, NY); Milad Barosen, Milou Group (Stockholm, Sweden); and Nathan King, Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design, Center for Design Research (Blacksburg, VA). The team will now refine its initial conceptual design to implement the project; Skanska Öresund is donating the labor to install it.

image credit: Operating System team

The team proposed a flexible, modular system that could be configured in literally hundreds of ways to support a wide range of social encounters and programs. The project’s three modules are each designed to host a different category of use – commercial activity, knowledge exchange, or meeting and networking with others.

image credit: Operating System team

The modules can then be assembled to create spaces for performances, job interviews, pop-up restaurants, and many other activities.

Team: Henry Stephens, architect, Copenhagen; Hannes Frykholm, architect (SAR/MSA) and PhD Researcher at KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm; Nick Roberts, architect, Amsterdam.

image credit: Circle of Friends team

Echoing traditional forms of Swedish performance spaces and park festival structures, the team proposed a series of easily transportable modules that can support a full range of exchanges – from one-on-one job interviews to large gatherings.

image credit: Circle of Friends team

When arrayed as a circle, the project defines a meeting area with a sense of enclosure that is at the same time open to anyone to enter. The project’s forms, materials, and modular construction are informed by the team members’ backgrounds in architecture and set design.

Team: Ethem Erdogan, architect (SAR/MSA); Elias Lindhoff, architect (SAR/MSA); Anders Hellström, set designer and artist. All three are based in Stockholm.


From August 22 to September 2, 2017, the pavilion will house the Opportunity Space Festival, which will offer daily programs in five categories: jobs and entrepreneurship; arts and culture; food; recreation; and democracy and human rights. More than 25 city agencies, companies, and NGOs in Malmö will participate, including Good Malmö, Individuell Människohjälp, Arbetsförmedlingen, Folkuniversitetet, and many other partners. A Festival Preview event will take place in Malmö on Tuesday, May 30.

To propose a program during the festival, please fill out the online Program Form.

To learn more about the festival, please contact Aida Al Akrawi, or Jerome Chou,


More than a million migrants entered Europe in 2015, highlighting one of the toughest challenges that cities around the world will face for decades to come: In an era of great uncertainty, how and where can people find opportunity?

Malmö is an ideal place to explore this question. Malmö is a gateway city to Scandinavia, and is rapidly growing and diversifying. It was also the point of arrival for the vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers (or “new arrivals”) settling in Sweden – up to 10,000 a week in 2015.

Analysts estimate that the average age at which people in Sweden find their first “real” job (one that allows them to qualify for a mortgage, for example) is 29, and that it takes new arrivals up to seven years before they are gainfully employed.


The competition included two sites: a portion of open lawn along the southwest edge of Enskifteshagen Park, and inside a one-story warehouse building in the Sofielunds industrial area directly to the south of the park.

The park site offers great visibility within a well-used public park; the building will provide a heated, flexible, indoor space on days when it’s too cold or stormy for outdoor programs. Both the industrial area and the park are home to an extremely diverse range of users and uses.

The park site looking south towards the industrial area.
Playgrounds along the northern edge of the park.
MKB building, looking west just inside the entry.
MKB building, looking north just inside the entry.
Looking north from outside the MKB building to the park.

Agneta Salhead Canneroth, Head of Planning Unit, City of Malmö Departmenr of Streets and Parks

Aså Kalée, Good Malmö

Gunilla Kronvall, Chair, Architects Sweden Skåne; Atelier 01 arkitektur

Christer Larsson, Director, City of Malmö Planning Office

Helene Rahm, Head of Skåne Department, Individuell Människohjälp

Sara McDonald, Head of New Production, MKB

Monica von Schmalensee, CEO, White Arkitekter

Ingebørg Skaare, Senior Architect, Snøhetta

Marta Stenevi, City of Malmö Deputy Mayor; Chair, City Planning Committee

David van der Leer, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute; Jury Chair

Siamak Afshari, Folkuniversitet
Hans Andersson, Wihlborgs
Fadi Barakat, Manpower
Niels de Bruin, White
Anna-Karin Bergman, City of Malmö, Jobb Malmö
Thomas Brunk, City of Malmö, City Planning Office
Jerome Chou, Van Alen Institute
Carl-Gustaf Fritz, JM
Sverker Haraldsson, City of Malmö, Streets and Parks
Thomas Johnsson, E.ON
Åsa Kalée, Good Malmö
Gunilla Kronvall, Architects Sweden
Pia Hellberg Lannerheim, City of Malmö, Trade and Industry
Christer Larsson, City of Malmö, City Planning Office
Akbarnazim Modan and Anna Wachtmeister, Meshworks
Anna Nambord, Wihlborgs
Martin Nihlgård, Individuell Människohjälp
Louise Palm, NCC
Nihal Ragab, Individuell Människohjälp
Micke Rickman, Kulturhus Framtiden
Anders Tojkander, NCC
Charlotte Wadström, MKB
Rebecca Wennberg, designer
Camilla Wieslander, Skanska Öresund

About Van Alen Institute

At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.

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About the City of Malmö

Malmö, Sweden is the commercial center of southern Sweden and an international city with 300,000 residents from approximately 170 different nationalities.

Malmö is undergoing a transition from being an industrial city to a city of knowledge. Older industries have been replaced by investments in new technology, training programs, and infrastructure – including the Öresund Bridge, which connects Malmö to Copenhagen. Malmö University, which opened in 1998, is Sweden’s latest venture in the field of higher education, accommodating some 24,000 students.

Over the last years the City of Malmö has received many international awards for its focus on sustainable city development and pilot projects such as Augustenborg and the Western Harbour. Malmö was also appointed as the first Fairtrade City of Sweden.

About White Arkitekter

White Arkitekter was founded by Sidney White in 1951 and is Scandinavia’s leading architectural firm with over 900 employees working in 16 offices in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK. Our work is research focused and our expertise encompasses architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and interior design.

For nearly two decades, White has invested in establishing a unique research-based department of highly qualified experts in the field of sustainable design. Our founder’s aim was to improve society through architecture and his legacy lives on in our ambition to contribute towards the building of a sustainable world.

About Skanska

Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups with expertise in construction, development of commercial and residential premises, and public-private partnerships projects. Based on its global experience, Skanska aims to be the clients’ first choice for Green solutions. The Group currently has 43,100 employees in selected home markets in Europe and North America. Skanska’s sales in 2015 totaled SEK 155 billion.

About Individuell Människohjälp (IM)

IM is a Swedish member-based organization fighting and exposing poverty and exclusion through development cooperation, integration and Fair Trade. Founded in 1938, IM is currently working in five regions and thirteen countries worldwide.

IM’s international work focuses on people´s right to education, good health and ability to sustain a life in dignity. All projects are implemented in close collaboration with local partner organizations. IMs work in Sweden is focusing on integration and inclusion into society. The strengthening of civil society is both a means and an objective in all activities.

About Architects Sweden

Architects Sweden is the professional organization for architects, interior architects, landscape architects and spatial planners in Sweden with 12 800 members, including 2,600 students.

About ARExA

ARExA is a multi-disciplinary research and design practice based in New York City that is dedicated to advancing the understanding and implementation of the built environment. ARExA’s current focus is on innovative urban housing solutions and grant-funded sustainable food systems research.

About WPM

Walter P Moore is an international company of engineers, architects, innovators, and creative people who solve some of the world’s most complex structural and infrastructure challenges. Across 15 offices, this 600-strong firm of 85 years, and focuses on high performance building enclosures and specialty structural systems.

About Milou Group

Milou Group is an innovation-driven company that explores design, creative technology, and entrepreneurship. Through an international collaboration and support from the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise & Innovation, Milou Group develops new concepts and solutions that rethink living and working in cities, meeting the demand of the global audience in the new economy.

About Virginia Tech A+D, Center for Design Research

The Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design (VT-CDR) links the academy, industry, and design practice by creating opportunities for collaboration through applied research; establishes corporate partnerships and sponsorships within the prospectus of design research; expands capacity by building relationships within the design professions and affiliated industries; initiates collaborative research projects within and beyond the boundaries of the university; and strengthens all areas of research through cross-disciplinary team building, and the integration of teaching and research. The work of the CDR and its participants expands the scope of design and embraces collaboration across many scales and disciplines with the goal of technological innovation and paradigm shifts that enable more with less in ways that have the potential to expand the research of design/designers to influence systemic global impact.