Young and Unemployed
6 May, 2010

The black belt of Rosengård

Rosengård is divided in 10 districts, 3 of which are unpopulated (the industrial area, the shopping centre and the graveyard in the North). The central districts of Törnrosen, Örtagården and Herrgården, bounded on the North by Amiralsgatan and on the South by fältet (the field), hold the youngest population by percentage of residents under 24, and the highest registered unemployed between 18 and 64. Is this a coincidence, or are these two situations related?

Being young and new in a strange country can prove difficult. You often don’t understand the local “codes” (the dress code, manners, habits, do’s and dont’s, etc.), don’t know anyone to assist you in your new home (lack of networking), very often you won’t get any sympathy from the locals (especially if you live in a neighbourhood that is in the news for stoning the firepeople), and most important: many times you don’t speak the language. These situations can very often transform hope and good intentions into frustration and resentment towards the new country and its inhabitants (not to mention that being jobless is very stressing in itself, even in your own hometown).

“…a loan is better than charity as it enables people to help themselves.”

– Maimonides

Initiatives such as microcredits are a tool to young, driven people: an opportunity to make some money. The public space is the arena where many people earn the bread every day. Itinerant businesses such as magazine kiosks, hot dog stands or permanent ones like internet and online game houses can be put to work with a small credit from local governments, would eventually grow and create a few more jobs, and most importantly, provide for income and independence to its operators, while at the same time paying for themselves.

Fantoft Pizza, a microbusiness operating entirely on public space

Rosengård se divide en 10 distritos, 3 de los cuales (el centro comercial, el cementerio y la zona industrial) están deshabitados. Los distritos centrales de Törnrosen, Örtagården y Herrgården, que limitan al norte con la calle Amiralsgatan y al sur con el área verde de Rosengård, contienen la población más joven en porcentaje, y el mayor porcentaje de desempleados entre 18 y 64 años de edad. ¿Es esto una coincidencia, o están relacionadas estas dos situaciones?

Ser joven y nuevo en un país extraño puede ser difícil. A menudo, uno no entiende los códigos locales (de vestir, de comportarse, etc.), no conoce a nadie que lo asista o conecte con la vida local, la gente del país nuevo no le hace mucho caso a uno (sobre todo si se vive en un barrio que sale en las noticias porque algunos de sus residentes reciben a los bomberos a pedradas), y lo más importante: muchas veces uno no habla el idioma. Estas situaciones pueden transformar esperanza y buenas intenciones en frustración y resentimiento hacia el nuevo país y sus habitantes, por no mencionar que estar desempleado puede ser sumamente estresante, incluso en el país de donde uno viene.

“…un préstamo es mejor que la caridad porque permite a la gente ayudarse a sí misma.”

– Maimónides

Iniciativas tales como microcréditos son una herramienta para personas jóvenes y trabajadoras: ofrecen la posibilidad de ganar dinero. El espacio público es la arena donde mucha gente se gana el pan a diario. Negocios itinerantes, tales como stands de revistas o comidas rápidas, o permanentes, como internet cafés (que también son agentes de difusión de información) pueden ponerse en marcha con pequeños créditos ofrecidos por el gobierno local, podrían crecer eventualmente, crear empleos y lo más importante, ofrecer un ingreso, estabilidad e independencia a sus operadores, a la vez que se pagarían por sí mismos.

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A future with two scenarios
26 April, 2010

Social tension (already happening), increasing population (as projected by the analysis and the municipality), global warming, climate refugees and what not… The future of Rosengård appears to take a definite road. But how does community react to it?

Tensión social (nada nuevo), población en aumento, calentamiento global, refugiados climáticos y más… El futuro de Rosengård parece tomar una dirección clara. Ante esto ¿cómo reacciona la comunidad?

Scenario 1: Swedish paternalism

The opposite of abandoning can be just as bad / lo opuesto del abandono puede ser igual de perjudicial.

Scenario 2: teaching an old dog new tricks

The science of small things / La ciencia de las pequeñas cosas.

Epilogue
Scenario 2: teaching an old dog new tricks seems less immediate. It involves a smaller political involvement and economic injection, and as a stage-plan, it will take more time to unravel and show its true outcome. However, as it is a joint effort between the commune (which acts as a facilitator of technical and economic means) and the community (who act as operators and users), it reinforces the sense of self-achievement. Only by giving the tools, and not the full solution, can real progress be made.

Epílogo

El escenario 2: enseñándole nuevos trucos a un perro viejo parece menos inmediato. Requiere menor inversión económica y voluntad política. Además, al ser un plan progresivo, tardará más tiempo en mostrar su verdadero potencial. Sin embargo, al ser un esfuerzo conjunto entre la comuna (que actúa como facilitadora de recursos técnicos y económicos) y la comunidad local (que funge como operadora y usuaria), refuerza el sentido de autodeterminación. Sólo dando las herramientas (y no las soluciones terminadas) se puede lograr progreso verdadero.

Youth gang forces Malmö pre-school closure
26 April, 2010

Taken from the online journal The Local.

Published: 26 Apr 10 13:22 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/26292/20100426/

A pre-school in Malmö’s Rosengård district was shut down on Monday morning in the interests of staff safety following an extended period of threats and harassment from a gang of local youths.

Henrik Wolter, a health and safety representative for the Swedish Teachers’ Union, took the decision to close the pre-school with immediate effect following consultation with district leaders.

The 34 children who attend the Herrgården pre-school have been moved temporarily to a school in Käglinge in south-east Malmö, but district chief Eva Ahlgren expects the children to move to a new location in Rosengård on Wednesday. In the longer term, places have been set aside for the children at a pre-school affiliated with Rosengård School, which is currently being extended.

“The closure of Herrgården’s pre-school was necessary. Staff have been repeatedly exposed to fighting and harassment. On one occasion a glass bottle was thrown from a window at one of the employees,” said Ahlgren.

She added that she had not previously been aware of the problem.

The pre-school is located in an area at the centre of a housing standards scandal last year when its run-down apartment complexes were found to be riddled with mould and cockroaches.

Herrgården has also served as a flashpoint for many of the disturbances that have plagued the predominantly immigrant suburb of Rosengård in recent years.

Around the pre-school lie shards of glass while the front of the building is marked by a bullet hole, the source of which is unknown.

“This is caused by gangs of criminal youths, or idiots as I usually call them,” Andreas Konstantinides, chairman of the Rosengård district council, told the online edition of the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se/08 656 6518)

Rosengård Skolan, Herrgården

Comment / Comentario

The social landscape has many layers, which have different actors and often, different yet intertangled causes. Architecture is a one tool in a bigger panorama, and it must work together with other disciplines in order to address the situation through a wider scope. At the time of its creation, Rosengård was thought of as a one-time solution for the housing deficit in 1960’s Sweden, but as it has become visible after some time, single-minded efforts often leave a number of questions unanswered.

However, architecture must operate on different levels. Contrary to what has been said, space is not the prime matter or architecture (or at least not always). Some times we come across potential situations where people are the prime matter we have to work with and shape, and thus we as architects must address problems through a wider perspective, but also we must be humble before the magnitude of the challenges we face.

El paisaje social tiene muchas capas con distintos actores y a menudo, distintas (pero interrelacionadas) causas. La arquitectura es una herramienta en un panorama mayor, y debe trabajar en conjunto con otras disciplinas para tratar las distintas problemáticas a través de un espectro más amplio. Al momento de su creación, Rosengård fue pensado como una solución unitaria al problema de vivienda que aquejaba a Suecia en los años 60’s, pero ahora resulta evidente que las soluciones basadas en conceptos unitarios dejan muchas preguntas sin resolver.

Sin embargo, la arquitectura debe operar en distintos niveles. Contrario a lo que se ha dicho, el espacio no es la materia prima de la arquitectura (al menos no siempre). A veces nos topamos con situaciones donde la gente es la materia prima con la que debemos trabajar y que debemos encauzar. Por ende, como arquitectos debemos enfrentar los problemas con una perspectiva amplia, pero también humilde frente a la magnitud de los retos que enfrentamos.

The bless and curse of exile
11 April, 2010

Home: a place for a gap?

So, you’re a happy toddler until one day dad (or, if you’re lucky, the whole family) has to move. Sure, many people move during their lives, but what happens when you move to another country, with another language and another understanding of the world. If you’re young enough, chances are you’ll have little problem learning the language and sumberging yourself in your new country. But at the same time, your parents may experience quite the opposite: anxiety, fear, isolation… the feeling of being a fish out of water. How does exile affect close personal relations?

Being Rosengård a transition point between the outside world and the Swedish life, as an architect one has to wonder: how does space contribute to close or increase this emotional and cultural gap?

NRK: Interview with Mustafa Can (in Swedish and Norwegian)

_______

Así que usted es un niño con una infancia feliz, hasta que un día papá (o si tiene suerte, toda la familia) se tiene que cambiar de casa. Claro, mucha gente se cambia de casa durante su vida, pero ¿qué sucede cuando uno se va a vivir a otro país donde se habla otro idioma, y se entiende el mundo de forma diferente? Si usted es lo suficientemente joven, probablemente tendrá mínimas dificultades aprendiendo el idioma y sumergiéndose en su nuevo país. Pero al mismo tiempo, a sus padres les sucede lo opuesto: ansiedad, miedo, aislamiento… y todo lo que acompaña a la persona fuera de su contexto. ¿Cómo afecta el exilio a las relaciones personales?

Siendo Rosengård un punto de transición entre el mundo exterior y la vida en Suecia, como arquitecto me pregunto: ¿cómo contribuye el espacio a cerrar o aumentar esa brecha emocional y cultural?

NRK: entrevista con Mustafa Can (en sueco y noruego)

Pecha Kucha Rosengård
22 March, 2010


20 images for what it’s worth.
20 imágenes que valen más que una hablada.

Living in Rosengård: the potential of public spaces in liminal communities
22 March, 2010

Roberto Ovalle – Social Anthropology essay

This is the theory behind my project. Basically, I state that the current configuration of the public space in Rosengård has 5 consequences:

1. It weakens the social experience. A poorly designed public space transfers its functions to other contexts, such as sport clubs or mosques, restricting or cancelling potential social experiences.

Where have all the folks gone?


2. It rationalizes randomnes. One notorious characteristic of the public space is that it gives its users the chance to get in touch and meet random people. When this is lost, mistrust to strangers builds up.
3. It affects the way people experience their community. When people love their neighborhood, they will be more prone to take care of it.
4. Restricting self expression. A non-inclusive public space such as the one present in most of Rosengård, leaves out many of its inhabitants and their lifestyles, experiences and ways of expression. It is non-democratic.
5. It affects the group experience. It is in public places that a community will display support, opposition, diversity, opinions, etc. Additionally, it is in public areas that many activities become validated and legitimate, such as busking, preaching, skateboarding, etc. The public space in every community holds the potential of being a place for social self-definition and discovery.

Esta es la base teórica de mi proyecto. Básicamente, la configuración actual del espacio público en Rosengård tiene 5 consecuencias:

1. Debilitar la experiencia social. Un espacio público mal diseñado transfiere sus funciones a otros contextos, tales como clubes deportivos o mezquitas, restringiendo o cancelando la posibilidad de experiencias sociales más ricas.
2. Racionalizar la aleatoriedad. El espacio público se caracteriza por ofrecer la posibilidad de conocer gente de forma aleatoria. Cuando esta posibilidad se pierde, aumenta la desconfianza hacia los extraños.
3. Se afecta la forma en que se percibe la comunidad. Cuando la gente quiere a su barrio, probablemente lo cuidarán más.

Home, sweet home?

Home, sweet home?


4. Se restringe la expresión individual. Un espacio público no inclusivo, tal como lo es en Rosengård, deja por fuera a muchos residentes y sus estilos de vida, experiencias y formas de expresión. Espacios como este no son democráticos.
5. La experiencia grupal se ve afectada. Es en los sitios públicos donde la comunidad mostrará su apoyo, oposición, diversidad, opiniones, etc. Adicionalmente, en el espacio público se validan muchas actividades que en otros sitios no son legítimas, tales como los artistas callejeros, predicadores, patinadores, etc. El espacio público en cada comunidad tiene el potencial de ser un sitio para el autodescubrimiento y autodefinición.

Of course, if you don’t wanna read the 12-page essay, you can read the one page summary: / Si no quiere leer las 12 páginas del ensayo, puede leer el resumen de una página:
2010.03.03 SA Summary