Opportunity Space

Europe’s migration crisis has intensified the need for cities to develop new tools and strategies to help people build skills, earn a living, and establish their place in society. To address this challenge, New York-based design nonprofit Van Alen Institute has launched Opportunity Space, a competition inviting multidisciplinary teams to propose a temporary mobile structure in Malmö, Sweden that will support a wide range of social programs.

The winning team will receive a $10,000 prize, a $5,000 travel budget, and up to $25,000 to implement their proposal in and around Malmö’s Enskifteshagen Park for two months in spring 2017.

Opportunity Space is 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 in cities around the world to take on urgent societal challenges through design. 

“Van Alen Institute Flash Competitions will demonstrate that design can make an immediate impact in the real world. We’re excited that our first Flash Competition, and our first competition that will result in a built project outside of the U.S., can engage local partners in Sweden to realize innovative ideas,” said Van Alen Institute Executive Director David van der Leer.

Opportunity Space situates the needs of Malmö’s refugees and asylum seekers (or “new arrivals”) within the larger goal of creating a more inclusive economy and communities for everyone. The mobile structure will make vital services more accessible and visible to people who need them, and will create a new meeting area to benefit both new and established residents.

Malmö is the ideal city to explore these issues. It is a gateway city to Scandinavia, and is rapidly growing and diversifying. It was also the arrival city for the vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers settling in Sweden – up to 10,000 a week at its peak in autumn 2015.

As in many cities, Malmö’s residents face challenges finding work in today’s global economy. Analysts estimate that the average age at which Swedish residents find their first “real” job (for instance, one that would allow them to qualify for a mortgage) is 29, and that it takes new arrivals up to seven years before they are gainfully employed.

Working closely with dozens of key stakeholders, Van Alen Institute has assembled a unique, cross-sector stakeholder coalition, including the City of Malmö, leading design firm White Arkitekter, Skanska (which will donate skilled laborers to construct the winning proposal), Architects Sweden, and the nonprofit social service organization Individuell Manskihop.

Van Alen has already engaged a broad range of program providers, from the Malmö division of the Swedish Employment Servies (a federal job assistance agency) to community colleges and some of the city’s biggest soccer clubs. Van Alen imagines the mobile center could be a place where a local employer interviews young people from the area who never finished high school, a new arrival takes a Swedish language class, and an established resident samples food cooked by a neighbor who has just immigrated from Syria and wants to open a restaurant.

“We think design can foster greater social and economic equity, and give cities tools to help people find opportunity,” said Van der Leer. “We’re excited to launch this pilot in Malmö, and see how its strategies could also be applied to other cities facing similar challenges.”

This competition was submitted by an ArchDaily user. If you'd like to submit a competition, call for submissions or other architectural 'opportunity' please use our "Submit a Competition" form. The views expressed in announcements submitted by ArchDaily users do not necessarily reflect the views of ArchDaily.

Cite: "Opportunity Space" 19 Oct 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/797635/opportunity-space> ISSN 0719-8884

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