Färdknäppen – a different kind of house

 

Färdknäppen is a house for people who have reached ”the second part of life”.

In other words it is

not a house exclusively for elderly

not an “ordinary” collective house


But then – what is it?


Färdknäppen is an apartment house, owned by a municipal housing company, located on the island Södermalm in Stockholm.

We who live here co-create a community in our daily lives together, which makes life easier and more fun when the “togetherness” of family life and working life diminishes as we grow older.

•We cook in groups that prepare shared meals on weekdays

•We take care of our house and garden ourselves

•We learn from one another while carrying out our daily chores

We can help each other keep our spirits up if – or when – our strength diminishes.

How large is the house, how large are the apartments?

The house has 43 apartments comprising 1, 2 or 3 rooms each (plus a fully equipped kitchen) measuring between 37 to 75 square meters, plus ca. 400 square meters of common areas.


Most of the common space is located in the ground floor. The area is flexibly planned for a diversity of needs: a library with TV and a computer, a separate room with a computer, a weaving room, laundry room, common dining room and kitchen, and a room for woodwork. A garden with trees, flowers and lawn belongs to the house and is reached from the dining room.


On the top floor of the house, there is an all-purpose room with a fireplace and an adjoining open-air roof garden.


There is a fully equipped recycling area at the ground floor, where the tenants can dispose of all materials (except hazardous waste) glass, paper, furniture, electronics, batteries, light bulbs, fluorescent light, plastic, wood. We also have a shelf where we give away things we do not need anymore,  but that might be of use to others.All refundable bottles are communally collected and the money is donated to charities.


The basement includes individual storage rooms and our collective pantry/food storage rooms plus a recreational/exercising room and a sauna.


We have a small office which can be used by everyone, equipped with a computer, scanner, copying machine and office supplies etc. There are also three small guest rooms available at a very low cost to out-of-town guests.


In other words, everyone living in the house has – for the price of an average sized apartment – access to a home of ca 400 square meters!


The common area is part of everyone’s home and the entrance door to this home is the main entrance to Färdknäppen from the street. We all feel at home inside this door and in all parts of the house.


For whom is this house planned?

You can move into Färdknäppen when your needs are no longer dictated by family and children. To be eligible for moving in, you must be 40 years old or older and no longer have children living at home. And you should embrace the idea of co-housing in “the second half of life”. You have to become a member of the Färdknäppen association first. The association now (2011-02) has about 50 members living at Färdknäppen and 70 members living outside of Färdknäppen. 

When an apartment is available, it is first offered to the people already living at Färdknäppen, and after that to the external association members. The board of the association has interviews with those who apply to move in, and then gives a recommendation to the housing company, which then signs the lease with the new tenants. The Färdknäppen association has a policy stating that couples are prioritized for the 3-room flats.


It is important that the people living at Färdknäppen are of various ages. Ideally, about half of the residents would still be working and the other half retired.  So far, this has been the case. Those who are still actively working bring fresh impulses to the house and receive, in return, service by the pensioners who have more time to spend preparing meals and caring for the house.


Everyone who lives in the house must, every sixth week, take part in a cooking group and in a cleaning group. This doesn’t mean, though, that everyone must be a good cook or that everyone must do exactly as much as everyone else. “From each according to their ability” as it’s stated in the rules of the Färdknäppen association.


Why live in this way? 

The advantages of living at Färdknäppen are many and of course differ for every individual. How much social contact and “togetherness” one desirers varies, from person to person and from one period in life to another.


Apart from getting many social contacts, living at Färdknäppen also involves substantial practical and economic advantages. The communal meals save both time and work for the individual, and also are much less expensive than meals prepared in single households. The foodstuff cost is ca. 250 000 SeK per year, and is paid for by those who come to the meals through a coupon system. The coupon price covers the costs of the foodstuffs which to a large extent are bought at wholesale prices and delivered to the door. Kitchen utensils, cutlery and cleaning materials etc. are paid for through the association’s budget.

Food leftovers are composted in the garden and used as fertiliser for the plants.


At Färdknäppen we don’t need to buy and pay for (and neither use space for) a private washing machine, ironing board, sewing machine, weaving loom, computer, broadband, TV, daily newspaper etc. in our apartments, since it is all available in the common area. Acess to a carpentry room and tools, make repairs and maintenance possible which otherwise would have to be done by professionals.


Even though most of the apartments are relatively small, it is possible to entertain guests and to arrange parties here. The house is not off-limits for children. Children and grandchildren are frequent guests in the house. Often grandparents take care of their grandchildren in order to give parents a break. It is easy to activate and to amuse children at Färdknäppen.


We who live in Färdknäppen, about 50 persons from 43 to 97 years old, have a wealth of experience and knowledge after a long life and we can share this with each other. One learns something new every day at Färdknäppen, because the community is rich in both material and human resources.


Planning, preparing and sharing the main meal of the day, five days a week, is the main activity around which many other activities originate and develop. Eating in the dining room is voluntary, not every one eats there every day! We arrange many social activities together, such as lectures, musical evenings, pub evenings, going to the theatre, films or exhibitions,  outings to go bird watching etc. etc.,  – all depending upon the initiatives and interests of the members.


Of course this form of life is also not always easy – it can bring about conflicts as well, but even conflicts can be enriching and we learn every day more about how to solve them.


How did Färdknäppen originate?

The initiative to create Färdknäppen was taken by a number of middle-aged people, who were concerned about their future and what their living conditions would be as they grew older. They formulated two questions:

-How can middle-aged and elderly people help each other acquire more social contact, have a better quality of life and be less dependent on municipal service through living closer to each other in a suitable environment?

-How should an apartment house be designed in order to encourage middle-aged people to leave “the empty nest” when children have moved out, so that the large apartment again can be used by other families with children?


The answers are embedded in Färdknäppen of today. But the route to the completion of the house was long. The association was established in 1987, and for two years we discussed our ideas, searched for possible projects, and called on politicians and other decision makers.


In 1989 the municipally owned housing company, Familjebostäder, offered to build a house for us on the site at Södra Station, and we began an intensive dialog with architects, project supervisors and builders concerning the planning, the interior decoration and appliances for the future house.

The co-operation with Familjebostäder has resulted in a house which closely corresponds to our original vision. The house functions well in our daily lives.


Familjebostäder has later, after seeing that many people wish to live in this way, built three more houses in the Stockholm area, all based on the “Färdknäppen model”. 


Financing

All tenants pay rent for the space of their apartment plus for a portion of the shared common areas (measured in proportion to the size of the individual apartments). This means that the association and its members have entire disposal of the house. The housing company include in the rent costs for maintenance, reparation and exchange of amenities such as the washing machines, dishwashers, stoves, fridges, freezers etc.
The tenants look after the house by cleaning (stairwells, landings, and all common areas, including the kitchen) as well as simple maintenance (changing light bulbs, looking after the recycling area etc.). The tenants also tend for the garden. The housing company then refunds the association for this work, and also, a refund or a raise in rent depending on the amount of water and heating used within the house.
The members pay a yearly membership fee, and some activities (receiving study groups, having “open house” with coffee and cakes etc.) also generate income. The total budget for the Färdknäppen association is ca. 140 000 SeK. (2011-02)


Sustainable development

The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability.

Our experience through living at Färdknäppen is that:

Sociopolitically

-People can have a high quality of life even at old age and maintain a high degree of autonomy without having to strain family relationships or be totally dependant on municipal care.

-To be appreciated, needed and contribute to and be a part of a social community are basic human needs that support good health and wellbeing.

-The network provided by the association’s membership creates possibilities beyond the reach of each individual.

Environmentally

-Less energy is needed and spent when people share amenities and services

-Less energy is spent when meals are prepared collectively

-Less waste of food when leftovers are taken care of

-Less packaging waste (paper, plastic, glass, metal) when dinner is made communally than if every single household makes food at home

-Less paper waste when 43 households share newspaper subscriptions.

Economically

-When people share amenities and provide services and cultural activities for each other, it is easier for the individual to get by on a tight budget

-Food is cheaper when an association can buy at wholesale prices

-The society in general has lesser and fewer expenses for social services when elderly people are empowered and supported in their daily lives through a housing system such as Färdknäppen

-The housing company has a well kept house at a minimum maintenance cost – there is no vandalizing of any kind at Färdknäppen. Experiences from other co-housing projects for people of all ages show that the tenants look after “their” house better than “regular” tenants do in other rent-controlled houses.


If you want to know more about Färdknäppen or want to visit us to study the house, please contact


Kollektivhusföreningen Färdknäppen

Fatbursgatan 29 A

S-118 54 Stockholm

telephone +46 8 668 95 85

www.fardknappen.se

monica.wo@spray.se

or


AB Familjebostäder

Box 49103

S-100 28 Stockholm

tel +46 8 737 20 00

fax +46 8 737 21 38

familjebostader@familjebostader.com

The ground floor of Färdknäppen includes a large entrance area (1), a common kitchen (2), dining room (3), living room with library, internet PC and sewing corner (4), weaving room (5), laundry room (6) and a hobby/carpentry room (7).

Gardening together May 2013. A new shed for bicykles is under construction.

A film team from Cologne at work in Färdknäppen May 2013.

2013-10-16