In November 2020 Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning was assigned to investigate how rules can be changed so that buildings can be used more flexibly and, for example, convert offices into homes. While we in no way aim to answer these questions for the National Board, we´d like to muse on a few things.
First and foremost, we need to remember why certain buildings are used in a certain way in the first place. As we wrote in an earlier post, a building “is classified according to how it will be used; as offices, public spaces, private homes or such. Depending on which occupancy class has been prescribed, different fire protection measures are taken”.
Basically, depending on how a building is used different safety measures have to be taken. Quite obviously would an apartment complex in which people will spend 8 hours asleep have different safety demands than an office building would have. For everyone´s safety it is important that these classifications are not meddled with when looking into more flexible facilities.
Another aspect, which was brought up by Anders Holmestig, CEO of industry organisation Fastighetsägarna Sverige (Property and real estate owners in Sweden), is that this cannot be seen as a solution to the housing shortages Sweden has seen increase over the last years. Making sure people have somewhere to live takes more than this investigation.
However, looking into how we can use our city centres in a more flexible way depending on demand changes is of course a welcome suggestion. For this to be possible we need to continue to look into how we manage our data and safety information about our assets, in a long term perspective. The investigation will report to the Swedish Government (Ministry of Finance) no later than 26 February 2021. We look forward to take part of the result and to hear about further steps.
More reading (in Swedish)