The Digitalisation of Swedish Housing

The First Forty Years


  • Fredrik Torisson Malmö University



So called ‘smart’ built environments operate in a peculiar temporal nexus: they are simultaneously just around the corner, already here, and yesterday’s news. This is usually put down to hype and hyperbole, but it may well be argued that smart built environments do indeed exist across temporal dimensions – only not in the way we imagine them to.

Instead of speaking of a digital turn in housing, we would be better served by employing the plural: digital turns. In fact, once we begin to unravel the history of how the idea of what we today call smart technology has been implemented in multi-household rental dwellings since the early 1980s, a pattern emerges.

The article charts how landlords and others have placed smart devices that monitor, encourage or discipline tenants to behave in certain ways. This is a parallel story to the dream of a leisure-centred technology-enabled house of the future. This parallel story is darker and centres on the transformation of the dwelling through its digitalisation.


This article has been written within the framework of the project 'A Critical Exploration of Smart Housing from an Intersectional Perspective' funded by Formas (2018–00050).

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