Million Programme

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Rebuilt Million Programme homes in Rinkeby (2009)

The Million Programme (Swedish: Miljonprogrammet) is the common name for an ambitious public housing programme implemented in Sweden between 1965 and 1974 by the governing Swedish Social Democratic Party to make sure everyone could have a home at a reasonable price. The aim was to construct a million new dwellings (hence the project's name) during the programme's ten-year period. At the time, the Million Programme was the most ambitious building programme in the world—to build one million new homes in a nation with a population of eight million. At the same time, a large proportion of the older unmodernised housing stock was demolished.

The housing shortage in Sweden before the start of the programme was a major political and social issue in Sweden. Between 1860 and 1960, Sweden had transformed from an agrarian nation to a highly industrialized nation, which led to a large urbanization trend. The population in the countryside moved in large numbers to towns after 1945. This urbanization following World War II was also encouraged by the authorities and governing establishment. After the war, as Swedish industry was unharmed, cities needed workers to produce the amount of goods demanded by the rest of war-destroyed Europe. The major cities of Sweden had in many cases had their last building boom in the late-19th century and were, by 1950, much too small to accommodate the rural population then flooding into the cities.

The increasing standard of living led to demands to dramatically decrease the population density and to abolish the old Lort-Sverige (Dirt Sweden). This was made possible because of the outstanding growth Sweden had during the record years (rekordåren) in the 1950s and 1960s which led to a flood of income to the national treasury. This money was used to implement social reforms but in large numbers and they were used to support the building sector. The social democratic government pushed through a number of unpopular reforms to ensure the availability of land such as new land acquisition rules and the right of local authorities to buy land by force, as long as the landowner was planning to sell it to a private buyer. Another new law said that a municipality could build homes outside its border ("Lex Bollmora"), a violation of the principle that municipality tax money stays inside the municipality. Then countryside municipalities like Tyresö near Stockholm could not afford building so many homes.

In the end, about 1,006,000 new dwellings were built using the public-private partnership model. For the houses designed for the lowest-income group, the government would bear 66% of the initial costs and this would be repaid by the customers and residents in a 30-year period. For other categories such as students and blue collar workers and immigrants, the Government provided huge subsidies and incentives to building companies in order to start construction. The net result was an increase in Sweden’s housing stock of 650,000 new apartments and houses, with a general rise in quality,[1] though arguably at the expense of aesthetics. The programme was financed partly through property tax, which later is allocated for general purposes, and can't finance needed new residential areas.


The new Million Programme residential areas were greatly inspired by early suburban neighbourhoods such as Vällingby and Årsta. One of the main aims behind the planning of these residential areas was to create "good democratic citizens". The means of achieving this were to build at high quality with a good range of services including schools, nurseries, churches, public spaces, libraries, and meeting places for different groups of households. A principal aim, although ultimately unsuccessful, was to mix and integrate different groups of households through the spatial mixing of tenures. Most of the apartments were of the "standard three room apartment" type (Swedish: normaltrea) of 75 m², planned for a model family of two adults and two children. The second type of apartments were the "student blocks" or "student suburbs" that were planned and built in the cities having large universities, like Stockholm, Lund, Uppsala, Linköping and Umea. Almost 150,000 new "student apartments" were built in specially designated "student suburbs" in order to meet the needs of the rapidly increasing university student population. These student apartments were usually 1-bedroom 1-bathroom and common kitchen type dorms that were clustered together in a large suburb or neighborhood. The ownership of the apartments were leased out to "housing companies" like Heimstaden AB who rented it out at below market rates, the rents being massively subsidized by the government.

A common misconception of the Million Programme is that most (or all) of the residentials are tower blocks of concrete. In fact, the majority of the housing stock consists of apartment buildings with three or fewer floors, terraced houses ("low houses") and one-family houses.


Million Programme districts[edit]

The suburb Tensta in northwestern Stockholm
House in Hammarkullen (Angered), northeast Gothenburg

Well known Million Programme districts include:

See also[edit]