This paper is about three residential areas – Norrby, Nyfors and Öster (in Borås, Eskilstuna and Gävle) – who undergone redevelopment during the 1960-70th. Focus is on similarities – before, during and after conversion – between these central situated ‘problem areas’ with criminality, unemployment, immigrants, vacant apartments and high moving about.
During the 1800th the industrialism put pressure on the cities. The population expanded dramatically. Housing shortage and confined living wore ordinary. Labours settled down were there where (misery) vacancies or build houses at empty lots (outside the city boundary). These areas were – from the city centre perspective – on the other side of physical barriers, as a watercourse or a railway (with the station on the ‘elegant’ side). The wild settlements became a problem in these ‘close distant’ areas. They had to be regulated, both physical and social. The modernisation process culminated in 1960-70th with the large-scale ‘Million program’ with apartments between 1965-74. Afterward the constructions for underprivileged people were sparse, simultaneous as the national planning ideals were reassessed.
The redevelopment process started in the city centre to manage ‘out-of-date’ cities and to prevent pheriper settings. The values of the old buildings were high at the beginning, so – in addition to ideas of redevelopment – building bans were implemented. The slum process started to begin in these low status places on the margin, with deficient sanitary resources and sometimes-doubtful (unmoral) inhabitants. City plans were decided late or during the process of redevelopment. Also the amount of houses or apartments became several than planned. The physical decontamination of (flammable) board houses up to 2,5 stores resulted in concrete or brick buildings of 2-8 stores and more apartments and inhabitants than before. The content and atmosphere changed. Public management replaced private housing. To a higher rent, people got more living space, yet the areas became denser. Losses of street space and a surplus of pedestrian streets came up. The areas became both spatial included between increased traffic routes, and spatial excluded from the cities behind these barriers (with unsafe passages as pedestrian tunnels or brown field area). Even the architecture separated them from the rest of the cities. In addition to these new labour dwellings the industries also moved away from their central locations (or closed down alternatively started producing abroad).
The tip of modernity became the drawbacks of modern society. The media critique was mighty when these suburbs came into city centre. Indeed home interior and standard became higher than before, but the life in the surroundings was not sufficient e.g. unfavourable childhood environment and scarcity of meeting place. The physical renewal did not change the social substance, not even the imagined sphere. Media – knowledge organisation in the local society – reported social and material problems with stigmatisation as results. Action groups organised to treat the unfavourable identity. The areas demand resources. Once again they became ‘denser’, this time with public authority. Democratisation process was implemented to prevent inappropriate lifestyles and to rise the low election participation in these central sites. Over time these ‘working class’ areas has been looked upon as problematic, as well as physically, socially and imagined. A long time to come?