General Article ‘It’s like family’: the Swedish housing experiment designed to cure loneliness

Topic Selected: Ageing Book Volume: 378

A radical new scheme offers homes to different ages and backgrounds – and insists that they (safely) mingle.

By Derek Robertson

Erik Ahlsten is unequivocal. ‘This is the best accommodation I’ve ever had.’ His friend and neighbour Manfred Bacharach is equally enthusiastic. ‘I really like this way of living,’ he says. ‘It’s very much my cup of tea.’

The two are referring to their new home, Sällbo, a radical experiment in multigenerational living in Helsingborg, a small port city in southern Sweden. Its name is a portmanteau of the Swedish words for companionship (sällskap) and living (bo), and neatly encapsulates the project’s goals – to combat loneliness and promote social cohesion by giving residents incentives, and the spaces, for productive interaction.

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