Van Alen Institute recently launched Opportunity Space, an international design-build competition to support economic opportunity and social inclusion in Malmö, Sweden.
Opportunity Space invites international, multidisciplinary teams of designers, economic development experts, sociologists, community organizers, and others to submit their ideas. Focusing on two sites – a well-used public park and an underused industrial building – in a rapidly changing district of Malmö, teams will have roughly five weeks to propose their interventions.
Responding to Europe’s migration crisis, Opportunity Space will install a temporary mobile structure in Malmö’s Enskifteshagen Park for two months to support education, job assistance, and social inclusion programs offered by government, business, and nonprofit partners. The winning team, to be announced in early December, will receive a $10,000 award and $25,000 to build their proposal.
Opportunity Space is the first in a new Van Alen Institute series of Flash Competitions: challenges that bring together multidisciplinary teams of designers and other experts for short, intense projects in cities around the world to take on urgent societal issues through design. Teams can find the competition brief and pre-register by November 7, 2016 on the project website. The competition deadline is November 18, 2016.
Opportunity Space will make vital services more visible and accessible to people who need them, and will bring new and established residents together. The project will establish a replicable process for engaging diverse stakeholders across sectors and disciplines to design more economically and socially inclusive neighborhoods and cities.
Malmö is the ideal city to explore these issues. It is a gateway city to Scandinavia, and is rapidly growing and diversifying. It was also the arrival city for the vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers settling in Sweden – up to 10,000 a week at its peak in autumn 2015.  As in many cities, Malmö’s residents face challenges finding work in today’s global economy. Analysts estimate that the average age at which Swedish residents find their first “real” job (for instance, one that would allow them to qualify for a mortgage) is 29, and that it takes new arrivals up to seven years before they are gainfully employed. 
Working closely with dozens of key stakeholders, Van Alen Institute has assembled a unique, cross-sector coalition of government, design, real estate, nonprofit, and community leaders to explore how the built environment can foster greater social and economic equity.
“Van Alen Institute Flash Competitions will demonstrate that design can make an immediate impact in the real world. We’re excited that our first Flash Competition, and our first competition that will result in a built project outside of the U.S., can engage local partners in Sweden to realize innovative ideas,” said Van Alen Institute Executive Director David van der Leer.
“White Arkitekter knows Malmö well and we know that there is both talent and conditions to create a project that contributes to a city where everyone can thrive. I’m convinced that Malmö will inspire other cities around the world,” said Monica von Schmalansee, White Arkitekter CEO.
 James Traub, “The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth,” Foreign Policy, February 10, 2016
 SCB (Statistics Sweden); the etableringsålder (“age of establishment”) is a statistic used in Sweden to track the age at which 75% of residents are gainfully employed; the statistic on new arrivals is also based on a benchmark
of 75% of the immigrant population finding gainful employment.
WLA is not involved with the design competition. Please address all questions to the organisers via the Opportunity Space competition website