Opportunity Space

Opportunity Space is an international design-build competition challenging multidisciplinary teams to propose a temporary, mobile structure that will support economic opportunity and social inclusion in Malmö, Sweden. The winning team will receive a $10,000 prize, a travel stipend, and up to $25,000 to implement a prototype of its proposal in and around Malmö’s Enskifteshagen Park.


temporary receiving area for new arrivals set up near Malmö Central Station
photo: Johan Bävman

The competition will result in a new public space hub for education, social inclusion, and job assistance programs that bring together new and established residents.

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.


More than a million migrants entered Europe in 2015, highlighting one of the toughest challenges that cities around the world will face for decades to come: In an era of great uncertainty, how and where can people find opportunity?

Malmö is an ideal place to explore innovative ideas to improve social inclusion and access to economic opportunity. Malmö is a gateway city to Scandinavia, and is rapidly growing and diversifying. It was also the point of arrival for the vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers (or “new arrivals”) settling in Sweden – up to 10,000 a week at its peak last fall.

job seekers waiting to meet employers at a job fair hosted by the private nonprofit Good Malmö
photo: Åsa Kalée
Photo: The New York Times

As in many other cities, Malmö’s residents face challenges finding work in today’s global economy. Analysts estimate that the average age at which people in Sweden find their first “real” job (one that allows them to qualify for a mortgage, for example) is 29, and that it takes new arrivals up to seven years before they are gainfully employed.


Opportunity Space calls for multidisciplinary teams to bring design thinking to bear on both the built environment and social programs in order to achieve the following:


mobile classroom in Busan, South Korea that collapses into a portable trailer
design and photo: Atelier Bow-Wow
  • Imagine new ways for people to use or develop their skills and experience to build social capital, share resources, or earn income.

  • Create a mobile physical structure that makes education, social inclusion and job assistance resources more visible and accessible to job seekers and the general public.

  • Establish a striking and inviting amenity in the city that is open to everyone, and brings diverse groups of people together.


The competition includes two sites: a portion of open lawn along the southwest edge of Enskifteshagen Park, and inside a one-story warehouse building in the Sofielunds industrial area directly to the south of the park.

The park site offers great visibility within a well-used public park; the building will provide a heated, flexible, indoor space on days when it’s too cold or stormy for outdoor programs. Both the industrial area and the park are home to an extremely diverse range of users and uses.

The park site looking south towards the industrial area.
Playgrounds along the northern edge of the park.
MKB building, looking west just inside the entry.
MKB building, looking north just inside the entry.
Looking north from outside the MKB building to the park.

The winning team will receive a $10,000 prize, a $5,000 travel stipend, and up to $25,000 to cover the costs of implementing their proposal, including costs for materials and insurance.

The built project must be fully mobile and/or transportable by a few staff or volunteers. When not in use, the built project must be disassembled or moved to the warehouse building in the Sofielunds industrial area.

Teams must include a firm or other entity that can obtain all necessary insurance and permits for the project. (The City of Malmö will waive the cost of the permits needed.) A skilled, experienced, member of the team must be a designer who is available to meet regularly on site and with project partners during the implementation process.

Van Alen Institute and White Arkitetker will help guide the winning team in moving from conceptual design to implementation. Skanska will provide a general contractor, engineer, and skilled laborers to lead the construction of the proposal.

Once built, the new space will available to all residents of Malmö, and will support programs run by government, private sector, and nonprofit partners.

October 11, 2016
Competition launch

November 7
Pre-registration deadline

November 18
Competition deadline

November 23
Jury meeting

early December
Annnouncement of winning team

April 2017
Winning proposal realized, opened for programming


Agneta Salhead Canneroth, Head of Planning Unit, City of Malmö Departmenr of Streets and Parks

Aså Kalée, Good Malmö

Gunilla Kronvall, Chair, Architects Sweden Skåne; Atelier 01 arkitektur

Christer Larsson, Director, City of Malmö Planning Office

Helene Rahm, Head of Skåne Department, Individuell Människohjälp

Sara McDonald, Head of New Production, MKB

Monica von Schmalensee, CEO, White Arkitekter

Ingebørg Skaare, Senior Architect, Snøhetta

Marta Stenevi, City of Malmö Deputy Mayor; Chair, City Planning Committee

David van der Leer, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute; Jury Chair

Salahuddin Barakat, Islamakademin
Ninni Benediktson, Arbetsförmedlingen Malmö – The Swedish Public Employment Services
Tarek Borg, City of Malmö, Social Resource Management
Thomas Brunk, City of Malmö, City Planning
Jerome Chou, Van Alen Institute
Elin Einarsson, City of Malmö, Streets and Parks
Carl-Gustaf Fritz, JM
Henrik Gunée, City of Malmö, Streets and Parks
Alexandra Hagan, White Arkitekter
Karin Heri, Malmö Fotbollförening
Åsa Kalée, Good Malmö
Gunilla Kronvall, Architects Sweden Skåne; Atelier 01 arkitektur
Pia Hellberg Lannerheim, City of Malmö, Trade and Industry
Annelie Larsson, City of Malmö, Social Resource Management
Christer Larsson, City of Malmö, City Planning
Elizabeth Lundgren, City of Malmö, Culture
Tommy Malmstadt, City of Malmö, Labor Markets
Per-Arne Nilsson, City of Malmö, Environment
Maria Norrby, City of Malmö, Labor Markets
Mattias Örtenvik, E.ON
Louise Palm, NCC
Sander Schuur, White Arkitekter
Andreas Siverståhl, Individuell Människohjälp
Carina Tempel, City of Malmö, Internal Services
Benny Thell, City of Malmö, Real Estate
Anders Tojkander, NCC
Charlotte Wadström, MKB
Camilla Wieslander, Skanska Öresund

About Van Alen Institute

At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.

Website: www.vanalen.org
Twitter: @van_alen
Instagram: @van_alen
Facebook: /vanaleninstitute

About White Arkitekter

White Arkitekter was founded by Sidney White in 1951 and is Scandinavia’s leading architectural firm with over 900 employees working in 16 offices in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK. Our work is research focused and our expertise encompasses architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and interior design.

For nearly two decades, White has invested in establishing a unique research-based department of highly qualified experts in the field of sustainable design. Our founder’s aim was to improve society through architecture and his legacy lives on in our ambition to contribute towards the building of a sustainable world.

About the City of Malmö

Malmö, Sweden is the commercial center of southern Sweden and an international city with 300,000 residents from approximately 170 different nationalities.

Malmö is undergoing a transition from being an industrial city to a city of knowledge. Older industries have been replaced by investments in new technology, training programs, and infrastructure – including the Öresund Bridge, which connects Malmö to Copenhagen. Malmö University, which opened in 1998, is Sweden’s latest venture in the field of higher education, accommodating some 24,000 students.

Over the last years the City of Malmö has received many international awards for its focus on sustainable city development and pilot projects such as Augustenborg and the Western Harbour. Malmö was also appointed as the first Fairtrade City of Sweden.

About Architects Sweden

Architects Sweden is the professional organization for architects, interior architects, landscape architects and spatial planners in Sweden with 12 800 members, including 2,600 students.

About Individuell Människohjälp (IM)

IM is a Swedish member-based organization fighting and exposing poverty and exclusion through development cooperation, integration and Fair Trade. Founded in 1938, IM is currently working in five regions and thirteen countries worldwide.

IM’s international work focuses on people´s right to education, good health and ability to sustain a life in dignity. All projects are implemented in close collaboration with local partner organizations. IMs work in Sweden is focusing on integration and inclusion into society. The strengthening of civil society is both a means and an objective in all activities.

About Skanska

Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups with expertise in construction, development of commercial and residential premises, and public-private partnerships projects. Based on its global experience, Skanska aims to be the clients’ first choice for Green solutions. The Group currently has 43,100 employees in selected home markets in Europe and North America. Skanska’s sales in 2015 totaled SEK 155 billion.


These resources include site maps and links to organizations, programs, publications, and other resources addressing migration, job assistance, and sustainability in Malmö and Sweden.