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The history of Markeliushuset


The 'Markeliushuset' or the  'Collective House' at John Ericssonsgatan 6 on Kungsholmen in Stockholm was designed by the urban planner and architect Sven Markelius in collaboration with the sociologist and social democratic politician Alva Myrdal. The building was erected by the construction firm Gumpel & Bengtsson in 1935 and was then Sweden's first complete collective housing. Since its inception, the house has been owned and managed by the tenant's association. It is internationally famous from an architectural as well as a social and cultural historical perspecctive

The house was built with several different collective functions, e.g. daycare, restaurant with food elevators ('dumb waiters') to most of the apartments, intercom system for the restaurant, laundry and cleaning services, as well as two shops (a grocery store and a milk shop), all in accordance with the social housing ideas that prevailed in the mid 1930s.

The purpose was to emancipate women and give full-time working couples with children as well as single professionals the opportunity to get help with various everyday tasks through the house's collective functions, such as child care, meals, laundry, cleaning, etc. This was achieved by the tenant's association hiring staff; at most 22 people were employed to work in the house. 

When the building was completed, the Swedish Crafts Association (Svenska Slöjdföreningen) arranged an exhibition on the 1st floor during the period May 18 - June 9 1935. The exhibition committee had invited eight different exhibitors, for example Svenskt Tenn, Elsa Gullberg and Carl Malmsten, to furnish eight different apartments for eight imagined household types with a fictional resident/family for each apartment, which reflected "people from all walks of life". For this exhibition, the journalist and cultural historian Gustaf Näsström wrote a text for an illustrated catalogue published by the Swedish Craft Association 1935. The purpose was to attract interested people to purchase apartments by showing:

   "how the financial position, way of life and interests of all the fictive people influence the choice of

    furniture and other interior items; thus how the eight different homes faithfully reflect eight

    different ways to thrive. What is collective in the Collective House is only the external

    organization. Within the walls of the homes, life is lived at least as individually as in your own life".

The motto of the exhibition was: "Individual culture through collective technology"

Originally, there were 57 separate apartments in the building, some of which were rented out directly by the tenant's association to the employees. Nine apartments of 15 square meters each were built without a kitchenette or food elevator. During the 1990s, the association managed to merge adjacent small apartments. Thus, today there are 46 apartments, where the smallest are 33 square meters.

Sven Markelius had his architect studio and lived in the house for ten years 1935-1945, while also serving as chairman of the tenant's association. However, Alva Myrdal and her husband Gunnar Myrdal never lived in the house.

During the restoration project in 1990-91, the chairman of the board, Gunnar Akner, wrote a "Member booklet" about all the members (owners) of all apartments between 1934-1991, with names and professional titles as well as a brief description of the building, the daycare and the restaurant. The booklet is offered to all new members.


Social housing ideas

The collective housing project was controversial in 1930s Sweden and caused much debate. Above all, the criticism concerned the idea of women's emancipation and the collective upbringing of children in daycares with specially trained staff under the belief that this would undermine the nuclear family.

During the 1950s, the daycare had a research laboratory to observe the spontaneous play of children from a separate room behind a one-way mirror with the purpose to optimize premises and activities. See "Daycare" and Bertil Sundin's dissertation in 1963.

The ideas concerning the house have been important for the emancipation of women and the childcare policy of later times, see e.g. a university report by Anne-Marie Elmqvist in 2001, as well as books written by Dick Urban Vestbro 1982 and Claes Caldenby/ Åsa Walldén 1979.

Under the "Media" menu there are many books and articles, where the above is discussed in more detail.


•  Movie "Mr. Funkis. A meeting with the architect Sven Markelius".

Anders Wahlgren 2022, SVTPlay.

•  The Collective House was appointed "Sweden's most beautiful 1930s building" in 1995 (see below).


•  TV program "K-marked Moderna - Markelius Collective House" 951127 by Staffan Bengtsson, Göran Willis and photographer Hans-Åke Levin (SVTPlay 1995).

•  Quote by restoration architect Jan Lisinski: "The building is a beautiful and elaborate example of functionalist architecture. With its smooth and clean facades with few and sparse details, it shows the care and ambition of the functionalist thirties". Eva Rudberg, Arkitektidningen 1992.

•  The restoration of Markeliushuset 1990/91 is summarized in the chapter "A case study of restauration" (in Swedish) published 1992 in the book "Functionalism - worth caring for" by the DOCUMOMO, Swedish group.  

Historical building monument (​Byggnadsminne)

Markeliushuset underwent extensive Restoration 1990/91. The project was carried out following unanimous decisions of a long series of tenant's association meetings under the motto "high level of cultural and historical ambition". After a unanimous application, the association agreed with the County Board in Stockholm to declare Markeliushuset a historical building monument on October 15, 1992. 

The house was then the first functionalist architecture building in Stockholm and the first residential functionalist architecture building in Sweden to be declared a historical building monument.


After the restoration 1990/91, the tenant's association and Markeliushuset have received several awards:


 Stockholm County Homeland's Association's (Stockholms läns hembygdsförbund) diploma in 1992
"for valuable contribution to the building culture in Stockholm County".


•  The Society of St. Erik's special prize in 1995 "for the meritorious careful restoration of 

Markeliushuset at John Ericssonsgatan 6 in Stockholm preserving one of the few remaining collective houses of functionalist architecture".


•  The Housing Agency's (BoVerket) and the Swedish Association of Architects' (SAR) award in 1995 "Carefully remodeled" and "Sweden's most beautiful 1930s building, both in terms of the design of
the apartments and the street facade".


•  The Society of St. Erik special award 2015 "for cultural-historical and architectural interesting buildings".


Skylt byggnadsminne.jpg
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