Systems, Policies, and Regulations Securing the Future of Danish Social Housing

Nezih Burak Bican

Abstract


Denmark regards social housing as a crucial tool for its welfare state and, thus, there is strict governmental control at national and local levels over the sector. For years, this sector has strived to keep the quality of existing stock through renovation, transformation, and/or complex regeneration activities. In addition, new settlements are recently built or integrated into larger urban development projects. For one following the recent spatial practices of social housing in Denmark, a pursuit for sustainability and liveability is evident. Based on a review of systems, policies and regulations circumscribing the Danish social housing sector, the current study questions how the underlying mechanisms control the spatial decisions related to social housing, how planning regulations, governmental policies address its practice and spatial quality and how the sector’s historical evolution are all interrelated. In this sense, the present article discusses how such seemingly dispersed elements connect to each other to shape a sustainable future for social housing. Emphasising significant historical and social facts, this article provides a structured contextual outline of the Danish approach to social welfare and housing market, while highlighting critical local, national and international principles in place to secure the future and the quality of urban space within social housing settlements in the country. To this end, reference will be made to the discoveries of local actors, which render social housing a practical tool, in that a social housing settlement can be durable and affordable once it is built for liveability to secure future demand; that enhancing spatial quality can be a dependable means to regenerate an estate through holistic and participatory approaches; that new social housing can be instrumentalized to arrange social mix by innovative planning and architecture; and that architectural quality has the potential to transform a building into a self-promoting investment. The study concludes that the history of socio-economic survival in Denmark works hand in hand with that of social housing, which has been a means of sharing and cohabitation under the severe and unexpected circumstances of national economy and unrest. Moreover, in line with the expansion of the Danish economy, success of regenerative trials in recent years, and the growth of qualified architectural know-how, the sector has found its sustainability in further promoting spatial quality.

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