A sunny afternoon in Solbyn

On my journey through Sweden I was able to make a short visit to Solbyn ecovillage just outside of Lund. Solbyn is Sweden’s second oldest ecovillage and was for a long time it’s largest. The ecovillage, completed in 1988, houses ecological apartments for fifty households in the beautiful countryside village Dalby, surrounded by fields and gardens. During my visit spring was in full glory and I can spot many different types of edible trees and plants blossoming in the community gardens. Even though I did not get to stay long to really experience the community, I am inspired by how more than thirty years ago citizens took their own initiative to create a housing situation they envisioned for an ecological lifestyle in harmony with nature each other, rather than settling for what the state and market had to offer.

The entrance of the ecovillage, with on the left the roof of the parking spots: the whole community is car free.
A view of some of the rowhouses in Solbyn with in between them communal gardens filled with trees and plants that all have edible crops.

The ecovillage was initiated by several families in the 70s who, inspired by environmental books like ‘Silent Spring’, wanted to live with a low ecological impact in healthy surroundings. After joining forces with a Swedish, cooperative housing association (HSB) and searching for a good location on commuting distance from Malmo and Lund, Solbyn was built with several types of rental apartments, a kindergarten and community gardens for growing food. Walking around during day time, the ecovillage feels like any other family neighbourhood only much more peaceful and green. With all cars parked at the entrance and a wide variety of edible plants and trees, a very quiet vibe has been created with many different types of birds and insects buzzing around in the ecovillage. The houses are all rental apartments and have greenhouse structures attached on the south sides for passive heating, the waste water is treated on site as well. Social contact is an important aspect of living in this neighbourhood, which is stimulated not just by living close to each other, but through workgroups, shared activities and the gardens. During the planning phase, a size of 30-50 households was deemed perfect to still all be able to know each other, but without being so small that social control becomes too big. Nowadays, Solbyn may not be as radically sustainable or communal as later ecovillages, it does however still provide accessible, affordable sustainable apartments in a healthy environment for families who can still commute to the big cities for their jobs or education.

Read more about Solbyn on their website:
http://www.solbyn.org/about

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