In 1644, English jurist Sir Edward Coke was quoted as saying: “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique tutissimum refugium,” or, one’s home is the safest refuge for all.

And so it was for the first members of the HSB Housing cooperatives in Sweden in the early 1900s. They felt as though their homes were at their disposal. Industrialisation didn’’t really take hold in Sweden until the 1900s at which point a great need arose for urban housing for workers.

The first HSB-association had been founded in 1923 by the Tenants’ Union, with the purpose that the cooperative members would build and own their housing estates. Under the HSB model the property was owned by the cooperative which led to a common safety and security.

The following years had many salient moments. In the 1930’s HSB developed an extensive industrial activity with carpentries, factories for detached houses as well as a marble quarry.

And by the 1940s and 1950s it had built large parts of municipal housing companies’ rental housing, in addition to building HSB housing cooperatives.

Work expanded again for HSB builds in the next two decades when it was building more than 10,000 apartments per year.

Now, 31 regional associations are part of the HSB National Association, with 330,000 apartments and 550,000 members.

It has broken ground in the development of housing in Sweden. “We were building bathrooms in every apartment and common laundry rooms as early as the 1920’s,” says Anders Lago, chairman HSB National Association.

“In order to rationalise and reduce construction costs we introduced a special “HSB Standard” which became a model for the standardisation of housing construction in Sweden.”

All in all, HSB has built about 10 per cent of all housing in Sweden.
This story is an IYC Yearbook feature: