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Published: 20 Jan, 2016

Building boom in Umeå and at campus

NEWS The construction of new accommodation has really kicked off in Umeå, especially the building of small rental apartments. In 2015–2016, nearly 2,000 apartments are being built in and around Umeå of which many are one-room or two-room apartments. Up until 2018, there are plans of completing another couple of thousand accommodations on and around Campus Umeå. About 700 of them will be devoted to students.

“We can see a bright future when it comes to accommodation in Umeå, and hopefully we will shortly find a solution to the current shortage of housing. This shortage has not just affected single students and members of staff, but also the region’s and the university’s ability to grow and develop,” says Anders Fällström, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University.

Many newcomers to Umeå have struggled to find a place to live. The reason being an underestimated amount of new builds, especially small rental apartments in the city. Coinciding with this shortage of housing is an increased amount of young people wanting to move away from home and new students at Umeå University.

Some regular apartments in the vicinity of Campus Umeå have had up to five or six years waiting time, which renders it absolutely impossible for new students to get hold of one of those apartments before the end of their studies. To get your hands on a first-hand contract to a dorm room, the waiting time has been about a year. The strain on housing, and the lack of guaranteed accommodation in Umeå, has resulted in Umeå being red listed by the Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) since 2013. Something that soon is about to change.

Focus on small apartments

Housing at Lilljansberget is the most recent addition to the building boom close to campus. Credit: Elin Berge.

The university, the municipality, the county council, Akademiska Hus – the property manager of Umeå University, and various building companies have now made a vigorous effort in order to get on top of the problem of accommodation. Within a year, around 2,000 new apartments, dorms or other types of accommodation will be ready to move into around Umeå.

This includes around 280 student apartments located next to the athletics arena between the area Nydalahöjd and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. These small but fully-equipped one-room apartments for rent are only the start of the planned building boom around Campus Umeå, according to Anna-Lena Löfgren, assistant Planning Officer at Umeå municipality:

“We will experience a unique investment in student housing in the next few years, and the student housing situation will improve considerably. In and around campus alone, 2,000 small apartments are planned, and I should think at least half of them will be devoted to students,” she says.

Many apartments earmarked for students

David Carlsson is pleased about the current development.

Apart from the 280 student apartments from Svenska Studenthus that are now being built next to the athletics arena, Akademiska Hus is now planning on building over 400 student apartments in two areas around Campus Umeå. The first will be located in the grove east of Campus arena – on the football grounds next to the Northern Behavioural Sciences Building, that is. The other one is planned in the south-east, in the woody area between the roads Petrus Laestadius väg and Lilljansvägen.

“If everything goes according to plan, 700 student apartments will be ready in these three areas in 2017 at the latest. It is an incredible increase and as far as I’m aware, it’s more than what’s been built altogether over the last fifteen years in Umeå. This is a good sign that our joint efforts have been successful,” says David Carlsson, regional director at Akademiska Hus.

Several new housing areas around Campus Umeå

Many small apartments – of which at least 700 are devoted to students – will be built shortly in four areas in close vicinity to campus. Apart from the three areas alongside Petrus Laestadius väg, more accommodation will be added along Tvistevägen.

Yet another huge building project next to Campus Umeå is a joint venture between Balticgruppen’s and Wallenberg Foundation’s new subsidiary, Campus X. In the woody area by Tvistevägen, between Ålidhem and the university, there are plans for adding accommodation of between 800 and 1,000 small apartments. At present, work on the local development plan is underway and, already this spring, the company hopes to start on the first phase of the build. The objective is to have around one hundred apartments ready by the turn of 2016/17. Moreover, the bike and cycle paths in the area will be updated as 4,600 cyclists use them on a daily basis.

Anna-Lena Löfgren also reminds us about the previous housing areas that have been added around campus in the past – Lilljansberget and Nydalahöjd:

“Even if housing ‘earmarked’ for students has been scarce as of late, it is important to remember these huge extensions to the city, with in particular small apartments and to a majority occupied by students and young people.” 

Mixed accommodation – a positive feature

Richard Olsson.
Credit: Mattias Pettersson.

Richard Olsson, head of division at the Umeå University Building Office is pleased about the development on Campus Umeå, for several reasons:

“Apart from ridding ourselves with the problem of housing, it is also good to mix accommodation with other types of buildings. That attracts people to the area at all times of the day, which brings life and security to campus.”

Editor: Anna Lawrence