Brittgården is a housing estate in the eastern part of Tibro which, through the years, has aroused strong emotions. Its construction started in 1959 and it was constructed in stages as far as until 1969. At that time Sweden was in an expansive period, the so-called ”record years”. The moving in from the countryside to the industrial manufacturing towns increased. In Tibro a decision was taken to build the housing estate Brittgården to meet a growing demand for accomodation. On one hand to workers in the cabinet-making industry, on the other hand to families with children.
Brittgården was designed by Mr. Ralph Erskine, one of our internationally most famous architects. Mr. Erskine is widely known for his innovative ideas and his unconventional solutions. His ambition was to create good and well-functioning housing environments in which natural social interaction between people living there prevailed. At the same time he wanted of course to place his mark on the architectural map.
A place of mixed houses
Erskines’ ambition was also to adjust the places to live in for everybody, for the young as well as for the old. Erskine made Brittgården a place of mixed houses.
The four-flat high block of flats encircles the housing estate. The flats, slightly more than 350, were made into cooperative flats under the administration of Riksbyggen. The houses were equipped with external galleries within which it should be possible for neighbours to meet naturally.
At the southern part of the estate are placed the low atrium houses with their enclosed yards. These were owner-occupied houses. The boards with their characteristic ”Falu-red shutters” you could either draw aside or draw across depending on what kind of view and on the contact you wished to have with others. Within the estate is also a block of 25 terrace houses in one or two floors.
A living community
Brittgården aimed to be a community within the community. During the 1960s women started to come out in the working life. Then the estate should be able to offer more of services like: a grocer´s store, meeting places and nursery schools. The grocery store ”Brittgårdshallen” was opened in 1966 while it was long before there were enough nursery school places as well as a nearby school.
Cars were not allowed within the estate. In the yard the residents should be able to meet and the children play with each other. The many ways to and from the houses almost brought about a labyrinthine feeling. Some of the garden paths were planned only some time after the moving in. Erskine first wanted to see how the residents moved about in the area.
Brittgården became famous for its architecture. The exterior galleries, the lying windows, the robust balcony-constructions and the asymetrical ceiling heights were new elements. Many people made educational visits, also people from other countries.
The decline of the cabinet-making industry in Tibro came at the end of the 1970s. During the 1980s the recession severely struck the town and as time went by many flats stood empty.
In 1988 the block of flats had an additional insulation with today´s grey facade plates, to lower the energy costs. The original white plates disappeared. In 1992 one of the block of flats was pulled down despite strong protests from the National Heritage Board and from Mr. Erskine himself.
From 2001 Brittgården is owned by and administered by Bertil Lindström. With great commitment and good relations to his tenants no flats stand empty today. Mr. Erskines´ ideas of a democratic architecture have served as a guide to Bertil´s work. Brittgården today go through a revival, which it deserves so well.