Lagom mobility

Co-opting a loose word—the Swedish concept of ‘lagom’—and redeploying it for our streets and neighbourhoods

Dan Hill
But what was the question?

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Working on numerous urban mobility-related initiatives here in Sweden, and running design workshops with stakeholders from municipalities, regional and national government, transport agencies, Volvo, MoveByBike, Voi and many others, I started stringing together a phrase, lagom mobilitet’ to describe how we might better calibrate our mobility to our spaces, looking to fit, calibrate and refine the mobility options into the space, with a little more humility, grace and care, rather than the other way around.

Hmm

Lagom is a Swedish word that is notoriously difficult to translate precisely and perhaps as a result captures a usefully flexible ethos. It has irritatingly generated hundreds of self-help and lifestyle books accordingly, shuffling along behind hygge and ikigai and the like, in airport bookshops. Lagom is usually translated as ‘just enough’, or ‘just right’, or ‘good enough, given the situation’ or ‘nothing special but perfectly fine’ or ‘not too much and not too little’— or simply ‘appropriate’. (Though it’s worth noting that it can also have the air of ‘a bit crap’, or ‘certainly in no way great … but not bad’, which conjures aspects of the sometimes downbeat, ascetic Nordic sensibility.) It is not as cosy…

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Dan Hill
But what was the question?

Designer, urbanist, etc. Director of Melbourne School of Design. Previously, Swedish gov, Arup, UCL IIPP, Fabrica, Helsinki Design Lab, BBC etc