Swedish word of the day: funkis

Swedish word of the day: funkis
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This word is a key one for any property-hunters or lovers of Swedish design.

Funkis is one of the many Swedish slang terms ending in -is, a linguistic phenomenon we've previously examined on The Local. It comes from the longer term funktionalism, 'functionalism' in English, referring to a specific architectural style, which follows the principle that buildings should be designed keeping only the intended function of the building in mind.

'Functionalism' could apply to offices and industrial buildings designed in the style, but when we use the shorter term funkis, it often refers to residential buildings, whether detached houses or apartment blocks. Look out for phrases like i funkis-stil (in funkis style) or compound nouns such as funkishus and funkislägenhet (funkis building or apartment).

These would have no grand, decorative facades, but were made mostly of rectangular or cube shapes, with big windows and balconies.

There was a focus on allowing plenty of light into each room, with funkis buildings located on the ground at such an angle as to let in maximum light at optimum times of day (for example, sunlight in the kitchen in the mornings and in the living room, bedroom and balcony during the evening). The locations were also predominantly in areas closely connected to town or city centres but with easy access to nature, a combination that still has great appeal today.

The 1930s were the main era of functionalism in Sweden, but many buildings in this style were also built during the years before and after that decade.

At the time they were built, these buildings were also considered very forward-thinking because they included laundry rooms and rubbish disposal within the apartment blocks, and a bathroom in every room, which wasn't standard for the era. Because of that, they were also sometimes called hygienhus or 'hygienic buildings'.

Funkis buildings can be found in most towns and cities across the country, often clustered in the younger suburbs, and they remain extremely popular among Swedes partly for their traditional character and partly because many still serve their function so well today.

In recent years, funkis has also been used as shorthand for the term funktionshindrad (disabled). It's generally not considered pejorative, but as a non-native speaker it's best to exercise caution using slang terms where context is important.


En riktig funkispärla!

A real gem of the funkis style! (an example of text you might find in a real estate brochure)

Så inreder du din funkislägenhet

Here's how to decorate your funkis apartment

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