In 2012, three architectural competitions were held as part of the strategic programme ‘Living Well, Growing Old’, launched by the Swedish government in 2010. The intention was to use the innovative quality of the architectural competition in order to conceive future-oriented built environments for the ageing Swedish society. In Sweden, several architectural competitions with a focus on space for dependent and frail older people have been organised over the past century. Architectural design has been incorporated into reforms for social care of older people. This study focuses on the relationship between architecture and socio-political visions in three architectural competitions, realised in 1907, 1948 and 1979. The study demonstrates that architectural competitions within this field are more than a list of functional and spatial requirements for architects to respect. Instead, they are socio-political statements that define spatial frameworks within an ideological view on how ethically to provide care for dependent and frail older people in a welfare regime.