Less is more

Excuse me, can you sum up your three-week-long work in three minutes, please? No worries, feel free to dance, sing, draw or just simply stand out to the podium, but make sure we are 100% entertained!

Eventually, the time has arrived to keep our final, paper presentations. Since we were around 30 people in the class, it would have taken ages to do it in a usual way. Therefore, Anna, our course leader searched for a creative way to solve the problem.

Science slam was the solution. Have you heard about it? It is a scientific presentation where experts explain their work in a short 10-minute-talk for a layman audience. The main goal is to communicate their research in an understandable, concise and entertaining way for everyone. That’s what we had to do as well!

And that was one of my biggest fears… How on Earth am I going to narrow down 15000 characters to 3 minutes? Should be brief and should make sense, moreover: entertaining?? Hardly the easiest thing to achieve…Turned out, it was a challenge not just for me, but for everyone. Though, we nailed it! The day was even spiced with the task that we had to evaluate one another by writing comments of the performances. You had to list two positive things and one that they still need to improve.

In mine, I had the idea to start with a tiny story, showing a car on his way bumping into a nature visitor centre. Just a small tale screening my simple sketches while telling the journey of the tourist. Later, when I got all the feedback from my class, I was glad to read them – they all stated it was a creative way to raise people’s attention and make them interested in the topic. Hurray!

So it revealed, that it’s really a possible way to catch people’s attention and make them interested in your research subject. I could stay focused on every presentation without getting distracted for a second. By following the guideline “less is more”, sometimes, instead of a long and boring speech, you can make yourself understood by just saying a little and expressing the gist.

 

What would be your tool?

Beyond participation

Last week, I took part in a conference at Alnarp. But this time not like at Husqvarna’s, no shuttle bus, fancy burritos or textile bag with brochures for me… But a lot more: being behind the scenes!

My course was asked to help out with the event, Beyond-ism: The Landscape of Landscape Urbanism, a conference full of experts of Landscape Architecture and City Planning.

However, in the beginning I had the thought about being a staff as a drag on myself, soon, I had to change my mind. It was fun to prepare the decoration and also an honour to assist the lecturers and lend a hand during the sessions to make sure everything works out fluently. I liked it a lot not to just participate but at the same time being an insider, wearing a nametag with a different thread colour.

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And haven’t even mentioned a word about the thought-provoking presentations I heard…

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So even though it looks like it doesn’t fit in your schedule, if you get the possibility to participate, grab the chance to broaden your mind and your network.

A sniff of fresh air

My “hygge” weeks essay is going alright – to report the current situation. Though, I had some obstacles to tackle with in the past few days: my family came to visit me.

Needless to say, it didn’t really move my paper forward… So I had an idea to connect pleasure with practicality. Considering what is in a close proximity, preferably still in Skåne, I took them to Stenshuvud national park for a couple of hours’ hike.

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It’s a relatively small area located on the Eastern shoreline of the county. Despite the size, it has a big variation in height levels and contains a combination of various landscape characters: coastal hills, pastoral heaths, lush deciduous forests and both pebbly and sandy beaches. Spiced with autumn colours! What else can you ask for? The main walking tracks can be easily accomplished in a short time, and in the meantime leading through the valuable attractions of the site. By following the path and combating the wind we reached the top of the hill to admire the dramatic view of the coast and the mere blueness of the endless water. Then, later, the trail gently glides over the hill meandering down to the sea, eventually ending us up on the rocky then sandy beach.

Coming from a landlocked country, for me, sea and these coastal sceneries have always had an exotic character and I am fascinated by discovering them. While strolling there and collecting shells, we even found a corpse of a seal!

In my individual course task, I am doing a research about nature visitor centres. It is the tool of architects and landscape architects that can contribute with to protect nature by both preserving and interpreting it but also in the same way fulfilling the function of informing the general public. The paper particularly has the focus of Swedish centres, called naturums.

Incidentally, Stenshuvud has a bit time-honoured but nicely done “gateway” to nature. So, here comes the practicality in the picture…

 

If you don’t have a car, ride by bus no. 3, it’s a perfect autumn weather for a Sunday hike!

“Hygge” weeks

Let me row to a lighter topic this time…

In my course, Explorations into Landscape Architecture, after weeks of group works, we have essay weeks at the moment. It means, that we need to schedule our time on our own to write the assignment, an academic paper. It goes on for 2.5 weeks and in the meantime we continuously get feedbacks how we can improve it.

Last Friday, in class we had to evaluate each other’s papers in progress. It meant that Anna, our course leader divided us into groups of four to read and comment on our mates’ writings and vice versa. Have to say, I was a bit nervous about it first, because I am not used to doing it. Back at home in my previous uni, we hardly had the opportunity to give criticism on others’ work. But as I experienced it here, Swedes like to discuss and like telling their opinion which made it also easy for me to get along on Friday. (This technique of humble but honest arguing is what I really want to peek from them, by the way.) At the end, I realized how much these paper oppositions helped me to take my work forward.

These small deadlines during the individual work, frame my time a bit. Which is really good, since sometimes I have a hard time organizing my studies… To add, I am also a bit glad that the weather is not welcoming these days. Just grey and wet, so at least one reason less to be distracted. And one more reason to practice the Danish term “hygge”, (a word, that can be best described as “cosiness” in English …or maybe wearing a thick pair of wool socks while nesting in a sofa supping mulled wine in candlelight) what all Scandinavians are really good at, I suppose.

Of course, practicing it with my best companion during the essay weeks, with my laptop in my lap.

Study hygge

… and come back for my next post with a mug of hot chocolate in your hands!

Cheers!

Power to the parks

How much practice do you have mowing the lawn? Cutting hedges or trimming edges? Honestly, I have to admit, I am not that advanced in handling those machines at all. Besides the gasoline has quite an unpleasant smell, and I am truly afraid of their loud, growling noises.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Stockholm hosted by Husqvarna: Silent City. They presented their latest innovations and invited entrepreneurs, scientists and landscape architecture studios from all over the world to participate and share their experiences. And tell, how they imagine the future of urban parks. Of course – silent, user-friendly and sustainable. So one thing that Husqvarna, a traditional Swedish producer can contribute to, is replacing petrol products to electric machines in maintenance.

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But to be part of the future parks more and to strengthen their view what could come next, they made a report this year. Asked hundreds of landscape architecture students in 15 countries (also at SLU, among others. Maybe you too?): what’s your vision of green spaces in large cities in 2030?

By questioning the role of parks, the look, the environmental impact, the role of technology and the formula for park maintenance they covered a wide range of aspects of future green public spaces.

To me, as a landscape architect student, just to pick a topic from the questionnaire, a leading design, the look is always important. That’s why it was interesting to hear what my peers think about it.

Many of the students thought about an urban wilderness. Nature oriented design, well-kept, but lush. Maybe how Südgelände Naturpark in Berlin looks like – abandoned industrial area conquered by nature? Or the much discussed and well-designed but natural-looking High Lane in New York instead. Many stated that space will matter in 2030, but there will be solutions like pop-up parks, pocket parks and rooftop gardens. Another good idea is to build linear parks. They are easier to carry out and can reach more people than a square shaped one.

I myself, do not have an idea of how parks will look alike in 2030. But one, that really caught me, was a Dutch case. An ideal green city in the metropolitan area of Amsterdam, a carpet of hundreds of gardens on an island, which has its own ecosystem, producing its own energy but also deals with and clean its own waste. A real symbiosis of the energy flows.

Here you can find a short resume of their notion, cool stuff:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-mjCiRGKBM

I do not have a clear view yet about parks in 15 years. However, I believe, if someone asked me, I would say, this Dutch green island, “Floridade” could be a leading example for the future. It makes me wonder how much power a pocket park would have in 2030. Could you imagine that as a source of sustainable energy, parks will generate energy by themselves? Hardly easy to believe! J

And I bet, a battery driven edge cutter will be a must have there…

 

Keep your eyes open, it’s happening!

Chicken or egg – Master thesis presentations

What I learnt last Friday was that examiners look at the reference list first. Another, that there is often no equivalence between what you expect to reach and what you actually find. But even if you fail to achieve anything relevant for the hypothesis you stated, finding nothing new is also a valuable result. Moreover, nil could be even more interesting. As it makes place for a further, future hypothesis. “That’s what science is about”, underlined Kristina Blennow, a supervisor of one of the Master thesis’ which were presented on Friday.

I was happy that we had the chance to listen to those presentations. I find it motivating to see what people find interesting to „put under the microscope” and hear about topics through their perspectives. Though, this time I felt a bit under pressure when I faced that I have to do something similar in two years. Made me nervous too, seeing them being stressed and having their stomach lifting up and down because of their performance. On the other hand, I noticed how much it meant for them to have a group of cheering friends behind the examiners. Also, a friend of mine, Ivana, was among the ones, who were about to graduate.

She made a thorough research about placing charging stations for electric cars and developed a proposal for Landskrona, “the electric city”. Working with stakeholders she could focus on what the customers exactly need. By using GIS analysis (spatial analysis) she ended up with potential spots for placement.

One of the things that especially made me wonder was that she thought about the question what comes first: the chicken or the egg? Electric cars or the charging station? Do you need a boom in the purchase of electric cars first? Or do you need to develop the network of charging places in advance? Would people buy electricity driven vehicles if they see that there was an infrastructure for refuelling? Hard to tell. But what is for sure, they are dragging each other forward. One cannot exist without the other.

I liked how she could capture the focus of the listeners. Her findings evoke the interest of the whole audience and made room for discussion, which even continued in the break.

Besides my friend’s thesis, seems like I bump into electric usage everywhere recently. Maybe this view comes naturally with Sweden, or might be just a coincidence. However, I appreciate it. One of them influenced me a lot – a conference this week.

 

I will tell more about it next time. Stay tuned and have a nice week!

Plunge into Alnarp!

Hej everyone!

I am Bogi, I am from Hungary and I did my Bachelors in Landscape Architecture in Budapest. However, last Spring, I had the opportunity to study at SLU for a semester as an Erasmus exchange student. I had a blast and it made me decide to come back for the whole Master programme.

I am just about to start off sharing my adventures about my Masters in Landscape Architecture that I began this Autumn in Alnarp.

The goal of my blog is to capture and depict how is life at campus, education at SLU and how does it feel to be a Landscape Architect student.

As a new blogger – besides of the daily events, challenges and routine work as a student – I am also planning to write about the following topics during the next months:

  • Sweden through my eyes
  • What is landscape architecture?
  • International student community in Alnarp
  • How to get started – housing, banking, Swedish ID etc.

So if you have anything in mind or that particularly interests you, ask me, or, do not be afraid of commenting. I will always try and be ready to share my impressions and feelings.

And whenever you wonder that landscape architecture sounds like an extraterrestrial issue, check this out immediately:

http://www.archdaily.com/771035/why-landscape-designers-will-be-key-to-the-future-of-our-cities

Hej då