Snogeholm throwback

Huh, it has been a heavy week! We had a lot to do for school. When I received photos from our Snogeholm adventure, it was a relaxing break to just look through them.

Some of them I like so much that I couldn’t resist sharing.

“During our visit, we were walking around among the stands following the green dot painted on tree trunks.”

“The green dot was undoubtedly necessary because there was a big difference from a hiking path in the woods: there was no pathway.”

“As I was walking around I realised how much I liked to be there in winter. To observe the open passages…”

“…the diverse or just monoculture forest edges making gradient or sharp borders without their green leafage.”

However, this is just a brief catch up with characteristic elements, amusing stand details, transitions, landscape types so that you can have a picture in mind. But doesn’t substitute any visits!

Credits for the nice shots to David Zimmerling

Queuing for microwave

12.10, Alnarpsgården, Pause Room: What do you have? Lasagna? It smells delish, maybe I will cook that tonight! Thanks for the hint.

In Alnarp, we have common pause or lunch rooms where you can sit, eat and heat up your food. Equipped with dozens of microwaves, a coffee and vending machine, fridge, sinks, kitchen counter – it’s not like a high school canteen. I would call it a lunch hub.

According to its name, the usual routine is that all students gather there at around 12 and it becomes far more crowded than any other lecture halls or classrooms. Everyone rushes to the fridge, takes out its plastic food box (which all carefully squeezed in there in the morning) and tries to catch a free microwave. The resourceful students never have to wait, but the majority of the people always end up in a long-long queue. In good weather you can combine eating with being outside in the courtyard and fetching vitamin D, in a cold grey day, you can just simply socialize with your classmates at the lunch tables.

Besides the always nice company and practical equipment I also prefer to eat there because of the room itself. I especially like how they preserved the character of the former barn in this premises of the main building (apart from the library, my ultimate fave). The old features like the high ceiling, the wooden beams and the fodder storing structure, and how they introduced the modern with the industrial style of the visible pipelines and the white paint.

There is only one drawback about the concept of the lunch hub which is the smell. The concentrated smell of all dishes heated up. So if someone brings something intense, the whole room has that special scent.

Anyways, I like it that can cook or prepare food in advance in order to consume it there or just take your leftovers from last dinner. It is a simple and cheap way to get warm food in your stomach. But if you don’t have the feeling for being a star chef when getting home after a strictly scheduled day, there is an option – the restaurant in the arboretum can save you from starvation or from being uncreative what to cook. By grabbing a sandwich or a menu what you can even take away… and eat in the common room!

Besides the rush between 12-13, there are some other functions of the room too. Most of the time the space and the microwaves stands empty and quite. So it becomes a suitable spot for a study circle, a group work or just a short contemplation on the couch (yes, couch). Once we even had a class randomly designated there.

So pack your lunch and queue in! 😉

Experimental hiking

Winter is not the prettiest season in South Sweden. Grey, foggy and moist are the best words to describe it. Therefore, there are no excuses for not going on a trip in drizzling rain or horizontal snowfall. However, you can really imagine yourself as being on an expedition while dressed up in 5-10 layers of clothes. With this spirit we started our journey to Snogeholm, another experimental forest after Alnarp.

While thumbing the ‘scape magazine, next to the report about the landscape lab in Alnarp, I bumped into a brief review about the Snogeholm landscape lab. It raised my attention due to the similar principle of our campus forest’s idea. However, this one also has connections to SLU, it is situated much farther in Scania, in the vicinity of Ystad, located on former crop fields of 30 hectares embraced with an extended woodland complex. The place was born with the contribution of a bunch of landscape architects and foresters who had the idea and began developing it in the early ’90-ies. They created a forest pattern composed of 67 mixtures of woody plants. Surprisingly, these 67 kinds of trees are representing almost all the tree species that can be found in Sweden. Apart from the main experimenting reasons, it functions as a recreational hub in the Scanian open landscape. A perfect den to hide from wind and exposure and to spend an easy day.

While studying the article the picture of the aerial photo really caught me with showing the surrealistic and picturesque tree stands flourishing in the shades of autumn colours. It caught me, but I didn’t have the patience to wait seasons to visit and admire the same appearance shown in the paper. However, it made me wonder: does it have something to show in winter as well?

During our visit, we were walking around among the stands following the green dot painted on tree trunks and letting ourselves be fascinated triggered by the environment. The green dot was undoubtedly necessary because there was a big difference from a hiking path in the woods: there was no pathway. No beaten track, just a few signs on the trees leaving you stroll a bit and letting you choose your own route and your own way to discover the place. As I was walking around I realised how much I liked to be there in winter. To observe the open passages, the changing groundcovers according to the tree species, both the dense and spacious stand interiors with bare boles, the diverse or just monoculture forest edges making gradient or sharp borders without their green leafage.

Yeah, it could be easy to spend a day there, but preferably without a heavy snowfall, which we actually had. Therefore, after a few hours of exploration the need was urgent to melt our frozen fingers and stiff toes. So we decided to treat ourselves with a cup of hot bryggkaffee in the lovely town of Ystad, where also the thrilling Swedish crime series, Wallander takes place.

Check it out! But just after the landscape lab!

From weather to climate

Even though I enjoy the arboretum, I also study. It has already been more than two weeks that my new course started.

Have you read my short summary of my paper about people and weather? I was unusually passionate researching the theme and enjoyed a lot learning about this essential, yet not well recognized topic in the field of landscape architecture.

Coincidence or not, my current class, Landscape in transition, started with a very smooth change from my previous essay to the actual lectures. The new course is about climate change, the impact of climate change in the landscape and possible opportunities for adaptation. To get enough background we started with an essential topic: weather! But to be correct: weather is just a regional phenomenon and climate is the broader, global counterpart– yes, I just learned it.

You will hear more about my new course in the upcoming blogs. But what I can say, I like it already. Particularly, I am fascinated to hear about things which I am completely unfamiliar with. My homeland, Hungary, has a big history in combating flooding caused by our rivers. But as a landlocked country I have never faced with any issues connected to salty water. Post glacial continental rebound? Rising sea level? Or eroding coastal areas?

And there will be an excursion as well – “erosion spotting”! But, coming with the updates soon!

Island of green

Going to university embedded in the middle of an arboretum is a complete paradise for students, I would say. Especially if you study landscape architecture! Alnarpsparken and the campus itself is a green island surrounded by agricultural fields and the coast of the Öresund. It always gives me the feeling of a different world to arrive at and a place which I am fond of going to and being at.

The park is proudly cited as one of Sweden’s largest botanical collections where more than 2500 species live and flourish with the majority of woody plants (and hopping rabbits everywhere). It has a significant collection of magnolia trees, not by accident it’s even the symbol of the Alnarp Student Union. I have plenty of favourite spots to take a stroll, like the gingerbread smelling Katsura tree clumps in autumn, the bear garlic covered forest in early spring or the perennial garden in late summer with the ornamental grass patches.

But there is a place which is unlike any other spot. A hidden part on the other side of the railway, which gained international recognition among landscape architects in the past decades, the Landscape Lab.

This laboratory is not quite what you expect when hearing it for the first time – not full of chemical tubes and colourful toxic liquids in a homogeneous white room. But they experiment with different kind of tree species accompanied by a broad variety of maintenance techniques. The area itself is an oblong strip of woodland planted in the ’80ies and ‘90ies with a forestry approach but with design background. Which means that the trees in the stands are planted in grids but for the purpose of researching the cases of openness, density, light & shade, biodiverse and monocultural stands as well as how people enjoy different areas with these different features mentioned.

To reach the different function or aim of the stands they also experiment under the principle of design by maintenance. However, it’s hard to track the changes because they rather do smaller, somewhat unnoticeable interventions than big, loud changes.

The combination of the old, romantic Alnarpsparken and the newly built landscape lab creates an unusual and exciting variation. The woodland laboratory lets the floating green island of Alnarp extend with still leaving the feeling of that special other world.

Dansa och prata

It may seem like the fun possibilities in Alnarp are nearly endless. Indeed.

Even though all our classes are in English and every Swede is fluent in speaking it, I have always found it a weakness that they don’t provide a Swedish language course for international students at campus. But have to add, that any native speakers are always willing to teach you and are very pleased if you try to patch up a meaningful sentence with your surely wrong accent.

Built on this experience, recently, some friends of mine had a brilliant idea and started an initiation right away. They wanted to have an informal way of practicing a language by speaking it. So they invited people to meet in the student union house for having chats in every language possible and having fika besides (indispensable ingredient) – “språkcafe” or “language café” in its official name.

Despite the fact that I was big supporter of this event series, I was hesitant to go when it was time. Have to admit, it’s not really my thing to just say whatever comes to my mind not caring about grammar mistakes. But eventually, I could convinced myself to do so.

It was a quite a surprise when I stepped in, and the whole room was crowded with people coming from different countries motivated to learn another language. All a bit clumsy staying and waiting for it to start I didn’t feel that afraid anymore. But the mood was dissolved soon when we began with a warm up exercise to break the ice. The bonding game, was literally bonding.

Now, that we got a more sociable atmosphere the speaking could begin. Depending on what language you wanted to acquire you could choose from tables where to sit to. Expectedly, the majority was preferring Swedish which made poor Swedes being invaded by internationals. But the good thing is that you can actually exchange languages if two persons are interested in learning each other’s mother tongues. There were corners like French, Spanish, German or even Japanese besides the popular Swedish.

The peak of the intercultural exchange has arrived as my Spanish friend gave the possibility to switch to learn dancing Colombian salsa when you gone speechless… Like a stretch down after a demanding exercise.

 

Not just the fun, also to learn something new is nearly endless in Alnarp 😉

These benches are always occupied

At the end of October I made an enthusiastic report about a conference held in Alnarp, called “Beyond-ism: The Landscape of Landscape Urbanism”. Back then it only seemed like a fun event as a stuff member hanging colourful tassels on doorknobs and serving fika in the breaks. Now I can tell you, it was way more fruitful than that!

During those days I attended a lecture held by Marie-Claude Dubois from White Architects, about using climatic maps to predict pedestrian urban comfort in early design stage. She pointed out a method how to achieve optimal outdoor spaces for people with taking climate into account. Even though, I just appeared on her presentation accidentally, it turned out to be one of the driving “forces” that set off my curiosity and started my brain working. It amazed me how important, useful, still not widely applied or well-known this topic is. Later on, I watched a documentary for my course based on William H. Whyte’s book “City, rediscovering the center” and their observations in New York. I became fascinated by how people follow the way of sun in front of a plaza along the day. How they act differently in different weather conditions.

The individual essay in my previous course “People and Environment” was a perfect reason to map this subject better and find out if indeed climate is not that fashionable to talk about, or, it is in fact, the black sheep of the planning process.

There are existing examples keeping climatic conditions in mind including both large and smaller scale projects that can stand as a proof and show why the topic deserves the spotlight. Sadly, but I can’t share all my research in a short post. Instead, there is a tiny, but very descriptive example I can bring and with which we can all meet on the street: benches in the sun.

A public space does not always require much, sometimes small interventions can already invite people to enjoy the milieu to a bigger, more quality extent. In the city of Lund they emerged the concept of outdoor seating places to a next level – putting out the so-called “sun benches” on the main square. These are rows of seats placed out in Stortorget, a busy spot in the city. For the first glance they seem to have an unusual character with their linear arrangement. They likely provide seats for city dwellers to have a rest and spy the “performance” of the square as the audience of the show. However – wait for it –, they are also oriented in a perfect direction to catch the sunshine all day long. Turning the unusual seats into the best sun bathing spots in the city. Accident or planning?

As this concept proves, sometimes already just a little adaptions to the environment can raise the quality of a place. We can only make attractive public spaces optimal for outdoor staying if we consider the surrounding conditions which involves climate as well.

Maybe you will notice it when next time you catch a sunbeam and wish to have a bench to sit on.

Tripping mosaic

Before letting the topic of holidays go, let me give you some tips and illustrate some of our best moments and trips we made from the dream cottage in Båstad:

Charming Båstad at dusk                     56°26’00.9″N 12°50’32.2″E                               photo by: David Zimmerling

And the following day!                         56°27’43.4″N 12°41’29.3″E

Serious whale watching at the peak of Kullaberg 56°18’03.2″N 12°27’04.8″E                               photo by: David Zimmerling

Refuelling in Torekov with the best Swedish winter pastry, Semla                                        56°25’37.4″N 12°37’26.3″E

 

Atmospheric jump

Finally, back on track!

I have not been in Alnarp for a long time. In the past one month we had an individual task in my course “People and Environment” that didn’t require us staying at school. Of course I was “busy working” but at the same time had the opportunity to relax and enjoy Christmas break. And there had been a lot of fun stuff going on during the holiday (besides my paper :)). One thing I have to tell you: how we celebrated New Year’s Eve.

During the semester I gradually discovered how much advantage it has to be part of the Student Union. Remember the parties, baking sessions and international dinner I wrote about? And, apparently, there is even more to discover. As a member, you can rent a house for student budget in a small charming fishing village. There, in Båstad, located at the coast of the Kattegat in the most Northwestern corner of Skåne you can easily spend your holiday in the former house of a famous professor.

It was a chance that we couldn’t miss. So we decided to chill an awesome week with my friends in the wooden cottage, called “Arons hus” having the view of the sea and a fireplace to make our stay more “hyggelig”.

The property was actually donated in 1975 by Aron and Paola Westerlund and now is owned by the two student unions of Alnarp and Ultuna. It still has the touch of the past century with astonishing pictures of the family adventures and it feels like we were just dropped down in a neat home in the middle of the last century, not a usual run-down student house!

The water is at about 5 minutes’ walk so for us it was a daily program to rush down and watch for the smallest whales, the porpoise, endemic in the area. Or just, as a compensation watching some seagulls… When it was about to turn midnight on the 31st, we did the same, so took a stroll to the sea but this time to have an atmospheric jump into the New Year. It was such a breathtaking experience. Have you ever seen fireworks at the sea almost 360° around?

As a recovery, on the 1st of January, we decided to gift ourselves with a sauna experience. And now, don’t just think of a little cabin in a spa as an additional service. Instead, imagine a long pier leading to a wooden house in the middle of the sea! While approaching the sauna and looking at the water waving under you, combating the frosty wind is a ritual in itself, like reaching a rocking boat. It makes you prepared for the arrival and to be longing for being finally inside. The best part comes when you are totally heated up by staying inside the hot cabin for 15-20 minutes. You take a big breath, run outside, down the stairs and jump into the icy sea without any thinking. Or at least a short dip for the less daring ones…

It was like being born again and a jump-start for 2017! Just a hint for this year…

Me and my bike – Part II

Ruling the roads, huh? Where is the girl from the latest blog post thinking and showing she is on her way of becoming a real Scandinavian cyclist? I have a confession, it doesn’t work out all the time. As I said before, there is still a lot to acquire…

I was already wondering, how on Earth it is possible that Lund – a big bike-friendly city – is not drowning in the sea of parking bicycles. You don’t need to maneuver between carelessly put off and fell down vehicles. On the contrary, they seems so well organised and only placed at designated spots. No worries, now I got a first-hand answer why: they take away the improperly left bikes!

I have already known that they have a “maintenance” crew for this purpose in Amsterdam to save the city from being messy and keep it neat. But Lund? I have to agree with the fact that the surroundings of the central station is quite busy and packed with bicycles. No need for excuses, I was in a big hurry tho, so I just parked my bike next to the shed, not in it. Although it ran through my mind that it wasn’t the prettiest way of leaving it there, I didn’t think about any serious consequences.

To my surprise, my beloved two-wheeler was long gone when I arrived back. I could describe my feelings as dismay, panic and sorrow alternating second by second while scanning all parking places in the vicinity. Nil. I could just hope that it has only been relocated and is waiting for me somewhere… After a fast research in the coldness, I found that the poorly treated bikes in Lund have a webpage to orientate the desperate and negligent owners! Fortunately, after contacting them, it turned out, they have my missing and I can pick it up anytime… I have never been happier to see my rickety, slightly rusty cruiser again. *Sigh of relief*

So, watch out, where you park. You can spend your 200 krona better than reclaiming your sad bike from the depot, don’t you?

So here I am again, back on the roads, brace yourselves!