UMAN ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE NO. 2 2015 Price: Pay what you want. Printing cost: 21 kr
meå’s skyline has during the last years been characterized by cranes and unfinished landmark buildings. New hotels, shopping malls, an arts campus and a cultural center are all new additions to one of Sweden’s fastest growing cities, and the ambitious goal of the municipality is to reach 200 000 inhabitants, a near double, by 2050. On top of all this, the city is busier than ever as Umeå prepares itself to become the Capital of Culture in 2014. Millions have already been spent on this cultural spectacle: an advertisement tour has visited major European cities, a construction-boom has hit the central parts of our city and the new cultural center “Kulturväven” will prove itself as Umeå’s new landmark. As we are closing in on 2014, it becomes clear that the view of our politicians stretches no longer than until the end of same year. Since construction of Kulturväven is going to be a lot more expensive than expected, there is not enough money to run the cultural center in the following years. Will this lead to cutbacks on other cultural institutions? Will there be other negative consequences as a result of intense investment combined with the short-term goal to make 2014 into a fantastic and unforgettable event? As we see how Umeå is expanding and the physical environment of the city is changing from day to day, we worry about the years to come. We think that the coming establishment of IKEA must mean something to our city, and that we don’t want Umeå to become another shopping mall. So when everyone’s focus is on 2014, we ask ourselves: what will happen when the party is over? What will come out of all this when we write 2015 and Umeå is no longer the Capital of culture? The theme of the second issue of UMAN is therefore 2015. We try to cover the changes of our city, but we also write more general articles on the theme. Enjoy.
Illustration: Faina Tyagay
Oscar Björkqvist and the editorial staff of UMAN
Logo design: Erik Mårtensson. Cover Illustration: Alexander Åkerman
CONTENT 4. 5. 6. 8. 10. 13. 14. 16. 17. 18. 21. 22. 23. 26. 27. CONTACT UMAN Magazine Umeå School of Architecture Östra Strandgatan 28 C 90730 Umeå SWEDEN firstname.lastname@example.org www.uman-mag.com
TOP 4 ARCHITECTURE BUZZWORDS DRONES THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY IN A LIFE LESS ORDINARY AGAINST THE GRAIN SUBSIDIZED SUBURBIA THE FALSE FAÇADE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - NOW WHAT SEARCHING FOR UTOPIA LETTER FROM THOMAS NO MORE HOT-DOG WAR COMIC STRIP THE ANTI-CULTURALIST
EDITORIAL Editor in Chief Jenny Lindberg Vice Editor in Chief Oscar Björkqvist Finance Tania Rönnbäck Haitto Distribution David Grahn Hellberg Secretary Kim Schmidt Content Curator Viktoria Ottosson Content Love Lagerqvist Alexander Åkerman Cecilia Tarandi Viktoria Ottosson Ali Reza Dossal Oskar Simann Malte Dahlberg Joshua Taylor Graphic Design Ludvig Widman Jenny Lindberg Photography Anna Kristinsdóttir Illustration Ida Wressel Contributors Faina Tyagay Magnus Olsson Alina De Liseo Peterson Johannes Samuelsson Patrik Brännberg
THE MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY ILLUSTRATION - VÄVEN IN COLLABORATION WITH
PUBLISHING POLICY UMAN Architecture Magazine poses to be objective. Any opinions expressed in articles stand for the writers or persons interviewed. We aim in most cases to have an open agenda and let the creative freedom of our contributors be important. We are a school paper, entirely non-profit and made on free time. What our contributors find interesting is of great importance to us. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on email@example.com and we will sort it out.
Paper quality: Munken Print White 15 Printed at: Original i Umeå AB Umeå, 2013 1000 copies
TOP 4 ARCHITECTURAL BUZZWORDS OF 2015 Text: Love Lagerkvist Illustration: Ludvig Widman
ArchiCADettes In an initiative spearheaded by Zaha Hadid, ArchiCAD decides to branch out into the branded workforce with a GPU-accelerated bang. Armed with a hip manifesto declaring the total renderification of all architecture, these help desk brooding youngsters provide 24 hour, twitter fuelled hotlines. Always ready to help you choose what kind of metal fits your seamless glass facade the best. PR hotheads call it the re-evolution of the intern, loudly hashtagging this paradigm shift as the spark the industry needs. The Pre-Pre-Fab Fad After the 3D-printing (r)evolution of 2014, architects all around the world start to experiment with ways to incorporate this new, exciting technology. One of the more successful experiments that come out of this are the Pre-Pre-Fabricated buildings, structures printed on site even before any of planning has started. Once this process is complete, the project enters Inter-fab, where some posh guy in Google Glass spends a week carefully mapping out the tech-tonics of the building. Once this is complete, Post-Fabrication begins, an exciting time where the client gets to choose his or her own personal dashtag (recent development to connect social media platforms) among with a plethora of other preset personalisations. Zero-Footprint Buildings The quest to save the environment through number crunching goes on, as the trend of zero-footprint buildings really take off in 2015. Fuelled by new ideas of the extraminimal, a group of fuzzy Belgian architects start constructing buildings without any actual, well, building. And the numbers check out, if we donâ€™t actually make anything, the footprint shrinks down into minuscule obscurity. Politicians are amazed, environmentalists are thrilled, even the tabloids chime in proclaiming this new era. Governments all around the world invest billions into a pilot scheme involving student housing, most of which stands ready in little less than a year after the first conceptualisations. Blobitecture In the far future of 2015, architecture will not be defined by function, but rather raw fetishized form. Using the organic to create something as far from nature as possible, these brave souls are redefining what it means to build something. It might seem far fetched, but - oh, wait, this is actually a thing. Move along.
Text: Malte Dahlberg Illustration: Magnus Olsson
In 2015 the United States will start integrating Civil Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into national airspace. What happens when the skies are full of these things? No longer necessarily armed and poised to strike but neutral in their nature, civilian, perhaps even to be considered benign? Drones can no longer be understood simply as pilotless aircraft, watching, spying or bombing. These activities are just symptoms. The actual aircraft is meaningless by itself. The actual drone is the relation, integration; with satellites and command and control centers, forming a complex network with which the human operator interfaces, essentially forming a cyborg relationship. The person that interfaces with the (military) drone-network exchanges eyes for the black-and-white video feed from drone cameras, feet for propellers and rudders and hands for laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. His/her spatial experience is that of flying and watching from above; it is presence from a distance – removed from geography, hovering high above somewhere else. Drone warfare is not “remote controlled bombing”. It is the transfer of spatial consciousness over satellite link across half the planet. And while there is a lot to be said about the geographies of drones from a geopolitical perspective, the drone operator experiences a total loss of geographical location. He/she is present wherever the drone-body is, regardless of his/ her everyday physical body, and the presence is real. The only difference from actually being there is mediation; the world is seen in black and white and the drone-body responds with about a minutes’ delay.
And then we can interact with something not because we walked/ drove/flew there, but simply because we chose to. We can browse through space, or spaces, like one now browses through web pages, jumping from location to location, sometimes just tagging along with the auto-pilot and sometimes in charge; “Go left” you say-think-click and you go left. And then you get up from your chair to get some coffee. Soon enough Google Street View seems as ancient as old Photochrom pictures or maybe even Egyptian hieroglyphs in their representation of space. The cyberspace of William Gibson’s seems a strange concept now that you are swooping through actual space, be it the streets of St. Loius, Missouri or the deserts of Aeolis Palus (that is on Mars, by the way). All the time you intervene, you interact and interfere with things around you – or is it you? Yes. Every millimeter of the Earth is mapped out, every grain of sand of every beach photographed in high resolution. Spider-like automatons crawl over surfaces, their microscopes slicing materials into raw data; precision cameras taking pictures of every tree and every building everywhere in every part of the light spectrum, at the same time. Lasers mark locations. Enlightened despots, corrupt dictators, corporations and representatives of liberal democracies alike monitor - and bomb - dissidents, assisted by sophisticated pattern recognition and behavioral analysis software. Borders are blurred: not only those of nation states, but also those of who decides what: machine or human? We are building a dronespace, a technosphere that zooms from one meter to 35,786 kilometers above sea level. Machines hover, watch, transmit. Everyone is watching themselves watching everyone. Space is something that happens in the feedback-loops of man-machine, in cameras and satellite links but only because we put those things somewhere. Post-geography or hypergeography? The question we should ask ourselves is: Where am I?
“The Future of Humanity in a life less ordinary” At the epicenter of the Umeå Arts Campus rests an elaborate facility of the humanities. HUMlab-X is an ensemble of creative work and an extension to the HUMlab at the main Umeå University Campus. It aims to deliver energy through collaboration with interdisciplinary faculties to produce a body of work and research that benefits the life of the Humanities. I call it the creative chaos! In this life of the ordinary, HUMlab sets a Platform through perceiving the unusual and addressing the societies to achieve the Less Ordinary. It involves, welcomes and engages people from all walks of life to be part of a multicultural platform; whereby allows us to explore the potential of our present day society. You may wonder what all goes on in here? ? Karin Jangert - development co-ordinator at the HUMlab-X - shares her experience.
It’s a great job…I get to meet a lot of interesting people that both challenge my perspectives and also make me laugh. I feel as if HUMlab-X is still in the beginning of what it can be. We’re working on making people aware of that this space is open for you all and that you are most welcome to hang out here doing projects, join our workshops and so on. And of course we’re always interested in collaboration, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any ideas that you want to test. I’m looking forward to being a part of HUMlab-X growth. My work has primarily been related to democracy, gender equality and diversity and in these fields I’ve worked a lot together with creative people of many different ages and backgrounds. My common thread has always been a strong desire to be involved in the creation of contexts of critical making as well as critical thinking. Contexts where we meet to live our dreams ask questions and create space for new thoughts and ways to see the world around us. And this often is the case when working together with kids/students/creative people. ”
Art, Architecture and Culture are forever embedded to our history and the prevailing cultures of the present. Change is inevitable, and often living in the stereotypical makes it monotonous eventually. To make life exciting and less ordinary, one moves on to be different and to stand out. The ones responsible for the change so to say will manipulate, intervene and integrate through humor or reflect the reluctant ordinary behavior of us people. I believe the environments we live in, in their turn impacts us, Our subconscious mind is triggered with enough information on a daily basis to create an influx. This influx reflects the patterns of our lives in societies and culture. On the contrary the initiator of the change so to speak is the work of the rebellious subconscious mind; one who questions along a pattern and or an attitude towards life. Of course a particular transformation reaches saturation but allows the dawn of creative stimulus. There is never one way of approaching things. The potential is far greater and the complexity of a trend can result in multiple unconventional approaches. HUMlab is exactly that platform to explore the intuitions of our mind in the ever changing society through means of cultural, artistic and technological contact. This summer students from different disciplines of art, design and architecture showcased in collaboration with the HUMlab to address the environment around us. An intervention that allowed the three schools to participate in discovering the possibilities of public interaction. Taking simple objects and transforming them to create dynamic interactive spaces. Among the seven different projects that went on exhibit at the HUMlab facility (Summer project- 2013), the three interventions are listed below. Projects 1, Jacob Cyriac and Komatsu Yui | Umeå Institute of Design Concept: Persistent shadows/ painting with shadows Tool/ object: Kinect “This is a wall on which shadows persist even after you’ve gone away. They look like normal shadows when you pass by. A snapshot of your silhouette might remain after you’re gone, and then slowly
The Integrated Design Interface is a collaborative project with the HUMlab and Umeå Art Campus, that uses series of light scoops and transfoms them into inverted projections of Events and Info. Using the Kinect technology, allows users to swipe through the interactive billboard.
Prj.2 fades away. People who pass later see the fading remnant of the shadow and might recognise persons from the silhouettes. Painting with shadows: This is another aspect we explored. People passing the wall could leave trails of colour with the shadows of their hands as they walk by. Once they notice that their shadows leave a trail of colour they might wave their hands to paint patterns and swirls on the wall. These two distinct concepts could be combined in an experiment of what kind of marks or images or marks people might leave in a public place, anonymously and non-destructively.” [Creators project description and photo - HUMlab Summer Project 2013]
Projects 2, Apurba Pawar and Johan Grönskog | Umeå Institute of Design Concept: Soundscape Tool/ object: Kinect “The idea is to create an interactive soundscape for the public to interact with, using digital media to enhance reality for an immersive experience. The concept is based on the idea of the fun theory (http://www.rolighetsteorin.se/); making passerby’s inquisitive about the ambient visual and auditory installation. Initially the installation would be triggered by the passing public and generate an audio/sound feedback combined with a change in the visual projection in the aim to make the passerby curious. Once engaged, the installation will proceed to stimulate the spectator to create a soundscape alone or in a group.” [Creators project description and photo- HUMlab Summer Project 2013]
Projects 3, Ali Reza Dossal | Umeå School of Architecture Concept: Let’s Post-it Tool/ object: Post-it “‘Let’s Post-it’ is a site specific exercise that explores the possibility of transforming a space into one big interactive Pin up. Using only post it’s, the project breaks the two dimensional surface to explore the potential of a space. Using anamorphic illusion, each post-it is part of a pixel to form a giant image in that space. Viewed from only a particular angle it engages the viewer to identify the image and interact with the installation and leave their impressions on.”
[Creators project description and photo - HUMlab Summer Project 2013]
These Projects showcase the 4th dimension of our surrounding in conjunction to the immediacy of people’s reaction and behavior. This allows us to reevaluate the way we perceive things in the less ordinary. It suggests that the notion of “fun” is no longer associated as “not serious”, but an essential aspect of our behavior. It is the factor that allows people to engage. We as a creative institute allow us to explore these social behaviors in our society to shape the things we see and do. Needless to say that there is enough potential in each individual and possibilities for a creative stimulus are endless, it all boils down to find the niche and help integrate in our already existing fabric. Article, illustration and graphic design by Ali Reza Dossal Student Ambassador HUMlab | Umeå School of Architecture.
Against the Grain |
See Hear Speak
Text, illustration and graphic design | Ali Reza Dossal
Against the grain depicts the issues relating the current forestry of the Scandinavian countries. It raises awareness, questioning and identifying the problems associated to forestry. Boreal forests are spreading out across the northern hemisphere like a green belt. Here lies the kingdom of Sweden whose forest constitutes less than 1% of the worldâ€™s forest acreage. But which yields 5% of all forestry products used in the world, but a whole 10 % of the turnover of the global export market. This is possible as it follows so to speak a sustainable forestry model that inspires the world today. However the protagonist approach has drawn considerable attention and debate over the realm of sustainability among a few.
A lot has happened in the forest since the last 20 years. Within forestry new approaches have been developed such as ecological landscape planning, with creation and retention of forest structures and forest species. For example dead wood, it has been indicated that these aspects have positive effect but in reality 20 years is too little time to draw conclusions as the cycle and rotation of a boiling forest is far too long. If the current practices remain this persistent one may forsee significant eradication of the few natural forest left us.
Swedenâ€™s Sustainable model for forestry consists of methods that seem narrowly directed towards production in particularly with regard to clear cutting. Many argue the aspects of biodiversity and the red listed endangered species. The essential aspects of conversions of natural forests in to mono cultural plantations and instead planting mixed trees would allow the biodiversity greatly.
Reference: www.protecttheforest.se Boreal forest fact sheet. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Text and illustration: Alexander Ă…kerman
A shortage of housing and an insufficient amount of new construction make living increasingly expensive in growing Swedish cities, with Stockholm as the extreme example. In this text I want to discuss an unconventional possibility to ease this problem.
he swedish minister of housing, Stefan Attefall, has during his 8 years in office initiated no less than 65 different investigations of how to improve the housing market and the planning system. The number illustrates the level of urgency that the housing shortage has. It endangers both the growth of the economy and expose inhabitants to social stress as renovictions becomes a more common practice for landlords to earn money. Lots of proposals to solve this problem are being presented. A common opinion in the debate is that this situation is caused by rent control and that the only solution to this problem is to set the market free. It is argued that rent control offers cheap housing for a lucky few and that everyone else got their unfair share of an otherwise expensive housing market. Of course those lucky few wonâ€™t move from their cheap housing which in turn makes the market static, with few opportunities to get a contract. The problem, they say, is that a large part of the housing stock is subsidized by rent control and in turn this makes new construction less profitable and more risky. This can of course affect the amount of new construction in a negative way. But if we are to accept that subsidized housing affects the profitability of new construction and in a longer perspective causes a lack of housing, maybe we should look further than the subsidies created by rent control. Also regulations on form can affect prices and should equally be considered as a subsidy.
The diagram to the left shows how land values are distributed in an monocentric city, with a clear spike in the city center. The diagram to the right shows how land values can be affected by restrictive zoning regulations, for example villa-areas on attractive central land or defined boundaries for city expansion.
Subsidized and wealthy An example when regulations on form can have an unfair impact on housing prices are centrally located villa areas in the larger Swedish cities, where zoning codes limits the number of households per plot, regulates minimal plot sizes and built up density. These restrictions on form, in the sake of character, means that only a lucky few are able to compete for this land. It may be an invisible and indirect subsidy and given that the residents in these areas belong to the most wealthy and pay ridiculous amounts of money for their houses, it is not something that is easy to guess. But still they are subsidized, costing society in form of inefficient use of infrastructure, increased land prices and segregation. Just like rent control, restrictive zoning regulations could be considered unfair, when a majority of the population thereby is made unable to compete for this land. This of course has an effect on prices as it shifts the supply of land that is affordable for different income groups, reducing the locational choices of the poor and provide the rich with central land at a subsidized cost. But as a deregulation of rent control would most likely cause a lot of undesired social problems, a deregulation of unhealthy zoning restrictions would be less problematic.
How to spot the subsidy. Price of villa and price of land on a comparable location. This is a rather common situation that also goes for smaller cities than Stockholm. The price of the villa is divided into value of building and value of plot. Situation modeled after villas in FĂĽlhagen, Uppsala.
Corner plot, Built over, Built over and around, Low and dense, Small addition.
Potential for new housing The interesting aspect of all this amateur theory is: how can this subsidy be transformed to an advantage when it comes to creating a more just and affordable city? As we can se in the left diagram above a simple teardown of the existing building to make room for a new one would not do any magic to construction costs. But if the existing villa would be built in to the new rather than being torn down, a lot of money can be saved. It is like buying a plot and getting the building for free, a mechanism that would enable construction of relatively affordable housing in attractive locations. Due to the high debt levels of swedish households, it is reasonable to question the sustainability of todays high housing prices. If we want to build more, in this situation, it definitely needs to be more affordable and then this is an interesting way to do so. As densification has become a strategy in almost every master plan, the amount of land to densify is of course a critical aspect. This has to do with issues of sustainability since neither the economy or the climate allows much more of the same sprawling development. But densification also has its drawbacks. When the former industrial areas have been densified there’s no land left to continue this process. The shortage of attractive land to densify of course brings land prices up to ridiculous levels. When land becomes scarce there is a tendency to compromise on public spaces, such as parks. This doesn’t always need to be wrong but it definitely needs a process based on care and sensitivity. But when the word densification, for many people, has become a synonym to building in parks and other public spaces I see a problem. Densification of villa areas could be a way to avoid problems related to land scarcity. It could bring down land prices and give opportunities to enhance urban qualities. The potential for this differ between different cities, depending on both the overall land values in the city and how integrated these villa areas are with regional centers. In Stockholm for example there’s almost no villa areas integrated with the central city, but the land values are so high that a transformation of villa areas in more remote locations is possible. Malmö
Villa areas with a large potential to be densified
Villa areas with a potential to be densified
City development projects
In practice A relevant argument against this idea is that densification would destroy the character of the villa areas and it will certainly meet some implications such as how parking and infrastructure for sewage could be solved. A way to minimize this problems could perhaps be to co-develop densification of industrial areas with the nearby villa areas, which could create possibilities to make good solutions for infrastructure such as schools, parking spaces, transport and public spaces. An example of such an area is the villa areas in Enskede in southern Stockholm that is next doors to a big city renewal project called Söderstaden on former industrial land. This is perhaps the perfect place for a development of villa areas and could possibly become a dense urban neighborhood big enough to challenge the hegemony of todays inner city. As the housing shortage is growing more acute, the proposals to solve it becomes more and more radical. Some of these proposals I find problematic, such as the idea that market rents will solve everything. But in this landscape of proposed solutions a surprisingly few dares to question the existing form and structure of the city and the problems related to it. I think it is time to question the idea that we can preserve the existing, even when it leads to unjust consequences. In this text I have tried to find a method of how to expose when preservation of urban form becomes unfair. Putting numbers to the unjust consequences of urban form could be a strong argument that can inform the way people understand cities and hopefully add a new dimension to the public debate.
The False Façade Text: Oskar Simann Photo: Anna Kristinsdóttir
Five competition entries for a new bridge were just released in my hometown Gothenburg. This bridge has been widely debated over the past few years, with discussion revolving around whether it should be a higher bridge, like the existing, or several lower bridges. The city architect and a group of experts have been advocating the later, arguing that it would be the best for city life, creating a natural connection between both sides of the river. A higher bridge, on the other hand, has been pushed by the shipping companies. In the end, the companies persuaded the politicians to decide on a something in between, settling with something marginally lower than the existing one. How does one make a competition for a new bridge, similar to the one already existing? How does the city want to improve itself through this new bridge? The answer was iconic value. This following quote is from the competition text: ”The new bridge should [...] become a symbol of Gothenburg, a landmark that people associate with the city and an internationally recognisable icon.” This is also used for marketing the five proposals on Gothenburg city’s website. So, what are the proposals which answer to this desire for an iconic landmark? One of the entries, ”Götebox”* presents a regular bridge with an open cube placed upon it. The mid section of the bridge can be lifted in the cube. The cube itself has no real function or spatial idea. It is only there as a symbol to sell a city. But what is it, actually, that it is selling? What amazing feature gives this cube the right to represent Gothenburg as an international
”The new bridge should [...] become a symbol of Gothenburg, a landmark that people associate with the city and an internationally recognisable icon.”
and exciting city? I do not know. For me it is only a shallow trick and a way to completely ignore the progress of the city and the people living in it. With that said it is not fair to only blame the architects. This kind of proposal is only what you can expect with this kind of brief. To some extent, I can see the same pattern here in Umeå and the cultural capital year. The city of Umeå wants the culture house, Väven, to become a symbol of the city to project on the rest of the world. I have heard more stories about how the facade is supposed to symbolize the bark of the birch tree than I have heard about what is actually going to happen inside of it. Väven i Umeå AB’s (the company behind the house) logotype is significant. In it, the house and its facade has been concentrated in to a graphical symbol; architecture as logotype. In this state architecture is no longer for people but for the image alone. In the winter, when Umeå’s outdoor spaces become unusable, it becomes obvious what the city is in desperate need of. It is lacking qualitative, non commercial public indoor space. The library is today one of few such places. Unfortunately it will be moved to a smaller, less central location inside, not surprisingly, Väven. My guess is that it creates more problems than it solves. The common phenomenon in the cases of the bridge in Gothenburg and Väven in Umeå is that both cities are trying to create an icon, an image of the city that is simple to project over the world. What that image is, is less considered. What should, in my opinion, be more reflected over is what the people, who actually are what the city consists of, need. I doubt it is an empty cube or a birch inspired shell. *Editors note: Gothenburg is a city known for its dry humor and attachment to puns. The name ‘Götebox’ stems from the city’s Swedish name Göteborg and the word box, echoing the boxlike structure.
Photography and montage: Anna Kristinsd贸ttir
FOR UTOPIA Text: Viktoria Ottosson Illustration: Ida Wressel
it was massively advertised all over town. Smiling young girls with wavy hair, pouty lips surrounded by “bohemic” birds and butterflies were seen all over town. “Utopia anything is possible”. What more than shopping, I wonder, can happen in a shopping mall? Utopia is not the first galleria in the not so big town of Umeå, and probably not the last. But it is the biggest and loudest and dominates large parts of central Umeå.
Throughout history we have searched for Utopia. In philosophy, in literature, in art and even in real-scale experiments with whole countries we have tried to define the parameters of an ideal society. And now Umeå has its own proposition - Utopia, the mall.
The word Utopia was, in the sense we recognize it, firstly used in Thomas More’s book from 1516. The book is named Utopia and here Thomas More tells the story of an ideal society on the distant island of Utopia. The book describes, in a quite comprehensive manner, the Utopian Lifestyle. In the original version of Utopia, there is no money. There are not even private properties. Those who wear extravagant clothes and jewelry are being laughed at. It is therefore a bit odd that this mall, which is all about extravagant clothes and luxuries, took this name. Although the concept of Utopia has become rather an alternate; preferably ideal reality than the dream of Thomas More, they contradict each other on a fundamental level. Utopia, the mall; does not in any way portray another or better reality. It is a mall with drawings of butterflies and some greenery. For the moment being, it looks new and shiny, but that is about it. Soon it will tarnish and the choice of name will seem even more unfortunate than today.
The mall experience is overwhelming. I am not the only one who feels uncomfortable in malls: it is too loud, too hot, too many people. But somehow we keep coming back. It is so easy to be seduced by all the shiny images. The building itself is not much more than an image, a flat shiny display of an impossible but alluring lifestyle. One day I decide to visit Umeå’s Utopia: and when I walk through the huge glass doors of the mall, I cannot help but wonder; what is it? A quite narrow path leads me into the heart of Utopia, only to discover the exit that leads out to the street on the other side. There is no heart, neither literally nor figuratively. Although the construction work is not finished, I doubt that there will ever be more than shops here. I feel numb - so many impressions coming at me from all directions. The only thing to do is to shut off. As I pass through the galleria, I glimpse different realities for not more than seconds each. Whole worlds are built up inside the shops, complete with light, sound and smell. The path in the middle of the galleria mimics a street but is artificial. The “street life”, the mass of shoppers do not wish to linger here, but still they are drawn in, again and again.
Malls isolating themselves from the street, shadowing the public landmarks, forcing the inhabitants to only one activity (shopping); is this what Umeå wants to become? This is not Utopia.
Utopia is placed in the city centre of Umeå, next to the old city hall. When it was about to open in late October 2013,
Editors note: This letter was sent to us from a mr. Thomas No More
HOT-DOG WAR Text: Johannes Samuelsson Illustration: Alina De Liseo Peterson
When artist and photographer Johannes Samuelsson returned to Umeå, he realized his hometown was changing. Not only did Umeå prepare itself for the upcoming Capital of Culture, but in the urge to clean up public space, he found hot-dog seller Helmer Holm being caught up in a dispute against the municipality over the design of his hot-dog stand. As Helmer refused to leave his blue trailer, Johannes Samuelsson decided to cover the story of this one-man’s struggle against Umeå’s Technical Committee.
who today is the head of Streets and Parks, says over the phone that they want to avoid a trailer convoy and that the pedestrian street should provide visitors with an open and light impression. Chris Paulsson in turn says, during an interview, that their point of departure in designing the new stalls was the hot-dog seller with a box strapped to their stomach. He also says that he cares about the perspective of the customer and the overall impression created by the street. There is also a fire safety rule from 1999 that says that trailers may only be covered with an awning. I call Rolf Isberg at the Fire Protection Agency. He explains that there are other ways to assure safety of the kiosks. Propane is a heavy gas that flows downwards. So it’s enough to saw a hole
t’s the last night of my break in Umeå and I’m drunk. I get the idea into my head to climb into a construction site. There, I manage to hurt my knee badly. I have to stay with my parents in Umeå, even when my holiday is over. While convalescing, I’m offered a job as a guest teacher at the new School of Architecture, which ironically is right next to the building site. During January and February 2012, I give a course about community planning. With crutches strapped to my father’s bike, I start exploring my old hometown. Umeå has changed. From the strategic location of the hospital, I see how areas along the river are being developed by the public housing organization, Bostaden. Further along the same river, Balticgruppen’s prestige building is going up, a part of which is the School of Architecture. The river bank has been closed off for the construction of the new arts centre. The symbol for Umeå’s upcoming Capital of Culture, a red clown mouth, is everywhere. The local council has decided that Umeå’s population should double by 2050. The marketing states: “Umeå wants more”.
What is the town, if not its people?”
One day in October, I stop at Helmer Holm’s hot-dog stand on the pedestrian street in the town centre. He begins telling me what plans the municipality has for hot-dog vendors. Umeå municipality is designing open kiosks for the town’s hot-dog sellers that will be mandatory. Behind Helmer’s blue wooden trailer is a prototype stall. It’s an odd design, with a textile roof as the only protection against the elements. Helmer is fighting to keep his own cosy trailer. He has neck and back problems and would not be able to work in a cold and windy environment, and says that he has submitted a medical certificate to the municipality in order to avoid having to use the new trailer. This all sounds rather unusual, and I decide to give a lecture about hot-dog stands at the School of Architecture. I interview officials involved, other hot-dog sellers, politicians and designers. I take photographs of Helmer’s trailer and do some research about the history of hot-dog sales. Between the 1930s and 1980s, local municipalities allowed disabled people to take over of the outlets. It was a labour-market measure; an element in building up the welfare state. Today, however, it seems like hot-dog stands in Umeå are part of a different kind of urban transformation.
in the floor and store the gas in a separate compartment. When I meet the interior designer, Olle Salmonsson, he tells me that he followed the municipality’s rules and double-checked with the municipality’s Design Team. The team consists of, among others, Karin Isaksson and Carl Arnö, who are now shopping centre developers. The team was formed in 1998 after a motion forwarded by Anna-Karin Sjöstrand (Folkpartiet). She wanted to see a programme for projecting Umeå’s public face. The programme was completed in 2007, and provides a clear picture of the Design Team’s opinions about the Town Hall Square and related commerce. In one passage it says: “The crowds partly outweigh the aesthetic shortcomings of the Town Hall Square and the pedestrian street. Historically, the square is a natural meeting place and the centre of the town’s pulse. Here is where democracy finds its voice, together with diverse cultural expressions, alongside vibrant commerce. The square would obviously need more aesthetic street furniture and more inspiring lighting in order to assert itself in comparison with other town centre squares.” Living room is used as a metaphor for the public space. Small kiosks (i.e. hot-dog stands) and park benches are described as furniture, building facades as walls, and streets are turned into the living room floor. I note that the living room does not have a roof. By comparing urban design with interior design one focuses on the choice of colours, furniture and security. In this way, the centre, or “living room”, becomes a place for visitors, those who live adjacent to the “living room”. Those working in the centre are excluded from this metaphor. The importance of accessibility and security is emphasized, while class aspects are missing from the design programme. According to the municipality, it is the overly variegated character of the square that impairs its chances of winning the contest against other town squares. The old hot-dog trailers, including Helmer’s, are representative of what the municipality sees as variegated or, if one prefers, ugly. It makes me wonder whose aesthetic preference has been prioritized
In 2008, the Technical Committee asks the Streets and Parks Administration “to investigate the rules for the design of retail outlets (hot-dog stands) and fixed shelters, or the like, which can be provided/leased by the municipality to improve the aesthetics of certain sites.” Interior designer, Olle Salmonsson, is commissioned by Carl Arnö, then head of Streets and Parks. The following year, an unanimous committee decides that municipal hot-dog stands will be sold and new ones introduced in accordance with Salmonsson’s sketches. The decision is justified by the fact that the pedestrian street, where the kiosks are to be sited, will be renovated. Streets and Parks have been given the task to develop “a piece of equipment to ensure uniform and neat design of stalls with long-term permits”. The Technical Committee has stated that the old trailers no longer fit in. Carl Arnö tells me that the municipality does not want small structures lining the pedestrian street. Karin Isaksson,
in Umeå’s public spaces: that of everyday people, or the municipality bird’s-eye view? What is the town of if not its people?
blog posts. I publish a book with text and photographs of the fight. The book will be sent to the members of the Technical Committee, officials and the media. I arrange a demonstration at Town Hall Square in Umeå. It’s going to be reported on by the largest news agency in Scandinavia, TT; and on the front page of the newspaper Folkbladet. I’m being interviewed on the national radio: Studio 1 is doing a programme about Helmer’s situation. More and more individuals are writing letters to editors and people are starting to get some perspective on Helmer’s struggle. In May 2012, Streets and Parks presents their new aesthetic guidelines for the open-air cafés in Umeå. Many see connections to the issue of municipal hot-dog stands. In the comments sections on websites of local newspapers, there’s irritation about the aesthetic standardization.
In an open trailer, more dirt will be blown in than in a closed. This is pointed out by Olof Häggström, a former chef, in a letter to the editor of the newspaper Västerbotten-Kuriren, 5 April, 2012. He refers to the strict food requirements governing the handling of unpackaged food in catering. He writes: “As I see it, it is difficult to meet these requirements if you have to stand in a biker overall and fur hat in an open trailer that provides basically zero protection against external influences [...] The fact that sausages would be cleaner if you as a consumer could see them, is as absurd as it sounds.” He concludes: “I wholeheartedly support Helmer Holm’s claim that he should be allowed to stand in his own protected vehicle where the above requirements are met.” Christer Paulsson has given courses in Environment and Health at university and is aware of these rules. But rather than acknowledge that the environment for cooking hot-dogs is worse, instead he points an accusing finger at the stand owner. In the same newspaper, 20 March, 2012, he says: “Customers should be able to see how clean and well-ordered it is in the trailer and how food is handled.” He also says: “This is a cultural issue too, hot-dog sellers should not be shut off inside a kiosk. Although, it’s obvious that it is more comfortable to stand inside.” When I read the article, I realize that something is fundamentally wrong.
Helmer paints his trailer light blue. He tells the press that he will defy the municipality by setting up the kiosk in the street during The Night of Culture on May 19 when the new kiosks will become mandatory. Finally, the fight begins to get results. In June, the Technical Committee grants Helmer a dispensation over the summer, for medical reasons. An assessment will be made during the summer, following which a new decision will be taken. As a thank you for all the support he has received, Helmer begins selling vegetarian sausages. I cycle past one evening and buy two. Helmer grills both the sausage and bread. Never have vegetarian sausages tasted so good.
After the summer, the Technical Committee meets again. In an official document, dated September 14, 2012, it can be read that the municipality’s evaluation concluded that the hot-dog stands work well, that they need some protection from the elements and from the ground. Furthermore, it says that no regular customers reacted to the new trailers, but that there have been some “attacks” from some citizens on the use of the trailers, and even some vandalism. The evaluation itself is not available to the public. But it also contains the lines: “The Technical Committee has decided ... that individual’s trailers may be used with the approval of the lessor, if there are legitimate reasons for this.” What reasons are not mentioned. But with his doctor’s certificate Helmer can continue selling sausages in his cosy trailer in the centre. During the winter, another hot-dog seller receives permission to operate from a closed trailer on the centrally located Kungsgatan.
... a lecture about hot-dog stands at the School of Architecture. hot-dog sellers, politicians and designers ...” Should you build hot-dog stands that are open to the elements in one of the coldest cities in the world because it is culturally correct? In a debate article published two days later, also in Västerbotten Kuriren, I urge the Technical Committee to reconsider. In April, Helmer hands over 830 signatures in protest against the municipal hot-dog kiosks to current Chair Lasse Jacobson (Vänsterpartiet) and Vice Chair Stefan Nordström (Moderaterna). Meanwhile, two other members of the Technical Committee are questioned about the matter by the press: “I will not change my mind,” says Lennart Degerliden (Folkpartiet). He explains that it is important that it looks neat and tidy in the pedestrian area between the squares. “It is the most public place we have in Umeå and it must have a certain style.” Andrew Lundgren (Socialdemokraterna) says in the same article that the new trailers must at least be given a trial run. The Committee decides, despite Helmer’s petition, that the trailers should be tested during the summer.
Since May 2009, the hot-dog trailer project has cost the municipality approximately SEK 890 000. The cost of the four trailers alone is around SEK 364 000. The remaining cost relates to the design process and various development costs. The idea is that Olle Salmonsson, together with the company Struktur Design who assisted him in the project, will sell more trailers to prospective buyers. Meanwhile, three hot-dog vendors are renting the open trailers on the pedestrian street at a cost of SEK 1 000 per month.
Helmer and I begin working harder. During the spring of 2012, Helmer’s struggle is the subject of countless articles, news reports, radio shows, letters to the editor and
The Anti-Culturalist Text: Patrik Brännberg Translation: Love Lagerkvist Photo: Anna Kristinsdóttir
I’m one of the ones they call “the anti-culturalists”. A label applied by VK’s [the local newspaper] former culture editor after Arbetarpartiet took clear stance against the Culture Capital Year. Back then (in 2009) our party was more or less the sole critical voice raised against the seven billion of investments promised in the C14 application and its potentially negative effects of the municipal economy. This editor, on the other hand, was one of many rabid voices proclaiming dispose to our stance on the C14 spectacle.
against each other. The bulk cost of the Cultural Centre, about 100 million swedish kronor per year, is in fact financed though cuts in library branches, cultural organisation and the school. It has also become evident that those of us who dared to see Verkligheten, resisting the fantasies of blowing up ice to the chimes of choirs, were the true friends of culture. It really is quite the tragedy that the cost of the municipalities escapism might end up in closed libraries and a latent threat to the regional economy.
What defines high culture? And what then is popular culture? Let’s start out by stating the fact that all different forms of culture place its own requirements on the user. A contemporary top 50 pop song captures the listener in 15 seconds. Classical music on the other hand often requires more in terms of both dedication and knowledge of its audience. Obviously there needs to be room for both high and popular culture. As accessible radio hits often find successful commercial channels, society should rather support the symphony orchestra.
There are times when you’d wished to be proven wrong. Editors Note: Patrik Brännberg is currently working as a substitute in the city council and is part of Arbetarpartiet, an Umeå based socialist party. Verkligheten is a local art space in Umeå.
The groundwork for both high and popular culture gets established in large part through schooling. The municipal musical academies provides a starting point for both the Roxettes and Pavarottis of the future. The variety creates the edge. That’s why we need to use the city library and the availability of teachers as a foundation of the cultural dialoge. The educational system is the incubator of everything from literacy to your first interaction with classical literature. Some children have parents that stimulate our cultural evolution, some don’t. If the day care staff have the time to sit down and read to the children, this in turn will give birth not only to an interest in the written arts, but also more continence in the own ability. Anxiety towards reading can be replaced with positive literate experience - assuming the recourses are there. The Culture Capital, however, stimulates the so called high or popular culture. It’s a spectacle, a spectacle in unsavoury combination with political prestige and private interest. In the application one can read about the grandiose opening ceremony where the parts of the Umeå River ice would get blown away to the tones of giant choirs and hundreds of reindeers rushing the city center. Add to this the speech about shipping up Bruce Springsteen or Beyoncé to Umeå. And then we haven’t even touched the Cultural Hotel, sorry, the Cultural Centre and its 1 billon swedish kronor price tag. The accusation of “anti-culturalist” stems from how the cultural editors perceiving my standpoint as putting the fine culture, see: the Culture Capital Year, against the municipalities other activities. It is in fact Verkligheten, not Arbetarpartiet, that does this - putting the subjects
SUSTAINABILITY 2015 marks an end and a beginning in a global perspetive. It is the year when the Millennium Development Goals expire and new goals will be set with the same aim to create a better future.
Text: Cecilia Tarandi Illustration: Viktoria Ottosson
The many questions about
These are the eight UN Millennium Goals:
n the turn of the century the UN, with the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, summoned the worlds leader for a discussion about global issues. The meeting in New York in 2000 resulted in a increased notion of a global world, our responsibility to it and a will to achieve a positive change. This created the eight Millennium Development Goals. All with targets - a way to maintain this vision of better world, a concrete way to reach that vision. With statistics and researches they can be evaluated and make it possible to see how far we have come. All these goals are linked to each other in a complex way, they are caused by each other and can be reached by improvements in all fields. It is a long and difficult way to reach these goals, obstacles and unexpected turns all the time. 2015 is getting closer and some goals are not going to be accomplished.
• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger • Achieve universal primary education • Promote gender equality and empower women
• Reduce child mortality • Improve maternal health • Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
• Ensure environmental sustainability • Global partnership for development Material is one factor; it is one element in the determination of the durability of buildings, how long they can stand and their energy consumption. However, one material may not be the most resistant to time or least expensive or the most eco-friendly, and this raises questions on how to prioritise.
Yet, some are. The number people living in extreme poverty and the proportion of people who has no access to drinking water has been halved and the proportion of slum dwellers has declined. As important as it is to see what we have left, what we have to do differently, as important is it to see the positive achievements. Understand that the world is not only war and misery, there are development and steps forward. Failure and achievements can teach us how to do things better and what the new goals should be. Those after 2015.
What is most important? The strength and life-span of it, its capability to keep the energy loss at a minimum? The way it is produced, the effect on environment and the workers and the residents. Then there are other questions as how much energy it consumes during production and the economic cost. However, this should be viewed in a long time- perspective because a high energy loss and high costs at first may be balanced by a low maintenance cost after the construction is finished. At the same time a cheap material now can be the opposite in a few years, to maintain, to repair, to be aesthetic attractive. Time is essential, buildings and cities will last for long - for centuries.
Rio de Janeiro, 2012. The UN held a global meeting which was focusing on sustainable development and post 2015. An urgent and significant field for our future. Together with member countries, the UN is working on new goals - the Sustainable Development Goals. The discussion about these is ongoing, then what is sustainable development?
Material is one important component in sustainable building, so is economy and so is architecture. A building which is sustainable in terms of choice of material and technology may not be it when used in reality, if it is not used and therefore just demolished in the future. Buildings, rooms, are to have a purpose for people and people should want to live, work and exist there. A city, a building, with no connection with the landscape, its surroundings, is it a place where people want to live? If people are not using the building, if it is only an empty shell, is it sustainable?
The Sustainable Development Goals Sustainable development - a vast field with a concept hard to grasp. A complex issue with many factors and stakeholders. In a time where more than half of the human population is living in cities, and that number is expected to reach 70 percent by 2050, there is a need to define sustainable development and the process of building cities with a capacity for this increasing urbanisation. How can we build and make it sustainable? What is sustainable building?
There is also a social factor to sustainability. Architecture with its function and aesthetic appearance is an important tool to make people interact with spaces, make people like and be aware of their surroundings,
connect with it and the buildings. Architecture which is not chained to this time but can last to the next decade and those after. Then the complication is how to make architecture timeless and for people to use it over generations. To make architecture floating on the timeline. The aesthetic part of building should not be limited when it is a great part of how one perceives the places where life is lived. It is important to think of the purpose of the buildings, how people move through them, to see every individual as unique and draw buildings for different lives, not one. The buildings which are sustainable are those which are used, not those which are not, even though they are in a technical and material point of view. At the same time technology and material are important components which with development in each field will bring new possibilities.
To use what already exists This has been about building new, but is not the most sustainable what already exists? To demolish to build new, is it sustainable? To use what we have, change it so it conforms with today. Use the construction, the materials, only parts and make inventions with what we have. An old building can be the place for something new. For example: the old gasometers in red brick in the northern part of Djurg책rden in Stockholm has been standing empty but will now be transformed in to a cultural centre. Pantheon in Rome is still standing and important for the city and for visitors. For me this is sustainability. At the same time there could be a point in building new, if it in the long run will lead up to more efficient buildings. It is a balance between protecting cultural history and creating a museum. To erase the past or to get a fresh start and new possibilities. There are many factors to consider when it comes to sustainable building. How to make it sustainable without losing the soul of space, forgetting those who will live there. Think of sustainability in time. In locations. What is sustainable here may not be that in another part of the world, different needs and conditions, different climates and different culture, they all have an impact on material, technology and architecture. There is not one answer how to build sustainable, it is relative and depends on a range of diverse factors. It changes with time and should not be viewed as something fixed, but as something of great relevance and importance. Sustainable development and building must always be discussed, in the halls of the UN as well as in the public arena. Now and after 2015. It is a discussion with no end.
Illustration: Ida Wressel
IN COLLABORATION WITH:
SPECIAL THANKS: Umeå School of Architecture Umeå Academy of Fine Arts Ung Media Markus Grönlund at Original