Tag archives for Umeå

Valborg, första maj och Gijrra.

To celebrate Valborg take one part Swedish reservation, two parts alcohol, and mix thoroughly with a generous helping of bonfires and barbeques.

Whilst in Germany Walpurgis Nacht is when witches were said to gather for their annual general meeting (say what you will, those are some well organised satanic servants) and welcome the coming of spring, Valborg is when the Swedes traditionally celebrated the end of the administrative year (…coincidence?) with a spring festival. Whereas the larger – and warmer – student cities of Lund and Uppsala celebrate with a champagne breakfast on the lawn, followed by extensive drinking and excessive partying around huge bonfires, celebrations up here are somewhat more subdued.

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Umeå Open 2014 & wood workshop.

Spring is well and truly here. The ice on the river is a distant memory, a few of the hardier plants can be seen sprouting, the sun has even – just occasionally – come out and made it possible to lunch outside and enjoy oneself, not freeze. However, let us catch up on the last few weeks, in which:

- our cohort built timber staircases without the aid of nails, screws, or glues

- festival madness visited in the form of Umeå Open

- both of the previous points occurred in the same week, followed by

- preliminary presentations (I still wake in a cold sweat)


And so – belatedly – Umeå Open!

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North of the wall.

Last weekend, on a whim, a few friends and I piled into a car and drove north for an adventure.


One of the truly remarkable things about Umeå is its proximity to the sea, lakes, and forest: in short, the amazing possibilities to engage with nature whilst there. One of the other incredible things is how close it is to the Arctic Circle and Lapland – only a few hours by car, as we put to the test.

Arctic Circle.

Our intrepid exploration team finally reach the Arctic Circle. Photograph courtesy of Chris Voss – http://chrisvossphoto.tumblr.com/

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And thus Umeå2014 begins!

Crown princess Victoria and prince Daniel visit UMA. Photograph property of UMU.

Well, what a month it’s been. Following on from the Swedish winter games, Umeå was officially inaugurated as European Capital of Culture 2014 on February 1st with Burning Snow and the presence of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria and family – visiting, on crutches (courtesy of a recent ski trip) but smiling nonetheless, the Umeå School of Architecture!

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Gott nytt år!

I honestly expected Mister Tumnus to come bounding out of the trees at any moment.

I honestly expected Mister Tumnus to come bounding out of the trees at any moment.


Happy New Year and Happy Spring Term to all: as of the 17th, I have officially completed my first term in Sweden!


Of course, this being Sweden, there was no time for resting on laurels and we were back at university on the 20th starting afresh for the spring term with the promise of longer, brighter days looming large (I’ve been assured that the ‘concise’ vacation is a purely architectural phenomenon as we lack exams and all the unscheduled time they warrant). On the other hand, starting today we of the Laboratory for Sustainable Architectural Production at UMA will spend the week collaborating with students from Miroslaw Balka Studio of Spatial Activities at the Polish Academy of Fine Arts. Working in ice and snow, we will create installation pieces for the inauguration of Umeå as European Capital of Culture 2014!

(more information on the inauguration can be found here)


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