Thursday, August 11, 2011

Meet Brad, from AutoCAD

            So after that (mini) flurry of posts about my trip, I've been on hiatus from blogging, because I was doing what the name of this blog implies: going to architecture school.  Yes, I started this past Monday.  Although classes and the semester don't officially start until Monday, August 22, all the 3 year Master of Architecture students have to do a 2 week "boot camp" program to get going/get on the same page/get the lead out, etc.
            It's been a very busy 4 days so far, and it already feels luxurious to be leaving the studio before 8:30 pm, or get home by 9 to have a microwave dinner out of a bag before settling in to a few more hours of computer work.  The work is hard, but my classmates seem like fun people so far.  And I'm super thankful that those students who studied architecture in undergrad are very willing to help little old me figure out some of these dang computer programs (new fangled machines!).
             It will be too complex to attempt to tell you what kind of assignments we've been doing, but I will tell you that I've spent the last 2.5 days or so poring over AutoCAD.  And here is the latest fruit of my labor:  I unknowingly created a little soldier man.  I doubt he is what the professors had in mind when they gave us this assignment, but I like him, and I think he will be my new mascot.
I like to call him AutoCAD Brad.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scandinavian Odyssey, Part 3

the main house at Starnsjunds Slott
We left Jonkoping, Sweden early on a Saturday morning to drive ~400 kilometers NNE to Falun.  We made a few unexpected but very welcome stops along the way.  The first was at Starnsjunds Slott (slott is the Swedish word for mansion/manor).  It was a beautiful estate, on a hill on a bit of a peninsula, so there were views of the water all around.  We had a lovely buffet lunch in the cafe there, then attempted to take a tour, but no English tour was leaving for another hour and we still had a lot of driving to do.
             So back on the road, we were making some more good time, until we spied an IKEA from the highway, and had to make another quick stop.  We learned that Swedish Ikeas are really exactly the same as the ones in America, with the slight exception that the signs were completely un-understandable, as opposed to only being half understandable at home.
an old building (now restaurant),
by the river in Falun
             We finally made it to Falun, which was a very cute town but surprisingly dead for a Saturday night.  We mourned the fact that there was a whole Dalarna Horse museum that we could not visit because again we would have to get on the road early-ish in the morning.
this sign taunted us from the outside of the
Dalarna Horse Museum in Falun
an idyllic scene, in the town of Sundborn
            Our big excursion for the next day was up to Sundborn, where Carl Larsson's house is.  We got there just in time for an English-speaking tour, led by one of Larsson's great-great-grandchildren.  The house was darling on the inside, decorated with all kinds of colors and patterns, very similar to my own decorating style.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside, so a few from the outside will have to suffice here.
the front of the Carl Larsson house, where it looks like Christmas all year long.
            We followed up our Carl Larsson excursion with an overnight in our final small(ish)-town in Sweden, Vasteras.  If we had thought that Falun was dead on a Saturday night, then Vasteras showed us that Sunday nights can be even deader.  We walked around the town in search of an open restaurant, and ended up back at the one in the hotel.  We did see and read a lot of things that made us want to stick around the next day to explore Vasteras while things were open, however the following morning was rainy, and we just didn't have the strength.
great sculpture in the square in front of our hotel, in Vasteras:
workers biking to their jobs.

If you would like to see the rest of my pictures from these small towns in Sweden, please click here.  On to Stockholm!  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Scandinavian Odyssey, Part 2

mom with our favorite statue in Boras, visible from our hotel room window: the man in the river.
After leaving Copenhagen, my mom and I took a quick, smooth train ride to Malmo, Sweden, to begin the Swedish leg of our trip.  Malmo looked like a great town, but unfortunately we didn't get to explore it.  Instead we picked up our rental car at the nearby Avis office, and headed north to Boras, Sweden.  Boras was an adorable town.  Cobblestone streets, a river running lazily through the middle of the town, and there was a wonderful display of sculptures everywhere over the town.  In spite of a rainy visit, we enjoyed walking around finding some of these sculptures:
stone seats in the town square - from the display a few years ago, but so loved
by the locals that they got together to buy the seats.  They double as a sundial. 
very cute statue of a little boy in his rain suit.
me and some bunny
mom, trying to get the best
picture of the model factory.

The reason for our visit to Boras was to tour the Textile Museum, which is in an old textile factory, as Boras used to be a major hub of the Swedish textile industry.  We enjoyed a practically-hands-on tour of some of the machines in the museum, including a machine that made socks (note: they are auto-sewn with 2 heels; one becomes the toe and the other remains a heel).  Our favorite part of the museum wasn't a machine at all, however, but the dollhouse-type model of the old working factory, with the entire top floor visible, and full of wooden people constructing blazers.  
factory workers, hard at it.

Another thing we liked at the textile museum was the display of the local art university's graduates' final projects.  Some great and some crazy designs including wallpaper, fashion, fabrics, rugs, and more.
an oriental inspired rug, but if you look closely, you'll see this one
has guns and boom-boxes incorporated into the pattern.
clotheslines filled with this senior's beautiful, colorful fabrics.  
Great stop, now on to Jonkoping, another very cute, pedestrian-friendly town about in the center of Sweden (east to west) and right at the lower tip of Vattern Lake.  We found out too late that it was right next to Husqvarna, which housed a sewing museum of sorts.  Unfortunately, we couldn't make last-minute plans to visit it because the opening hours did not work with our intense driving schedule for the next day, but we did get to wander around the town.  We walked out to the dock by the lake, which is mostly obscured by a huge breakwater (or something), but there are benches and makeshift steps where people can climb to sit on top of it and enjoy the massive view.  There were few people with a guitar and a harmonica up there while we were wandering around, playing Tom Petty songs in very foreign accents.  
climbing in the breakwater in Jonkoping
We enjoyed a very nice Friday evening in Jonkoping, with perfect weather and rested up for our long drive the next day . . .

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scandinavian Odyssey, part 1

Yes, I've been away from my computer for over a month, but that's not because I didn't have anything Future Architect-worthy going on.  On the contrary, I was out gathering inspiration and experience.  For months, my mom and I had been planning what we were calling a "design tour" of Scandinavia.
            As you know, I am interested in architecture, yes, but if you've spent any time reading my other blog, you also know that I am interested in crafts, sewing, etc., all of which can be inspired by things we would see over there.  I get all that craftiness from my mother.  In the past, she has done lots of projects like needlepoint (some of which she bought over in Scandinavia, when she and my father lived there for a year back in the '70's) as well as weaving a Rya Rug, which we will revisit when I get to talking about the Finnish part of the trip.  Her main interest these days is weaving.  She has a full-sized loom in her home and I have been the happy recipient of many scarves, dish towels, etc. that she has made over the past few years.

            On July 9, my mother and I flew out of Boston over to Copenhagen, making a stop-over in Reykjavik.  Over the 3 weeks following, we toured the city of Copenhagen, some small towns in southern Sweden, Stockholm, a few towns in Finland, and finally ended up in Helsinki.  I got back to Chicago about a week ago and have been very busy with preparations for my architecture program (which starts in 3 days!) but it looks like I'm finally getting around to showing off a bit of what we were up to, out there in the Nordic countries.

just one of many spires we looked up to
Our first major design theme in Copenhagen was the spires on all of the churches and public buildings around the city.  We walked around a lot, especially on the first day, when we couldn't yet get in to our hotel room, and just photographed buildings.  Everywhere we looked, there was a spire worth photographing, and by the end of the visit we got to climb one, at Our Savior's Church, about 400 steps to the top.
Our Savior's Church tower
            It was a cold and rainy day, and the last 100 or so stairs were outside, on metal steps, but we braved it anyway, and the view over the city was well worth it.  I'm not showing it to you here for 2 reasons: 1) no single picture I took satisfied me as being representative of the huge view, and 2) climb the tower your damn self!
Nyhavn, early Sunday morning, without any
of the usual hustle and bustle.
            Another thing I liked a lot about Copenhagen was the Nyhavn area.  It has flourished in spite of its sordid past (yes, it was the red light district once upon a time), and the very clean, simple, bright colors on the buildings are visually interesting, yet calming, even in an area flooded with tourists and people drinking outdoors.  We found ourselves back on this street a number of times: for a wonderful 3 course prix fixe dinner the first night, to enjoy a beer with a friend of a friend who lives in Copenhagen on the second night, then to catch a boat for a tour of the city from the water on our last day there.  Each time we were there, I took many pictures, but the one I put here is my first view of it, when nobody was around and it felt like ours alone.
Future Architect Wicky, with matching elephant.
            On display through the end of August, there is an "elephant parade" in Copenhagen.  At the end of the "parade" all of the elephants will be auctioned off for charity.  Now, I've always thought that displays like these in many different cities were a little kitschy, but I must admit that being a tourist and getting to see these guys all over the city is a lot of fun.  There was also a small store set up inside Illums Bolighus (my new favorite department store) where you could buy models of the elephants.  I really don't know how I made it home without one.
At the Design Museum: chairs designed by Hans J. Wegner,
the siblings of the dining chairs I grew up with.
            We saw a few really good museums while we were in Copenhagen.  The first one was the Dansk Design Center, which we enjoyed, but didn't get to see all of it because the whole city was semi-shut down due to water damage from some incredible rains they had had a few weeks before we arrived.  We also went to the Design Museum, which had rooms full of Danish design chairs, in particular.
a surprisingly topographical building model, at the
Danish Architecture Center.
            We also visited the Danish Architecture Center (each of the cities we toured on our trip had a museum of Architecture: amazing, but not surprising).  The two main exhibits going on at the time were about using design to improve life in Copenhagen and throughout Denmark (really, that's what the point of design is, right?).  The first room had many models of buildings that have recently been built, or are about to be built, and explanations of what they are, how they will be used, what's new/different about them, etc.  The second room had a -mostly video- exhibit about improvements in nearby areas, interviewing residents about what they like about an area, or what needs to be improved.  The whole exhibit was called "what makes a livable city."
            And with all of the bikes and primarily pedestrian streets in Copenhagen, I would definitely say that it is, indeed, a livable city.  Mom and I had a great time there, and it was a very good starting point for our Scandinavian Tour.

If you would like to see more pictures from my trip, brace yourself!  Click here to see pictures from the first half or so of our time in Copenhagen, and then click here to see the rest of Copenhagen, and some of Sweden, which will be discussed in my next post!