[au]outpost notes

Brian Betsill just sent us this message:

Greetings from the [au]outpost in Lund, Sweden. I am spending six months in this Nordic neighborhood while my wife does research with a group at Lund University as part of her sabbatical. Thanks to the partners at [au]workshop for granting me the opportunity to take this time to work away from the office.

So the new ‘office’ is in the heart of a Scandinavian university town. And in many ways Lund is like our hometown of Fort Collins. It is of similar size (if you count the student population). It has a similar vibe and energy based on the comings-and-goings of the university students: loud(er) and later passersby on the sidewalk on the weekends, a bustling outside the coffee shop-cum-evening bar with the cheapest beer in town, gyms crowded with very fit 20-year olds. And there are numerous fast food establishments, albeit more of the kebab/falafel/pizza slice variety than the burger-and-fries type.

At the same time it is a very different town than the fort by the river. Lund is medieval—a 10th century church settlement centered around a grand cathedral. In 1104 it was established as the archbishopric of Denmark (it subsequently changed hands and became part of Sweden) and became the center of Christianity throughout the Nordic countries. Parts of the wall that separated the town from the masses are still present. The streets are cobbled, and narrow, and winding; far different than our regular, repeating and unending Jeffersonian grid.

The sun and the seemingly always pleasant weather of Colorado are two things certainly missed. Being as far north as the Hudson Bay the days are very short this time of year; A sun fully risen by nine is gone before four. As opposed to the constantly changing weather and temperatures back home, monitoring weather is unnecessary; it is invariably +1ºC and heavily overcast. The Swedes say that it will be nice come May! 

But differences aside, what I enjoy about this medieval cathedral town is the circuitous streets that beg exploring and the best way to do this is on foot.  It is rewarding to spend time mid-day (the lighted hours) wandering lanes and passages and finding yourself self in a small courtyard with a little café, taking the opportunity for fika, a Swedish coffee break with breads and sweets. It is the scale of the urban fabric, the streets and squares, that is so inviting.  The streets were originally footpaths so they have a meandering quality, and they are scaled for the pedestrian not the automobile. The squares were designed to accommodate the citizens of a small town, not a auto-centric city; they are carved out of the fabric as opposed to plunked in the middle of it. It is these quaint qualities that I look forward to exploring in the coming months and hopefully establishing some regular haunts as well.

 Lund Sweden in late January  ( photo by Isabel Betsil  l )

Lund Sweden in late January  (photo by Isabel Betsill)

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