28 May 2009

the arctic = rorbuer :: dried cod :: sea kayaking :: midnight sun

I spent the past week on an unbelievable trip to Lofoten, in Northern Norway, 1000km or so north of Oslo. Lofoten is an archipelago, north of the Arctic Circle, at the 67th and 68th degree parallels. There are seven main islands with a total of 24,000 inhabitants (we spent a majority of our time on Moskenesøy).

North of the arctic circle you say? The weather is actually quite mild due to the warm Gulf Stream. I would guess the temperature was between 6-11°C in the daytime. We left Lofoten just before the time of the true midnight sun, which is above the horizon from around May 27 to July 17. We experienced the 11:30pm sun, which I can assure you is equally as amazing. In the winter, from December 4 to January 7, the sun does not rise at all, referred to as polar nights.

There is almost too much to recount from our adventures on this trip. I will include some entries from my daily log to sum up.

Wednesday May 20, 2009 Oslo to Bodø
Wake up around 6am after 2-4 hour of sleep. Take the tram at 6:35am. Walk to the bus station downtown to catch 7:15am bus to Rygge Airport (120NOK). After a short flight arrive in Bodø. We take a taxi (115 NOK) to campground. Rent a cabin in Bodø at Bodøsjøen Camping, about 3km from the airport, close to Saltenfjord. It is foggy, green and misty. Walk to shopping center for lunch/dinner/breakfast materials. Later the sun comes out and I can see the snowy mountain peaks. Go for a walk to downtown Bodø. Bodø (city of the sea eagle), population 46,000 has an extremely underutilized waterfront and we are not impressed with the downtown.
Have dinner at the cabin: salmon with vegetables.

Thursday May 21, 2009 Bodø to Å (Moskenes øya, Lofoten)
After a nice breakfast we pack up and head to the ferry dock around 3pm. Catch the 4:30 ferry to Moskenes. As we near Lofoten the sun breaks through the clouds and bathes the grey blue jagged mountains in bright yellow light. Arrive in the arctic around 8:30pm. The town surrounding the ferry dock is quite dead, we take a taxi van with several other travelers to Å (a small village with the name of the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet). The small village consists of a cluster of red clapboard rorbuer (fisherman's cabins), a small supermarket, bakery and a few museums for tourists. Check out a hostel, decide to camp instead. Hike up past the drying racks of cod and find a mostly flat spot to camp. A light rain begins as we pitch our tent. Upon discovering the grocery store is closed we eat lettuce with pear out of a bag, classy and resourceful. We have dinner at 10pm under bright skies.

Friday May 22, 2009 Å
I open the tent to a sunny, beautiful day overlooking the fjord to the southeast and mainland Norway far in the distance. We have breakfast (brødshiver, yogurt) on a rock overlooking the small collection of houses in Å. Walk into the small town in the afternoon for groceries and postcards. Have cookies and coffee on a picnic bench.
Head out on a hike at 2pm. We walk west and climb until we can see clear to the ocean to the northwest. Reach the summit around 5pm- absolutely beautiful. A muddy walk back. Attempt to grill salmon on an engangsgrill for dinner- to marginal success.

Saturday May 23, 2009 Å to Reine / Hamnøy
Sonder of Reine Adventure picks us up at bus stop in Å at 2pm. Immediately we can tell Sonder and friend Trevor are great guys, helpful, knowledgeable and fun. Sonder gives us a ride to his business in Reine, 14km from Å.
Head out for some kayaking at 3pm. At 4:30pm the sun begins to shine and the water is the most unbelievable shades of blue- similar only to the colors I’ve seen in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Dock the kayaks and grocery shop. Chat with Sonder for a bit, he shows us pictures of his expeditions in Morocco.
Have guacamole, pizza and beers at our rorbu (fisherman’s cabin) in Hamnøy (Eliassen Rorbuer)

Sunday May 24, 2009 Hamnøy to Utakleiv
Have a leisurely breakfast: an omelette followed by a few hands of Euchre.
I walk down to the water and around the rorbuer. The colors are brilliant- the red and ochre of the rorbuer, blue sky and grey green craggy mountains. We pack up and head to reception around 2pm. We receive some great advice from the man working there as we are deciding on our plans. We take a rowboat out for a bit.
We depart for Lofoten Rent a car. Have lunch (fish burger and a coke) outside at a picnic table. Explore the fish drying racks. Head out on a beautiful drive along the E10. Hit the breaks as we enter Ramberg and discover the most amazing white sand beach. Stop at a JVA railing project along the road. Have dinner at La Dolce Vita. I have pesto and shrimp pasta. We have espresso, dessert and play cards in big comfortable chairs. As we continue on our drive the light turns warm around 10pm. We take a long walk along the water near a campsite, watching the nearly-midnight sun. We choose a campsite, but decide to move after a man in a tractor comes by to point out falling rock. Pitch our tents again closer to the water.

Monday May 25, 2009 Utakleiv to Hamnøy
Make a quick exit out of Utakleiv at noon after a night of wind and rain. Head to the ‘commercial center’, Leknes. Have pastries and coffee at a Bakeri. Make plans for next two days- decide to all return to Reine and stay at the Eliassen Rorbuer. It is a miserable day weather wise and we are all tired. Grocery shop and pile back into the ‘fish car’ to head to Reine. It pours down rain. The sky is a smoky grey. There are small white caps in the water, dark grey green mountains rising behind with white pickets of snow.
Back in Reine at the rorbuer we have a delicious dinner of white fish, mashed potatoes, salad, white wine.

Tuesday May 26, 2009 Hamnøy to Evenes
Pack up and leave the rorbu to catch bus to Svolvær. Stop in Lekenes briefly.
Stop in Svolvær for a few hours. The ‘commercial center’ is much nicer than Lekenes. We head to a mall for lunch. Brødshiver: shrimp, avocado, brie on rolls.
Bus from Svolvær to Evenes airport, four-hour ride.
We attempt to change our flight to this evening.
Camp on a rocky patch of ground in a field near the airport.
Have brødshiver in the tent, play some Euchre.

Wednesday May 27, 2009 Evenes to Oslo
The rock fields ends up to be the best night of camping we’ve had yet.
Pack up and head to the airport at 10am. Return to Oslo, so grateful to have seen such a beautiful part of the world.

18 May 2009

1814_syttende mai

The big day has arrived. The Norwegian Constitution Day, syttende mai, meaning May seventeenth. This national holiday celebrates the day, in 1814, that Norway was declared an independent nation. At that time Norway was under Swedish rule. I feel so lucky to have celebrated this day in Oslo. I think I will forever remember this day with the following feelings and images: happiness, flags, the color red, bunads, warmth.

We started the day with a classy brunch at Åsengata. Guests arrived around 10am. We had wonderful food, champagne, wine. The girls looked wonderful in their bunads. At 2:30pm we headed to the sunny courtyard before walking to Trikkestallen. Later we headed to downtown Oslo on the tram. Karl Johans gate was packed with people, marching bands and everywhere Norwegian flags. At 4pm we headed up to the fortress- the weather was absolutely perfect: nearly 70degrees F, blue skies and a slight breeze. We sat, looking over the fjord and Aker Byrgge, sharing a few beers. Onto a rooftop bar at the design-y First Hotel Grims Grenka
by Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter. We all enjoy the scene and lay around drinking our (expensive) beers. It was such a wonderful day!

13 May 2009

Oslo Rådhus

Today we explored some areas of downtown Oslo between the waterfront and Grunerløkka. After a great morning coffee with friends at Stock Fleth, we headed to the Pipervika area in central downtown. Sitting in a nice, ordered garden next to the Oslo City Hall (Oslo Rådhus) I decided I do like the decorated, red brick building. I’ve read it was voted the Oslo’s “Structure of the Century” in 2005 and is the location of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony annually (convenient as David Adjaye’s Nobel Peace Center is located diagonally across the Rådhusplassen). The building, by architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson, with its twin towers of red brick, offer a background for fountains and sculptures by Norwegian artists. The buildings immediately surrounding are restricted in height, so as to not compete with the City Hall.

10 May 2009

Norwegians do cabins well.

This weekend we headed to Ane's cabin in Hvaler, close to the border of Sweden. The cabin is about 120km from Oslo, around 2 hours drive. The cabin is ungoing some work by Ane & family, but is perfect for a weekend away. Friday night we have shrimp for dinner - Norwegian style- on bread with mayo, guacamole and lettuce. Share white wine, beers and laughs. Later we have whiskey and tequila in the candlelight. Ane and Martin have a dance party at 4am as the sun comes up. On Saturday we go ut på tur, grill on the deck and enjoy the beautiful weather and views. Early Sunday morning I wake to an incredible thunderstorm. We have waffles for lunch (apparently this is common practice, fine with me!) on the porch in the sunshine.

08 May 2009

back where Ane comes from_Blaker

We arrive in Blaker after a pretty train ride from Oslo. Ane and dog, Lasse, greet us at the train stop. We have a lovely dinner with Ane's mother, Kristin, and father, Arild. We have moose, potatoes and salad. Take a beautiful walk after dinner with Lasse. Have coffee, ice cream and cake while looking at the family's photos. I can't tell if it's the quiet of the countryside or the calm of a parent's home- but I don't want to leave!

06 May 2009

Architecture is made for us_thesis thoughts

My thesis topic centers around time and use. Or more specifically, buildings designed with a long life in mind and ever-changing use. I initially proposed my thesis topic to be 'Adaptive Architecture: Sustainability, Flexibility by design'. I am interested in challenging the convention of new construction and understanding the value of building reuse. Through my research in Scandinavia and in Seattle I hope to uncover answers to the following questions:
How can a building be designed to adapt?

As users and functions change, how does design and construction 'give' to change?
How does the reuse of the existing built fabric contribute to issues of sustain
ability, both environmental and cultural?

It is my intention that the thesis project will analyze and implement design strategies that can increase building flexibility and begin to understand the cultural/environmental value in building longevity.

With all this in mind, I have begun to ask myself, "Who is architecture made for?" Is it made for us, right now? Is it made for future generations? Is it made for architectural magazines, or critics? As I was mulling this over I came across the following poem by Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano. It answered my question perfectly: Architecture is made for us.

A Rose With Teeth

Who is architecture made for? What sort of person, if that is not too much to define at this stage? Does it matter? For children, for old people, for the blind, f
or the fat, for the introverted, for people with high heels, for people who spit on the ground, for 40 year olds, for peoplewithapoliticaloutlook, for our mother, for friend of Catulus, for people whohaveneverreadawholebook, for exiles, for us? , for Leonard Zelig?
That we are sure of: for us. Us reading, u
s eating, us hurting....

05 May 2009

Jensen Skodvin

(this photo by Megan Schoch)

Here are a few images from Jensen Skodvin's Sinsen Metro Station, just a few blocks from my apartment.

04 May 2009

uncertainty and curiosity.

Time for some reading and researching at AHO. I feel right at home in Ane’s studio- surrounded by models, trace and prismas! I feel especially lucky that when I decide to ‘take a break’ and wander around AHO I am studying the adaptive reuse work of Jarmund/Vigsnæs (Ane has just been hired for a position in JVA’s office for the summer and fall!). I spend the day in the library pulling out books and articles on adaptive reuse and the influence of time on buildings. As usual, I am inspired by the incredible writing of Juhani Pallasmaa. Today I read from Encounters:

“In this regard, I could say that I do not believe that one could, or even should, plan one’s life; life is an open-ended process where one thing leads to the next, and the most enjoyable and rewarding moments are the ones that you never imagined in advance. This applies also to design work and writing
; the joy does not arise from doing things you know, but from discovering things you have never considered. I feel that there is too much sentimentality over creative freedom. In my view, living and working is more a matter of seeing your way through from one impulse to the next, maintaining your basic sense of uncertainty and curiosity ….that enables you to move in any direction.”

Reading this I felt as Juhani was writing just to me, here in Norway, experiencing this amazing opportunity. As I am working through ideas of my architecture thesis ‘from one impulse to the next’ I am constantly reminded of keeping my uncertainty
and curiosity. I am ever grateful to the Valle Scholarship for giving me the chance to live out this time of creative freedom and discovery.

Ane works on her studio project, a crematorium.

01 May 2009

from A to Å

Whether it be on a walk (ut på tur !), while having brødskiver or over long dinner conversations I have been immersing myself in learning about Norway. Looking back on my first few weeks I find the informal conversations regarding health care, education, language, geography and politics have taught me an unbelievable amount already. Norwegians are so enthusiastic and willing to discuss Norway’s history, environment and language. Although I have been reading and researching it has really been the wealth of knowledge from Norwegian friends and new acquaintances that has provided me with invaluable lessons. After a particularly lively and informative discussion of the Sami people, the sound “sj” or “kj” makes, or the bunad worn on syttede mai, Ane will exclaim, “That’s at least half of credit for the UW!”

An American friend and UW graduate, David, is now living and working here in Norway. Between David and Ane I’ve gained a great base in Norwegian language studies. They have both been especially patient as I practice the three new vowels. I realize now I can understand basic speech and will sometimes find myself eavesdropping in a café or on the tram- just to test myself! Learning the intonation and lilting quality of Norwegian speech has been particularly fascinating. Everyday acts as simple as reading street signs and menus are becoming so much more effortless- feels like progress! In the evenings I have been listen
ing to two different conversational Norwegian programs. I enjoy falling asleep to the introductory phrases ‘Hei! Hva heter du?’ and ‘Hvordan kommer jeg til togstasjonen?’ I dream of å, ø and æ !