I meant to put this in my last post but forgot! Sunrise 8:08AM, Sunset 5:34PM. I am very interested to see these numbers change, especially when I travel north to Norway…

After I took a day to get myself settled into my dorm and gotten myself a bike in Malmö I decided to use the free time I had until meet with my adviser to check out some local cities. What is so amazing about many European towns, but especially Scandinavia, is how quickly the city disappears into a rural landscape, and how accessible everything is by bike!

The photo below is from my excursion to Malmö when I bought my bike: I was able to bike from the center of Malmö along a highway with a DEDICATED BIKE LANE, and in 20 minutes I was in the countryside, and in 35 minutes I was back in Alnarp. There were signs the entire way indicating the direction and distance to towns along the system of bike paths.

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Ride back from Malmo with my new bike!

My next excursion was to Lund, but I had read about a little town on the way called Hjärup, which had a development called Jakriborg. So some of my housemates and I set out for about 15 minutes on another rural highway path.

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Bike gang
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Country highway bike path

I did not know much about the town before visiting, other than the small comment on TripAdvisor that it was a funny stopover on the way to Lund. It appeared to be a medieval city with small alleyways, an apartment building that looked as if it used to be a stable, and a large central square paved with beautiful cobblestones.

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Odd edge condition with ‘medieval buildings’ and a paved parking lot and road
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For some reason, some kind of fortress wall….

However, you might be struck by the absence of life in these photos. There were little gangs of school-age children rolling through the town, but the cobblestones, storefronts, architecture are very pristine and homogeneous. And yes, it is not ‘medieval’ at all, it is a pastiche of Scandinavian middle-ages town plopped down next to the Hjärup regional rail station. Many of the storefronts are eerily devoid of businesses, but have signs out front indicating that at one point there was a furniture store, and a bird clinic (?!). A few small cafes, a grocery store, and a Thai massage and traditional medicine practice seem to be thriving.

My housemates in the landscape architecture program here told me that while the design is cute and people who live here love it, the buildings were not built well and that there are problems with heating and moisture in the walls as compared with the contemporary standard of construction in Sweden. This article illuminates that the construction was done inexpensively, and likely accounts for the quality of the building. What do you think of this type of New Urbanism? Is it a fun way to play with density? Should the buildings have been more efficient? Why aren’t businesses thriving here?

I enjoyed the opportunity to sit on a cafe patio overlooking the ‘main square’, enjoy a salad and sketch the quirky buildings. However, the project was constructed in the late 1990s and originally housed about 300 families — now there are over 500! Apparently they have an excellent Christmas market, which I will have to return to visit.

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Close to transit! (Weird ‘fortress wall’ to the right)

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Looking fierce
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My attempt at sketching the center square
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