The Vibrant ArkDes
Very exciting to arrive to the main city of Sweden, I took the plane from Spain on the 15th of January to Stockholm-Arlanda and traveled from a 20ºC temperate winter in my hometown, Valencia, to a -11ºC real winter in the cold capital. The first day, marvelous Monica Sand introduce me to the fist secondment institution, the non-academic partner ArkDes.
The Swedish National Center for Architecture and Design is located in Skeppsholmen, a small island in the center of the archipelago. The institution shares building (and extension, designed by Rafael Moneo in 1991) with Moderna Museet and just in front of it, the Royal Institute of Art is located. This combination together with the gardens surrounded with Calder mobiles and Picasso sculptures, creates a very special artistic environment.
The institution is now in a period of changes. Kieran Long (ex-editor of Architects Journal or Architectural Review) is the new director. He is trying to give some fresh air to the institution focusing on more contemporary issues related to the architecture and design world. Due to that, permanent exhibition will be changed and consequently all the pedagogic programs. Arriving in this boiling period is being very interesting and instructive for me: in our meetings with the curators they explain next exhibitions and in the ones with the educationalists they show how to prepare all their educational programs. But the highlight of ArkDes, I would say, is its archive. They store four million documents from every Swedish architect or designer. It is fascinating to walk around there and see original drawings or sketches from, for example, Alvar Aalto, Sigurd Lewerentz or my favorite one: Ralph Erskine. The library is remarkable as well, they have collected books from the architects so you can see what Gunnar Asplund had in his personal library, for example.
Therefore, in contrast with calm Karlskrona, Stockholm seems to offer a wide range of activities. This week (my second week here) I will attend the Research Week at the Royal Institute of Arts where workshops and lectures are planned and next week we will go to Konstfack Research Week. Libraries, museums and galleries are also very interesting temptations to explore.
However, cold is difficult. Since the very first day of my arrival, it was snowing. Snow makes everything homogeneous: roads, sidewalks and green zones merge into a sort of tabula-rasa that gives an extra charming image for the news at town (especially if you are from a snowless city as I am). But at some point, it will melt and the real colors and textures will emerge. For now, it seems that we should wait to see how Stockholm is built.
More info about ArkDes: https://arkdes.se/en/
About Research Weeks:
Text and photo: Andrea Gimeno