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Hage: article two

We have a period of five years before residents move in to the first homes in Råängen. This gives us an opportunity to activate Hage through a programme of partnerships, events and projects, testing how the space can work and developing links with local community groups. In 2022, we invited Byggstudio, a Norwegian-Swedish design office run by Sofia Østerhus and Hanna Nilsson, to devise a year-long programme of activities and events with local people, schools, Lund University, and arts organisations in Lund to begin this process.

The programme, called PLAY AND RESEARCH, focused on ‘play’ as an opportunity to experiment and take risks. Play is a state of mind which often involves the distancing of the self from the constructs of everyday life. The Råängen programme as a whole is about play, risk, and experimentation – it is a neighbourhood that is yet to materialise; we are launching ourselves into a future imaginary and learning from discovery. This is a state that is close to meditation and prayer, which acts as a bridge to the theological underpinning of Lund Cathedral.

Although play is often associated with the activities of children, our programme didn’t focus exclusively on this group. Adults and young people are just as capable, if a little more distanced, from practices of play. The ‘research’ element of the programme emphasises this, and created a platform for activity that considers research as a form of play. As part of this programme, we joined up with Lunds konsthall and Wanås Konst to organise a bike tour around public artworks designed for play in Lund; a guided walk and discussion about memory, art and play at Wanås Konst; and a seminar at Lunds konsthall about play spaces for children, with the following speakers:

Gabriela Burkhalter, Curator of the Playground Project
Luca Frei, artist
Åsa Nacking, Director, Lunds konsthall
Elisabeth Millqvist, Artistic Director, Wanås Konst
Jake Ford, White Arkitekter
Hans Carlsson, artist and curator
Lena Sjöstrand, Chaplain, Lund Cathedral

Drawing on activist play happenings of the 1960s and 70s, Byggstudio’s programme provided a space for messy experimentation based on freedom of expression and bodily involvement. Challenging the current trend of highly controlled, overly designed environments for children, their programme offered opportunities for feral play and wild experimentation. The ideal play environment for children is one that is constantly changing – in a perpetual state of unfinishedness – to allow for organic growth and development.

There is a deficiency of play areas for children that offer opportunities for unprogrammed, unruly play, especially in newly planned areas. In the Råängen process, you have the chance to give children the space and place they need, due to the value-driven aims of the Cathedral.

Byggstudio organised a series of workshops for primary school and pre-school children at Östratorns and Solbjers schools in Brunnshög in partnership with students at LTH University and X-Lab, a makerspace at Lund University, who built solar panels together with the children for the events. These workshops and public events provided an opportunity for adults, children and students to play with materials that were to hand (including mud, water, sun and wind) and to think about the character and properties of Hage as well as the opportunities offered by renewable energy. Participants were invited to bring biodegradable objects that were buried in the soil and to make clay vessels with ceramicist Pernilla Norrman, solar-powered water fountains, and earth mounds.

This programme of activity will inform the larger Råängen project, providing an important consideration of the voices and needs of children in a new community. It may be many years before we see connections between this programme and the next iteration of the plan. We have consciously employed a long-term perspective which involves asking questions and learning from the process.

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Photos by Peter Westrup

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