17 September 2010

Ode to Colorado!

As many of you know, Erica and I took a trip to the Rocky Mountains just about a month ago. Here are some of our favorite pictures from our experience. We had a great time and the trip proved to be a great thing for our relationship. I love the girl.

Second night at the Rockies, hike around the lake.

Erica had a few comments about this one.

The cabin we stayed at night three.

During one of our hikes day three.

Beautiful view of Bear's Lake. 7-mile hike day three.

The cabin we stayed at night four. This one has a story!

On the gondola in Telluride. Thank you Gary and Donna for your hospitality!

A storm was a coming!

The rainbow after the storm...first full rainbow I've ever seen...

We saw many elk on our trip. This was shortly after we saw a moose.

So close to Arizona. Could you tell by the landscape change?

11 September 2010

How many meters are you?

A couple of funny stories from last night at Fredag Bar.

One shorter Danish girl asked me how many meters I was. I was confused so I responded, "Do you mean how tall am I?" She said yes. And I responded, 6'5". She informed me that I was in Europe now and needed to convert to the metric system. So someone got out their phone and we made the conversion. And for the record, I am 1.96 meters.

A few moments after, more shorter Europeans were commenting on my height. One said, "You are kind of like a landmark. Where should we meet up? Oh, we'll just meet up at Brett."

10 September 2010

I think I'll go with LANDSKAB...

This past Wednesday evening the international students went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Louisiana, Denmark. The museum exhibitions included original works of Andy Warhol, photographs and stories from the French female artist Sophie Calle, and many other traditional and modern Danish works of art (http://www.louisiana.dk/dk.) I really enjoyed Calle’s work, which focused on the idea of people, time and space. Her subjects were often not aware that she was essentially stalking them to document their life. The photographs were extremely interesting in terms of how unique each of us carry on with everyday activities, without ever knowing or realizing the simplest of our actions. I also appreciated the abstract and aggressive paintings of Asger Jorn, a Danish painter who is famous for his painting, Dead Drunken Danes. The best part of the Museum was its extension to the outdoor Sculpture Garden which provided beautiful views across the ocean over to Sweden.

Thursday morning Department 1 had critiques for our first project, a short introduction exercise to get us thinking and experimenting for the semester. The department continually stresses to think outside of the box and to be everything but modest, and as one of the professors said it best, “Give loss to your longings.” I can already tell it will be a great semester to push the limits and explore the profession - through media and conceptual design. After the day of discussion, I went to a lecture about Copenhagen’s urban design history and then went to the bike (cykel) shop because my chain had broken early that day. All is fixed, and I am off again biking through and exploring the city! The evening concluded with a dinner hosted by Department 1, during which I had the opportunity to meet more Danes within my department, eat some more interesting Danish food, and drink some more Danish beer.

At the critique Torsdag morning - after we put all our proposals together.

Some of the great classroom and working spaces at the Academy.

Good discussion during Department 1 dinner at the school.

Today we met at the school to discuss which sector of the Department we will be following this semester. Within Department 1, you can choose between three different scales and scope of work. Urban and city planning, smaller architectural design within the city context, and landscape. I have chosen to follow the “landskab” tract, which will focus more on reestablishing and re-identifying the landscape in the city context of Copenhagen.

The Department has scheduled many study trips this semester, the first one being this Sunday to Malmö, Sweden. During September 20-21, we will be back again in Sweden participating in a landscape architecture workshop with landscape architects and city planners from the United States, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. At the end of September those following the Landskab tract will do a three-day tour of Denmark, and in early October there will be a study trip to Venice, Italy.

I am really looking forward to these experiences ahead of me…

05 September 2010

Hils velkommen til Danmark! Welcome to Denmark!

I have arrived safely! A big thanks to my Mom and Dad, and Amanda and Erica for dropping me off at the airport. My travels went extremely well as I arrived in Copenhagen on Monday around 10:25 a.m. I walked to my flat from the Metro stop Forum, and proceeded to meet my landlady Lizzie, who is an older Danish woman who gives lectures in the town about the history of Copenhagen. She made me an “authentic” Danish lunch consisting of Smørrebørdsmad - a Danish delicacy consisting of roast beef, rye bread, onions and horseradish. The bread is first covered with a thick layer of butter, as almost every small sandwich made in Denmark includes a good layer of the fat. The portions are very small, but high in calories. Coffee and Danish butter cookies concluded the meal and I took a nap to prevent jet leg. That evening she made me Frikadeller, or Danish meatballs, serve with boiled potatoes and spinach. Everything was very good.

Danas Plads 10, 1915 Frederiksberg C - and my new "old" bike

On Tuesday morning I went early to the Danish Immigration Service to square away an issue dealing with my VISA, and then I walked about an hour around Copenhagen to find my school for orientation. I immediately grew fond of the school and the place that I will be studying over the next 5 months. The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture was founded in 1754 and is one of the world’s oldest schools of architecture. Currently, the school is located in Holmen, the former dock area of the Danish navy in the historic centre of Copenhagen.

That evening all the international students (I still can’t get over the fact I am considered an “international student,”) went out to eat and then drank some beer in a plaza. On the street…in public…with many other Danes doing the like. I couldn’t believe this. Turns out, you can also “drink and bike,” as it is not uncommon to see Danes riding their bikes and drinking beer at the same time.

Wednesday was the first official opening day of the school, which included a speech by the Headmaster and music by the Nightingale String Quartet (since this is an academy of fine arts, the talent of the student musicians was amazing.) Everything was in Danish, so I looked forward to the moments when the string quartet played. Following the opening ceremony, lunch was served in the “Kantinen.” It’s similar to a dining hall, but different in regards to culture. The Danes are very soft spoken and relax, so it was a great introduction to the school and culture that I will be much embracing over the next short months. Beer was served at this lunch, provided by the school. It was only 11 a.m. So here's the schedule I hope to get use to: breakfast at 8, coffee/tea around 10, lunch in the Kantinen from 11-1, and then coffee/tea again around 3.

The Kantinen, probably going to be my favorite place in Denmark...

After our two hour lunch break and drinking some Carlsberg, I went to meet with my Department. I am studying in Department 1: Architecture, City and Landscape. Most of the lecture was in Danish, but at the end the international students met with the professor to answer any questions. This is forcing me to pick up the Danish language fast. The Department does something very unique in terms of design education. All grade levels in the department - 1st years to 5th years meet together the first week of school and are split into groups to work on a fast-paced, one-week project. So I am currently working with a group of Danes to design a landscape in southern Copenhagen called Ørestad. Our discussion is this upcoming “Torsdag“, or Thursday.

This is the main auditorium where the final critique will be in January.

After class on Thursday, it was evident that I needed to get a bike. I was relying on walking and public transportation to get around the city, which I concluded was ludicrous. It cost me 23 dkk, or Danish kronner to ride the metro one-way (about 4 USD), so I decided buying a secondhand bike was the way to go. I spent much of the evening looking at bikes and finally found a decent one for 1000 dkk. That amount alone I would have spent one month using public transportation. Brett Seelman on a bike is very interesting. I haven’t been on one since my youth, but I am finding out how much more efficient your transit is and how much more one can see by riding a bike.

On Friday, I met with my group in the morning and we worked throughout the afternoon (only after tea and a decent lunch break) and then we ended with Fredag Bar, or “Friday Bar.” Because the Danish students don’t pay for education or healthcare (similar to other European nations) and get a stipend of 4,800 dkk a month (about 815 USD), they purchased some beer and we sat outside the school and enjoyed each other’s company. I went grocery shopping thereafter, had no idea what I was purchasing or where it was from (as most of you know, this was hard for me), and then headed back to my flat on bike before heading out.

I apologize that this is the first blog since I have departed the States, but they will be coming more frequently as I have caught my ground and I am enjoying the city very much.

Farvel, Brett