Exploring the world's built environments and seeking sustainable solutions.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back to Europe! It is now July 2010 and we have returned to Stockholm to begin out tour with the Sustainable Cities of Northern Europe class 2010 ("SCONES IV" 2010). We have been very busy already so have been remiss in not posting new material, but our blogging activity will pickup greatly over the next couple weeks.

Like last year, there are 28 students, and two instructors (one teacher and one coordinator). We have been in Stockholm since July 1, seeing many things: city streets, plazas, parks, trains, trams and buses, architectural interests, museums (of all types), and getting lectures on new neighborhoods like Hammarby Sjostad and the Stockholm Royal Sea Port, and various sustainable infrastructure systems like materials recycling, energy systems and transit.

This year we will have the students do most of the blog posts, so I will do very few other than the occasional comment. So, expect them to be more creative and inspired than last year!

Kerry and I started our Europe trip in Iceland, spending time in the capital, Reykjavik, and getting out to see volcanic terrain, geysers, hot springs, geothermal energy plants, fishing villages, fault zones, glaciers, glacial rivers, waterfalls, etc. Amazing place! One of the fun factoids we learned was that there are two common english words that originate in the complex and somewhat ancient language of Icelandic: geyser (which is spelled geysir sir in Icelandic). It took us awhile to adjust to the all day-all night light. Iceland is a magical place. The landscape is so stark, and rough and new - it is truly the start of the earth, since Iceland sits on the mid-Atlantic rift, and new volcanic materials are being created daily. The new island, Surtsey, rose from the sea back in the 1960's. As our friends and guides, Trausti Valsson and Orri Gunnarson pointed out, all people in Iceland become amateur geologists because you see it all around you. They are also incredibly connected to their Viking past; it seems that everyone of the 330,000 Icelanders can date their heritage back to 874 when the first Nordic settlers arrived and stayed. Great thanks to Trausti and Orri for showing us around. Both are faculty at the University of Iceland and live in Reykjavik.

OK, that is all the intro and travel log stuff for now. The weather in Stockholm has been extraordinary - bright sun and warm for a week! Not always that way. The next posting will be from Peter Hess one of our architecture students from UC Berkeley on his impressions of Stockholm.

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