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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Karlstad and Tuggelite - Saturday, July 20th
by Clair and Melissa

On Saturday, July 20th, our class took a trip to Karlstad and saw the Tuggelite ecovillage. Karlstad is a city of 60,000 in the interior of Sweden. Coming from the dense environment of Stockholm, Karlstad was a very different type of city. It still had a prosperous downtown, which was pedestrian and retail friendly, and was well connected to the train station with a bus system running through the town. We met Romina, a former student of Jeff’s, who currently lives and works in Karlstad. She took us to the city center, where we borrowed enough bikes for the whole class to take to Tuggelite.  It was great to be on bikes again (for those who go to UC Davis!) and everyone enjoyed the fresh air and rural atmosphere of Karlstad as we rode 45 minutes along the river to Tuggelite. The coolest part of this bike ride was a device on the side of the bike path that counted the number of bikes riding past it going in either direction, a clever marketing strategy to encourage bike riding.

Tuggelite was founded in 1984, and was the first completed eco-village in Sweden, now housing 16 families. For many of its founders, the eco-village was a way to escape the ever-dominant use of nuclear energy. The goal was to heat the homes using wood-pellet furnaces, which are quite cheap and efficient. The city of Karlstad as a whole has now adopted this idea as well, using wood-pellet furnaces for “district heating” of neighborhoods. Every home in Tuggelite also has a greenhouse attached to its southern wall. This helps insulate and heat the home as well, minimizing energy costs. The walls of every home are very thick, cleverly saving energy costs for the homes as they stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Albert, one of the residents of Tuggelite, was kind enough to invite us into his home and we toured the four bedroom house that he and his family inhabited. The floor plan was very bright and open, and he also has the largest greenhouse in the neighborhood! While talking to us about the advantages of living in an eco-village, Albert stressed how much he loves it in Tuggelite because he knows his neighbors well and can count on them when he needs assistance, which is sometimes necessary because he is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair. Albert only started using a wheelchair ten years ago but has lived in the village since it was founded, and he says that it has been very easy to adapt and expand his home in Tuggelite to better serve his current needs.

What seemed to be a recurring important aspect of the Tuggelite eco-village is their emphasis on community. Our tour guides for the day kept referencing the friendliness and familial care that each community member had for one another, something the young girls said was not common among their classmates who live outside of the village. The community members hold meetings twice a month, and work together to clean, garden and maintain the village property in shifts. The meetings are also important for making community decisions, such as whether or not to hire a daycare worker, or to build a communal vegetable garden. The Common House, shared between all the neighbors, contains guest rooms where visitors can stay for free and space which is used as a daycare for the children of the community and those living in the adjacent city blocks.

This trip was eye-opening and allowed us to appreciate where eco and community living ideas first started, which are now becoming popular in many parts of the world, including the USA. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all the students who visited Tuggelite are now motivated to become new eco village residents, but the ideas and practices being successfully implemented in Tuggelite are influential to all of us because they have become popularized methods of “green” living, and will continue to spill over into the designs of many future communities that we will be involved with.

No comments:

Post a Comment