That is the sentiment from Lars Østergaard. He is an architect and will help the Faculty of Theology to adapt to KUA 3, which is the last remaining field to move into the Southern Campus on Amager in Copenhagen. Theology, Law and the Royal School of Library and Information Science (IVA) will move in over the new year. The move was born of a political decision made at the end of the 1990s, while the first sketches for KUA 3 were drawn in 2010.
Uniavisen has called Østergaard to ask him about the biggest challenges of the move. One of them has been the volatile nature of the students.
“But the biggest challenge is probably the one that everyone is afraid of: how do you move people?”
A five-kilometre cycle ride later, Uniavisen has come a little closer to answering the question. An answer which involves chipped mugs, dark-blue fabric, bookshelves, antlers and a Friday bar with flexible opening hours.
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The professors’ attitude is contagious
The first stop is Bispetorv, which has housed the Faculty of Law over the past 500 years. It boasts gold stucco, chandeliers and a meeting room with a view of the Copenhagen Round Tower. The law students were loud critics of the decision to move them from the Latin Quarter, and in 2011, 22 professors wrote a protest letter against the moving plan.
“We are very divided here in Law. There are those who have “grown up” here in the city – all of their memories about study are connected to the place – but there is also something about being located in the middle of the city, a pulsating city with easy access to everything. Some will miss that,” says law student Rebecca Ingeman, settling into a chequered Wegner chair in the basement under the Bispe annex.
“And when the professors sigh and say “Oh, now we have to move soon,” it naturally affects the students. But most are pleased. There are very few, who believe that the study environment here is better than what we will end up with it. They can see from our feedback on the study environment – it is glaringly bad.”
The law faculty’s bad score in the university’s feedback survey is particularly attributed to dissatisfaction with the décor, indoor climate and few opportunities to meet other students and professors beyond the classroom.
Worship and café
Faculty management has been highly receptive to ideas to improve the study environment, say Ingeman and her fellow student Adan Kham, who spoke with Uniavisen a few days ago. Kham is on the reference committee, an umbrella group of the relocation committee.
Kham has led an effort to set up a worship room at KUA3, a room with space for meditation, contemplation and silence.
“For me, it has been very important to create a good study environment with tables, chairs and power outlets for everyone. But we also need some good foundations for the community. I hope that an addition like a worship room and a student-operated café will help to create a community with space for all.”
The proposal for a student-operated café emerged in Spring 2016. The Faculty of Law has not had one before. None of the student associations had the courage to operate a café for 5,000 students, but over a Christmas party and with a few beers on the table, the faculty’s student council decided to take up the task.
“I believe that the café will give a sense of community. It will be a place where people can meet and discuss how studies were difficult that particular day, without needing to set up a meeting to talk about it. I also hope that researchers will stray down there,” says Ingeman, who will help to run the café.
At the moment, the café’s interior design team is buying up coffee cups and tea mugs from second-hand shops, so the new café will boast a kind of “Friends” vibe, with cups in different colours and shapes. Meanwhile, the budget and procurement team is on the hunt for coffee bean deals.
“The faculty has given us 15,000 kroner is start-up capital which we can use as we like. They will also buy coffee machines, an electric kettle and a washing machine. Whenever we have asked for something, they have simply said ‘fine, we’ll arrange it,’” says Ingeman.
Vice-decan: It’s important to have a history
Back on the bike for a quick ride to Studiegården, where the Faculty of Law’s staff are housed.
The faculty’s management office is found behind a heavy door flanked by two large stone owls. A few years ago, the door was closed to students. While this is not the case today, very few students find their way to the researchers’ chambers.
“We really hope to cross paths more. The students are also welcome today, but we live very parallel lives. We hope for a stronger cohesion at KUA3,” says the vice-decan for education, Stine Jørgensen, who has invited Uniavisen for coffee with the relocation project leader, Thomas Haaning Christiansen.
We meet at the project manager’s office under a bulletin board plastered with drawings and material samples in shades of dark blue and dark green.
Jørgensen glances at the material samples.
“It is a little classic…something we identify ourselves with.”
Although the vice-decan agrees with the students that there is a lot to improve upon – and will be improved upon - in the new environment, she says there are also some things which are worth holding on to.
“It is important to have the story come with you. We have launched an “identity” group who will develop suggestions for what we can take with us to preserve our fundamental features,” she says.
“The stone owls are really part of our identity, and we have tried to take them with us, but it cannot be done because it emerged that Studiegården is preserved and we can’t move them. But we’ll see whether take them with us, one way or another” says Haaning Christiansen, smiling a bit mysteriously.
The bars close earlier
The trip from Studiegården to Købmagergade is better managed by foot than by bicycle, prompting Uniavisen’s reporter to think of something that the law student Rebecca Ingemann had said earlier in that day: “I am looking forward to becoming part of a larger educational space, a space which allows you to delve in, and where your thoughts aren’t constantly interrupted by tourists on segways.”
A few tourist buses later, we get closer to the Theology Faculty. In a building situated in a courtyard off Købermagergade, Theology is housed in four stories, plus a basement highly cherished by the students. The move to KUA 3 will eliminate a quarter of the square metres currently enjoyed by Theology.
That means less space for books and a bar, and this concerns Lucas Antonio Madsen, chairman of the faculty’s council. He recommended meeting in the building’s central room, but we can’t get in through the main door because the handle has fallen off.
“Let’s go down and tell Torben,” says Madsen, and we turn around a bend to go past the office of faculty director Torben Rytter Kristensen.
The director explains that the Faculty of Theology has faced a huge challenge in preserving the good study environment enjoyed by the faculty today. Therefore, the faculty has emphasised adaptation, so that the distance between professors’ offices and lecture halls are not so far, and so that there is space for student associations and parties.
Madsen notes that management has gone to great lengths to accommodate the wishes of the students.
“We currently have a basement to ourselves where we can party the whole night. Now, we will have to close earlier out of consideration of the fact that the professors need peace so they can work in the afternoon. But we have been granted permission to continue opening the bar quite early, under the condition that we don’t make too much noise. We will also have 24 / 7 access to the faculty, so we can go to the library and study whenever we want,” says Madsen.
Books or Art
The books are another issue of note for the faculty. Today, Theology’s libraries are split across three levels. At KUA 3, the books will have to be placed in a smaller faculty, in the basement and along the extra-wide corridors adjacent to the professors’ offices, which are designed with space for bookshelves.
“We need to get rid of some books, which is something we’re not particularly happy about, but we are in the process of finding a solution so that they will not be discarded, at least. They will be sold or given away,” says Madsen.
He explains that the book collection was one of the few points on which the council was forced to battle with the dean.
“The dean focused a lot on relocating the art, but the space taken up by the art is space that could otherwise be used for books. Books are a big part of our identity.”
For Madsen, the books are a more important part of the Faculty of Theology’s identity than the inner-city surroundings.
“Of course we have been located here for a long time, and there is some identity tied up with that, but for me, moving does not spark a huge identity crisis. It is just something you have to accept. It is good to remember the history, but it is more important to focus on building a new identity up at KUA3.”
Two bad pizzerias and Urbanplanen
The last stage of the bike trip begins in the pouring rain, but the pedals must go faster. We have to get to the border of Amager and Amager Øst. The Royal School of Library and Information Science (IVA) is housed in a red brick building, a shoe factory taken over by the school in the 1960s. Since then, the library school has become IVA, and IVA has come under UCPH’s wings.
It is three o’clock and the first beer has been ordered in the Friday bar, Den Gale Hjort. Second-year student Maria Sofie Jensen orders an organic Royal Classic while Tue Scheel Nielsen, a Masters student, pulls together a few chairs around a table in front of the antlers decorating the bar’s back wall. Jensen explains that her studies have been characterized by a temporariness, which has permeated the mood:
“We have known the whole time that we would have to move, so perhaps we are not so connected to the place. We are looking forward to the new, nice buildings. Here, it is cosy, but old. Retro, but not in such a good way.
Scheel Nielsen continues: “During exam periods, study spaces can be completely empty at four in the afternoon. Here, it is so dead and there are no facilities. The cafeteria opens late and closes early.”
They have so much space at IVA that the adult education institution and a publisher have moved in. And even with the new roommates, Jensen still feels there are “ghost corridors.”
“Here, it is boring and grey and Amager. We have two bad pizzerias and the urban plan,” says Peder Helms from third semester, settling down with a beer. At least you can always find a place for group work, you can just go over to an empty space on the other side of the corridor.”
IVA will party with new neighbours
On December 9, the towering antler heads will be peeled from the wall and the current Friday bar torn down. Resurrecting Den Gale Hjort is high on the agenda, as the café represents everything for the community - something Scheel Nielsen, Jensen and Helms can all agree on.
It is a community where museum curators play board games and football with hardcore IT types and where students are on a first-name basis with the employees and management.
“Maybe it will become difficult to preserve the near-future. Despite the ghost corridors, there is a real closeness, a community,” says Jensen.
The students were quite worried when a permanent café ended up the victim of a space-saving effort.
“There was a proposal for a roll-in bar on wheels. Fortunately, there has been increased focus on in-campus facilities and it has been easier to push the point that the café should have its own space,” says Scheel Nielsen.
Scheel Nielsen, Jensen and Helms hope that they can both protect the sense of closeness and achieve a campus vibe – “the feeling of being part of something bigger,” as Scheel Nielsen phrases it.
“The dream scenario is that we could incorporate Law and Theology into our community,” says Helms, while Jensen explains that a committee has been launched called Samarbejde på Tværs (cross-study collaboration), which the students hope to become part of. The committee will arrange shared parties and other activities across the shared area.
“We must convince the others that it is not the end of the world to move to Amager,” says Jensen.