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Job development — Not everyone stays in town when they get their exam papers. Two landscape architects reckon that they have done the right thing by moving to the island of Mors in the Limfjorden straights in Northern Jutland, where they are both working on developing urban and natural areas.
Remote regions have great potential that you don’t have in the big city, and this can lead to a better life … if you are willing to move, that is.
This sounds like rose-tinted gloss from politicians behind the thick castle walls of the Danish parliament explaining to government employees why they have to move to the country’s sparsely populated areas.
But for the two former students of the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) the relocation to Mors had nothing to do with this.
Lauritz Rask and Mette Holst are both trained landscape architects from UCPH. They graduated in the summer of 2015 two months after they had met and become a couple at the course Transformation Studio, which was about ‘developing outlying areas in a time of large transformations’.
The short story: Mette Holst got pregnant, and in 2017 they decided to move from the Frederiksberg district of Copenhagen, where they had just moved together in an apartment.
Today, they live on the island of Mors in a house close to the forest and the beach, with their 17 month-old daughter. And today they work, side by side, at an office in the small town of Nykøbing in Morsø municipality, on the island of Mors in the Limfjorden fjord.
So they moved, even though Mette Holst had landed a ‘real architect job’ in a studio in Copenhagen.
The programme – Transformation Studio
The course in Transformation Studio has been running for four years now, and in the first three years, the focus was on Odsherred, Thisted and Bornholm. In February 2018, it was Mors’ turn.
The degree programme in landscape architecture is under the Faculty of Science at UCPH, and it has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
But there was something else which attracted her more.
“It is exciting to come to Mors and experience what Denmark also has to offer. I would also like to work with some of the potentials in outlying areas, and to help create the facilities that can bring visitors to these sites and to help get them on the map,” says Mette Holst.
She grew up in Copenhagen and only spotted the potential of outlying areas during the course of her study programme. Lauritz Rask, in contrast, comes from Funen and has always had an eye for these areas’ charm.
“Throughout my studies as a landscape architect, I’ve had an interest in outlying areas. Much of this programme is about Copenhagen, but for me, the most interesting part was getting outside Copenhagen … and most people in Denmark do actually live outside the Greater Copenhagen area,” says Lauritz Rask.
The move to Mors was not just about architecture and academics. The philosophy of life means something too.
“You become a more open, inclusive person to get out and see how you can also live and have a good life outside Copenhagen. In addition, the outlying areas have so many hidden wonders, which deserve to be communicated,” says Mette Holst.
And the spirit of the times is with the two landscape architects. In 2007, local authorities got a new opportunity to develop the landscapes and countryside with the structural reform in the same year. Right now, municipalities are struggling to uphold population levels and need to develop both their natural and urban environments.
Lauritz Rask first noticed Mors, when he in Copenhagen noticed a position in Morsø Municipality which would work with the same issues he had been working on in his master’s thesis.
“Morsø Municipality was – and is – under pressure from demographic developments, and it has therefore chosen a forward-thinking strategy and is trying to actively counteract the negative aspects of it. I found this exciting, and Mette and I agreed that this was an important dream to pursue,” says Lauritz Rask.
No sooner said, than done. First Lauritz Rask moved to Nykøbing on the island of Mors, while Mette Holst stayed back in Frederiksberg. She held her job at the studio for a year and commuted back and forth between Mors and Copenhagen in the weekends. Then when she gave birth to their daughter, she took her maternity leave in Nykøbing with Lauritz, and she quickly got to like it:
“I could go for a walk with the pram along the fjord and in the forest, right outside the front my door instead of having to walk up and down Gl. Kongevej in Frederiksberg in Copenhagen. This I really saw as an upside.”
It went really with the adjustment to this corner of the country which the media have dubbed ‘peripheral Denmark’.
“We found out after we have moved here, that people here on Mors acknowledged our skills. There are so few of our kind on the island, and we really feel appreciated,” says Mette Holst.
Lauritz Rask also sees advantages in his job situation in Nykøbing, which includes working on developing seven villages that are to have a common assembly room set up in Grundtvigsvej. This, he thinks, surpasses his opportunities in Copenhagen.
“In Copenhagen, when you are at job interviews, then it is the employers that have all the cards, and you can easily end up with a job where you have to work long hours just to be allowed to do what you really want. Here in the outlying areas, you can quickly get more responsibilities and be able to influence your own job,” says Lauritz Rask.