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Sweet spot — Sweet spot - Seven UCPH’ers take us to their special place at the University of Copenhagen.
Associate professor Anja Thoe Fuglsang opens the doors to the ceremonial auditorium on Frederiksberg Campus: “This historical auditorium is part of the spirit of the agricultural college,” says Anja Thoe Fuglsang, Deputy Head of Research at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, and who herself does research on the transport of nutrients in and out of plant cells.
“During the course of my working life, I’ve visited other universities a couple of times – but I always end up coming back to Frederiksberg Campus. There is a great atmosphere here, where the good old spirit of the agricultural college lives on, even after a few mergers with other institutions. Students and instructors are close together and there is a unique campus environment.”
“The old ceremonial auditorium is the epitome of this environment. Today it provides a setting for dissertations and PhD defences, celebratory symposia and various representative purposes. The comfort level could be better, and the acoustics are a bit peculiar, but you take this in your stride. The dome, the painting work, and the light coming in from the windows have turned this room into something beautiful and special.”
“My office with art, furniture classics and with a view of campus life is my favourite place.”
The words are Professor Mette Sandby’s. She is Head of Department at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies (IKK), and does her research on the history and theory of photography, contemporary art, and 20th century avant-garde art.
The office is halfway between a gallery and a beautifully prepared meeting room with ceramics in the long window sills and photo art on the walls. The office chair is a well-sculpted Eames classic, and Mette Sandby has opted out of a height-adjustable sit-stand table because it is “simply too ugly.”
We have done something to decorate the department in a way that the physical environment reflects the fact that we work with art and culture.
Mette Sandbye, Head of Department, IKK
“We have done something to decorate the department in a way that the physical environment reflects the fact that we work with art and culture. We have a lot of art in the whole department, and there is also some of it in my office, which is decorated quite aesthetically. The big meeting table is from when art history was a more practically oriented subject, so there are scratches and colouring – it has the aura of culture, of time, and of many students.”
“From the window I have a view of the [national broadcaster,ed.] DR, the IT University of Copenhagen, and the award-winning and beautiful Tietgen dormitory. And I can look down to the canal and canteen and see people flowing in and out. There is so much to let the eyes roam on, and campus life seems to play out in front of my very eyes. This is the nicest thing about this office.”
Team leader Kristian Levring Madsen works in a communication unit at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports. But he crosses the Agricultural College’s garden as often as he can.
“Today I’m at Nørre Allé in the main building of the old Department of Sports, but my first job was in the communication department at the Faculty of Natural and Life Sciences. At that time I walked through the garden every day on my way to work, and it has come to define the University of Copenhagen as a workplace for me. I like the fact that the garden is tucked away. Even though it is open to the public, it is still primarily a university garden that is used for research and for walks and talks by staff and students.”
“And then there’s the whole story behind it: When the agricultural college was built, it had to be outside the city walls because it treated diseased animals. You can still feel that this site has been built for a special purpose. In the pool over here, they apparently rode horses to rehabilitate them. Since then, the city has grown and grown, so the garden today is now in the centre of the city.”
“This is the main artery of genuine academic discussion in the social sciences,” says Alexander Thorvaldsen, who is doing his master’s in political science and is at the same time a student representative on the University of Copenhagen’s Board. He was chairman of the Student Council 2013-15.
“Here in the courtyard, students of the social sciences constantly meet up with colleagues and friends when they take a break from the reading room, or when they are going to and from classes. I wait all year for the cherry trees to sprinkle their pink leaves all over us, and I’m waiting for it to be Friday again so we can continue talking over a specialty beer in the afternoon sun.”
“Since we moved up to the Maersk Tower, everyone has been happy,” says Professor Lene Juel Rasmussen, Director of the Centre for Healthy Aging, which does research on how more people can live a healthy life to a healthy age.
The Healthy Aging group were the first to move into the newly built Maersk Tower in May 2017.
“You haven’t seen Copenhagen like this before, right? The view from the top floor of the Maersk Tower is impressive. It’s really beautiful up here, with the overview letting you discover new things about the city. I’ll go as often as I can, even though my office is on the third floor.”
”You get a rest – and it gives you energy at the same time. There is something about this whole building that makes you feel creative. This is how we all feel. When we moved from Panum over here in May, everyone was happy and in a good mood from day one. It is also positive to be able to take guests with you and share this experience. Everyone responds with a WOW.”
“It’s really something to be able to spend your days in this beautiful and historic place.”
This is according to service employee, Carina Tove Holmberg Hasselbalch, whose job is to service the UCPH management, and to organize meetings and book rooms, in the historic university area on Frue Plads where the central administration is located.
“Just out there on the other side of the rectorate, you have the traffic. In here it is like a beautiful oasis. I always take my lunch out here in the courtyard and maybe recharge my batteries with a Sudoku. It’s a breather for me in the course of a busy day.”
The brick building behind me is the only one that dates back to Medieval Copenhagen – it was built around 1420, and since the Reformation, the consistorium of the University of Copenhagen held its meetings there. When people want to book the room, I tell them that they are very lucky when allowed to do so, because the historical value is huge. In the basement there was a student prison, where naughty students were punished! Today we use it for Friday bars.”
Hans Hertel is Emeritus Professor in Nordic Literature (Professor 1980-2009) and would like to have shown us Anneksauditorium A. However, with the relocation to South Campus, the University of Copenhagen has handed over the keys to the Studiegården complex, and a number of other historical buildings, to the state as of 1st February 2017.
It is so sad that these places have been closed down. We have lost a big part of the university’s tradition and soul.
Emeritus Professor Hans Hertel
“I would almost consider it a tragedy that we can no longer use this classical auditorium, where UCPH has been for over 125 years. It is terribly sad that this is now up for sale. There is a special atmosphere here, where all the different heated discussions have taken place between people from all subjects and fields – it was here where all the faculty’s doctors defended their dissertations.”
“Here, I attended many a red-hot academic showdown, and I have lectured and held seminars on Georg Brandes and The Modern Breakthrough and on Poul Henningsen to a jam-packed auditorium. I think it was a good place with a lovely atmosphere, good lighting, and a nice balcony. And then it was in the middle of the city – making it convenient when you went to after-hours events, and loads of people turned up.”
“It is so sad that these places have been closed down. We have lost a big part of the university’s tradition and soul. It is like selling the family silver. They would never do this in Cambridge or Oxford.”