The original site of the allotment cottage and garden

Permanent public installation, Linköping University area, Linköping, 2003

The district Gamla Linköping (Old Linköping) was founded by the mid-20th century as a cultural reserve and open-air museum. Thus, it is one of the newest districts in Linköping. The blocks are composed of old buildings from the central parts of Linköping. The town centre was demolished during the 1940’s to make room for a more “modern” kind of city planning. Other open-air museums usually have fences, enclosing the areas and separating them from the surroundings. In Gamla Linköping, however, no such borders exist. Instead, people live in many of the houses of the museum around the year. Hence, these museum spaces blend with actual shops and dwelling houses.

What, then, does the future like look for Gamla Linköping? Should the district continue in its role as a utopian turn of the century town, or should contemporary buildings, which would otherwise be demolished, be added to the museum, and in this way incorporate recent history into the district? When does things turn old and what is history?

The idea of allotment-gardens had its breakthrough in the first half of the 20th century. The allotment should offer town-dwellers a miniature piece of cultivable countryside at a reasonable price. The allotment-garden cottage should function as a tool shed and also as a place to spend the night.

During 2003, a major part of Gamla Valla allotment-area, located near Gamla Linköping was demolished to make room for the constantly expanding university area. My contribution to an exhibition in the on-campus sculpture park was an allotment with a cottage to match, which was moved there from Valla, saving it from its impending demolition. The garden and the cottage are restored to be preserved as well as functional. The sculpture is a living monument of Gamla Valla allotment-garden.

Today the allotment is administered by the property company Akademiska hus, who lends it to people interested in using and tending to it. Currently, students from the Department of Biology of Linköping University use it.

Martin Karlsson, 2003

Inspiration: Old Linköping Open Air Museum

Installation views of the moved allotment cottage and garden in the Linköping University Campus area

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