I have puzzled over, and admired, the vast collection of unique signs and installations strewn over the Johanneberg campus for quite some time. While few meanings and reasons continue to elude me, there are some student theories behind a few that I wanted to share in order to bring awareness and generate an air of interest in the university outside of study programs.
The installation outside the Civil engineering and architecture building
(or commonly referred to as the V building):
It consists of three figures standing in a circle, holding hands, and looking happily above themselves. According to my friends at the department, these figures symbolize the three key bases of an ethical and sustainable design. They include the clients, the engineers and the designers, and the people already inhabiting the area to ensure a proper development plan.
The installation is made of copper and is placed right in front of the building, next to the parking lot. Cheers to fellow ambassador Natalia, photographed with the art, for showing me around and helping me understand the meaning of this cool establishment!
The meditating state in the student union building:
This art can be found right under the information screen at the student union building of the Johanneberg campus. It is also next to the student restaurant and pub, J.A. Pripps, and on the way to the common student spaces ahead, including the student restaurant.
It is also made of copper and serves as a physical reminder that taking breaks and focusing on our mental health is very important for our general well-being. Students are reminded that university is more than attending day-long classes and laboratories, no matter how all-consuming it may seem at the beginning.
The famous apple placed at the entrance of the Physics building: Perhaps the most famous fruit in the scientific community, this apple is placed at the doors of the physics department in the Johanneberg campus of Chalmers university. It is a source of pride and joy for our fellow physicists and if I’m being totally honest, one of the coolest things I have seen on the campus as well.
The apple reminds us of the infamous story of the formulation of the laws of gravitation but there is something deeper about it as well. The fruit is purposefully designed as a fraction of the whole, symbolizing that we truly know little of the state of our universe and the laws that govern it. Much like the installation. Our understanding is incomplete, and we must strive to learn more with each passing student in these halls!
Signs painted on the road, and stairs, to the student union building:
The stairs in front of the student union building, followed by the road leading to the different departments and serving as an important queuing space for students at most university events, sparkle brightly on sunny days. Different departments at the university have different signs and symbols which are sacred for the students enrolled in them.
Most, if not all, of these signs can be found glistening on the steps the students take to reach a common space accessible by all, the student union building. Each of these signs has its own backstory and tradition. The most common being the supposed bad luck that you get cursed with if you knowingly step on your own departments sign! Other departments signs are free game though, and often become a jeering sport for students on more relaxed days.
These are a couple of unique, student-life related things at Chalmers that I find absolutely endearing! The university holds a special place in my heart and these little, well-thought-out details, make it all the more interesting and personal to me. There are still many things that I have seen on the campus which make little sense to me at the moment. They include the giant snake-like structure outside the library, the old propellor placed in front of the mechanical building, the different statues of famous university graduates and not to mention the little installation of “Emil and Emilia”.
I take great pleasure in knowing the backstory behind all these installations. It’s almost as if I am turning back the pages of the university’s student history, peeping into the architect’s minds, and getting to know those who came before me and left a profound mark on the campus. I will keep you all updated with my findings as I explore more of the campus and capture more random facts about its design and history.