"Project Ålidhem" Ingo Vetter and Peter Lundström

"I like Umeå and Umeå likes me" Lasse Sahlin

"An Important Part of our Education" Students’ Foreword

Ylva Trapp

Frida Krohn
Therese Johansson
Lars Hedelin
Frida Krohn, Ylva Trapp
och Lina Palmqvist

Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy

Per-Arne Sträng
Martina Wolgast
Mariel Rosendahl
Nils-Johan Sjöquist


"The History of Ålidhem" Hans Åkerlind
"My own private Ålidhem" Maria Bjurestam
"Functional Sculpturer" Ingo Vetter

Presentation of Participants


Lars Hedelin

My first year in Umeå I lived in Ålidhem, on Fysikgränd, in the student ghetto. During the Fysikgränd party (the students’ annual big outdoor party), I was at home sick. My room was on the ground floor and the students had put up a stage where various bands played only a few meters away from where I slept. Already early in the evening someone threw a chair against my window.

I got an overwhelmingly negative picture of the district. This was mainly based on my impressions of the others who lived there and most probably also on the general opinion in Umeå that Ålidhem is a problem area.

My antipathies have lessened somewhat since that time and with the start of the Project Ålidhem, which consisted of going deeply into the area and its history. I particularly appreciated the city architect, Hans Åkerlind’s lectures on the origins of the district. I can sympathise with the consideration taken by this type of Million Dwelling programme of its future residents. That there has been a social pathos that has permeated even the smallest detail is very evident. Now when I no longer live in Ålidhem it is easier for me to overlook the fact that the care and consideration, which came from above, did not always succeed.

Right from the beginning high demands were placed on all of us who participated in Project Ålidhem. The municipality put money into a run-down district and expected its investment to give results in the form of art that beautified and raised the area’s status.

The politicians, local residents’ associations and engaged inhabitants of Ålidhem who came to our information meetings had very strong views about what they wanted out of the project. Especially strong hopes, as I understood it, were placed on having a fountain. As I already had difficulties balancing between my desire to manifest my own artistic visions and to take consideration of the public who would be forced, possibly on a daily basis, to be confronted with them, I decided to place myself entirely at the disposal of public opinion. I would build a fountain.


However, the fountain would be driven by exercise bicycles. I thought this was a subtle game - giving Ålidhem residents the fountain they wanted but getting them to run it themselves. At the sketch stage, it looked like three small mallard duck statuettes standing in a little pool, spurting water when one pedelled on any of the three cycles that stood mounted round the pool. Francois Bucher, one of the teachers at the art school, suggested that it should be called Animation, partly because I normally work with animated film and partly because the word animation comes from the Latin anima, which according to Bucher means something like breath of life, and in this way it could be said that when one started up the fountain by cycling, one gave the three ducks life. I decided to call the fountain Breath (three ducks come to life).

To make a cycle fountain showed itself to be incredibly difficult. I thought it would be cheaper to construct and easier to maintain because it was entirely mechanical and not dependent on electricity. On the contrary – putting together different technicians who normally have nothing to do with each other, and worse, when no simple uniform solutions existed, only caused problems. In the end I had to give up; it wasn’t possible to carry out the project in the time that was available.

Instead, I launched a plan B: an animated fountain film which was shown publicly in a show-case in the Ålidhem Centre. It would make a fine continuation if the film could be shown outdoors, against one of Ålidhem’s brick walls, perhaps in the place where the real fountain would have been situated.