A weekend at Floda 31

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To the untrained eye, Floda 31 appears to be a series of about half a dozen old farmhouses and barns on a large plot of land overlooking a forest. In reality, it’s a multidisciplinary design research facility.

Birmingham-born Rich Holland and his Dutch partner Marije de Haas established it (and are still building it) in the last remaining wilderness of Europe, on the site of a farm in northern Sweden surrounded by incredible views of ancient spruce forests, just south of the arctic circle.

I’m staying here for a couple of days, relaxing, taking in some scenery and getting my head around the kind of innovation that can happen in a place like this – and it’s on a scale that’s much larger than anything I’ve come across.

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Pretty much anything that can be made, can be made here. The workshop contains everything you might need to build anything from a website to a skate park – from a feature film to an observatory to chart the transit of Venus.

The residencies held here bring together science, art, architecture, design and technology to explore ideas and themes – primarily around the concept of sustainability. All of the ideas and innovations created at Floda 31 are made available to the public under a Creative Commons licence.

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The people here are smart, fun and interesting -and the scenery here is breathtaking. It’s a place I’d love to spend a bit more time.

We’ve been talking about putting together an event of some kind. Something that grows out of the Music Tech Fest, but extends it to bring together music and technology, art and architecture, design and innovation. It’d be great to hold some kind of residential event in this really beautiful part of the world.

We’re just kicking around concepts at this point – but something interesting could come of this. Watch this space.

In the meantime, it’s an amazing place to be – and so incredibly quiet. Except, that is, for the constant bouncing around of ideas, the sounds of cooking, laughing and the toddler playing in the corner.

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Just had a lunch of freshly-caught pike from the adjacent river – followed by a swim in an enormous, pristine, and beautifully warm lake entirely surrounded by forest. I could get used to this sort of thing.

Not entirely sure I could get used to the other half of the year when it’s 20-odd degrees below zero and you could walk across this lake, but that’s another story.

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