The best hidden secret of Luleå.
Since the north of Sweden experiences a rather severe winter, with the temperatures dropping down to -40°C, plenty of snow and almost no daylight for a few months, the clever Swedes have made several winter-proof adjustments to their lifestyle. One of them is the tiny window hatch next to the actual window, which allows you to only open the window a bit while airing out the room in winter. Another is the impressive network of maintenance tunnels spanning under the buildings of the Luleå University of Technology (LTU). The tunnels connect all buildings and are frequently used as shortcuts between them during the winter, so you do not need to put on all the winter gear just to cross the road. Admittedly, they can be a bit confusing, but once you learn how to navigate around them, they are quite handy.
Naturally, since students are the same everywhere and we tend to invade all available spaces like rats and use them for our activities, the same thing happened at the LTU. There are sections of the tunnels with amazing graffiti art, as well as some rooms converted into hang out places.
The tunnel art
When I was studying in Luleå, there were several improvised food places run by the student societies, which opened at random times that they announced on Facebook. They served simple food for a very non-Swedish price and all came with their own special theme. There was the Bunkern with the penguins, which served toast, the Valhall, which served hot dogs and chocolate cake, and the Sholkällan, which served waffles with jam or shrimp mayo-salad (skagenröra). Each student society at the LTU also has their own logo and a patch. It is a thing to buy working overalls at the start of your studies, sew all possible patches from different student activities on them during the years, wear them to all the parties and preferably never wash them. Let me tell you, it makes for quite a sight on Friday nights.
When I was there, we could access any LTU buildings or rooms for which we had clearance on our student card 24 hours per day. They changed some access times in December 2018, but the A-house always remained open. The student sektionslokaler usually opened at around 2 in the morning on Fridays, after the resident student club Stuk was starting to close.
The tunnels and sektionslokaler
How to find it?
This one is a bit tricky for non-students. Since doors to the LTU buildings are normally open everyday between 8am – 5pm, you could potentially see the tunnels even if you are not a student, provided you don’t mind some funny looks if they figure you out for a stranger. You can enter through any of the buildings and proceed down the staircase to the basement, where there will be an emergency exit sticker on the door. Follow the signs towards the C and F-huset, as that’s where most of the graffiti are located, but it might be best just asking a student to show you so you don’t get in trouble for wandering around the university.
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