Lundagård: the cradle of Homo Collossus

Which is bigger: the projections, or the legend that grew up around the people who projected them?

If you find yourself with a bit of time to spare while wandering the four-century-old campus of Lund University, you could do worse than to drop in to the head office of Lundagård: the editorial staff are always happy to tell you all about the history of the oldest students’ newspaper in Sweden (perhaps because it’s a great way to avoid working on the next issue). Stories of epic pranks and drunken (mis)adventures aside, Lundagård is also rumoured to be the birthplace of the Homo Colossus movement. 

The story goes like this: at a sustainability workshop in 2022—held on the campus that became today’s Paradiset urban eco-village—researchers from Stockholm introduced the concept of Homo Colossus as a way to visualise how large humans would need to be to eat all the energy we use, not just the calories for our metabolism; pictures of Gulliver, the character from Swift’s great satire, served to illustrate the point. The Lundagård editorial board of the time were in attendance, and decided—with timeless undergraduate zeal—to consider the energy footprint of their own university. 

Not long afterwards, enormous light projections of the university’s Vice Chancellor—over fifty meters in height—began regularly to appear on different buildings around the campus. The University administration tried to put measures in place to monitor the buildings during the nights, but the activist group behind these actions always came up with new ideas. At Lundakarnevalen in 2026, for instance, an enormous inflatable balloon representing the Dean flew over the campus, emblazoned with their hypothetical weight and the phrase: “But how big do you actually plan to be?”

An early projection by the Homo Colossus movement

The University had committed in the 2010s to action compliant with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Accord, but in several anonymous opinion pieces in local newspapers the Homo Colossus movement argued that this would not be enough: the university’s energy consumption needed to decrease to avoid other environmental consequences, such as destruction of land and abstraction of water. Despite its serious edge, the movement retained a busighet (mischievousness) which helped it gain support (or at least tolerance) in a city with a long history of student activism and pranks: for instance, they proposed a list of different “diets” that the Dean could implement at LU. 

The movement spread beyond Lund a few years later, as Homo Colossus projections and statues grown from fungi started to appear on city halls and in roundabouts all over Skåne. Criticism soon followed—including one incendiary op-ed from a docent of economics in which he questioned the energetic consumption of the movement itself, and its presumably privileged participants—but, as is sometimes the case, this served only to spread the message further.

Although Lundagård‘s official policy is not to discuss the veracity of the story, you can notice a certain pride when they show you some pictures of the actions that were taken in Lund, especially as these pictures have gained in value among collectors. Was it really the work of a few students, or was it the work of a broader collective? We may never know for sure… but then again, maybe we will, because the movement is still active. If you stroll through Lund’s well-heeled Professorsstaden neighbourhood in the gloomy evenings of the autumn semester, you might see a projection or statue depicting the occupant of one of the area’s more opulent houses—in which case, get a picture quickly, as it’s unlikely to last for long!

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