RF15: Pipe Dreams

At Roskilde Festival’s Dream City, the chance to live in a disused sewer pipe offers the ultimate luxury

“Is this a toilet?” croaks a bleary-eyed girl, one hand already unfastening her dusty shorts.

“No!” I reply fast, panicked as I emerge from a concrete pipe decorated with a unicorn.

By now, I’m used to warding off would-be urinators hovering around the pipe, sometimes mid-stream. All throughout Roskilde 2015, punters have been mistaking the pipe for a highly elaborate bathroom, a promising escape from the camping area’s pungent portable toilet situation.

“I live here”.

If you’ve wound your way around ‘Dream City’, the kaleidoscopically colourful festival camping area dedicated to fostering a creative community spirit and the construction of innovative campsites, you’ve probably seen a row of ten concrete sewer pipes.

And like most campers trying their hands at my pipe’s lock in the early hours of the morning, maybe you’ve wondered what they are.

Decked out with enough space to fit a makeshift bed, the pipes have been offered to ten lucky groups since ‘Dream City’ first began in 2012. Warm in the night, cool by day, smack-bang amongst the festival action but fitted with a door that locks, the pipes are the ultimate luxury in a festival renowned for its gruelling camping experience.


“The goal was to create a ‘single community’ that isn’t part of the regular Dream City experience”, says Dream City supervisor Maria Højkrog Andersen.

The weekend before Roskilde, pipe-dwellers are invited to paint and decorate their allotted pipe, and even set up indoor shelving and furniture.

“It’s so comfortable in a way that staying in the festival usually isn’t,” says Gabriella Edström, who shares pipe number six with two friends. “You can sleep all throughout the day, and you have a lot of opportunities to get creative with it.”

Gabriella agrees that many festival-goers are curious about the pipes. “You get a lot of questions. ‘How much are you paying?’ ‘How did you get to live there? I understand why people react to it, they look so nice.”

However aside from wayward urinators, pipe life can also attract unwanted attention in the middle of the night. During the festival, Gabriella’s pipe experienced a break-in.

“A lot of people try to open the door in the middle of the night. Actually, someone even broke in and stole our beers. That wasn’t cool.”


The dwellers each have a different approach to their pipes. While my graphic-designer pipe-mate decorated ours with a unicorn, my pipe-neighbour Mads Peter Pedersen covered his in elaborate blue graphics, and installed shelves and even furniture.

18-year old Sophie Warrell even bought artificial grass and potted flowers to decorate the outside of her pipe, “although they’ve all been stolen by now.”

While Tobias in pipe number 3 has the luxury of a pipe all to himself, two of the pipes are shared between a neighbouring campsite of fifteen people, who take turns sleeping in them.

Everyone credits the pipe experience with a great community feeling. “It’s great to learn about people’s projects and to be part of Dream City” says Sophie. “People here care about Roskilde in a different way.”

Gabriella agrees. “It’s even cleaner here by the pipes than in the designated ‘clean and loud’ camp. People here really respect the space more, but it’s still full of activity.”


How to score a pipe 101
So how do you score a pipe-home for Roskilde 2016?

Participants were invited to submit an application for a pipe on the Roskilde Festival Facebook page.

“This year we received more applications than ever. We’re not looking for one thing in particular, we’re after creative ideas and folk who want to give something back. The most important thing is to show you are engaged and want to be part of the community” says Maria.

When asked if she would live there again, Sophie would love to. “But I’d like to give a new person the opportunity to try the pipe life. Then again, I don’t know how I’ll go back to regular camping next year…”


By Lena Rutkowski

Politics & Society Editor. Lena is a journalist and translator from Australia. @Lenarutski

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