Let’s Walk Urban Landscapes

I have just returned home from the design research symposium Let’s Walk Urban Landscapes held in Hannover on Sep. 1st to Sep. 3rd where I had the great pleasure of meeting old friends from Germany again.

The symposium was arranged by Studio Urbane Landschaften and, as the title of the conference suggests, was based on the engagement of the symposium participants in order to discover and discuss new pathways in design research and practice. Divided into six different workshops we were encouraged to co-create the symposium by walking different areas of Hannover in teams.

I had the daunting but surprisingly wonderful experience of walking Roderbruch, an urban district in Hannover namely dubbed Roderbronx, with a team run by Emanuele Braga from Landscape Coreography. Braga took us for a collective, and intuitively coreographed, walk through the urban district of Roderbronx with the aim of discovering, and conveying, forgotten, hidden or otherwise unnoticed spatial relationships in the urban fabric of the Bronx.

Despite (probably) looking ‘out-of-place’ from an outsiders perspective we encountered microworlds of water fountains, hidden creeks, invisible boundaries and in-between spaces by immersing ourselves ‘in-it’. Encounters that could have been ‘overlooked’ if we had used other, more traditional, mapping techniques.

Designing landscapes through walking

According to German landscape architect Henrik Schultz walking can help to intensively perceive and understand traversed space, to generate knowledge, to stimulate intuition and grasp single spatial elements as ensembles, to recognize and exchange perspectives and ideas.

Based on more than 100 experimental walks in as diverse territories as the Swiss Alps, the Scottish Highlands, Patagonia and metropolises like Berlin and London Henrik Schultz asks how we can walk to design? How can we make sure that all the prospects of walking can be operative? Are there any rules for “how to walk”? Can we learn to apply walking to the tasks of large-scale landscape design? How can the findings be transferred in order to make them applicable for large-scale landscape design?

Henrik Schultz will discuss this and more in his lecture Designing large-scale landscapes through walking on March 4th, 3 pm. in the Main Auditorium at the Aarhus School of Architecture…

…and everyone are welcome!

Road trip to Sweden

I look forward to a one-day road trip in good company to Alnarp in Sweden tomorrow.

Together with my colleague Martin Odgaard I will be visiting old friends Anders and Roland at SLU to talk landscape laboratory. Of course, most of our visit and talks will take place in the field while walking the laboratory – the most wonderful meeting fascilities around!

Our goal is to further qualify the design and planning of the Aarhus Landscape Laboratory, but if we are lucky we will be able to bring home some of their magnificent 2013 laboratory honey:

Honey Bees at SLU

150 walks

In the spring of 2014 I am co-running an assignment for 150 bachelorstudents.

The assignment will take place in the Aarhus River Valley and to some extent build upon my article The Chocolate River and Gardens of Change, which I wrote in 2012 for the IFLA World Congress in Auckland, New Zealand.

As part of the assignment all 150 students will be asked to use walking as an integrated method in relation to their design work. This in order for the students to experience the valley of the Aarhus River as a three-dimensional map of the site’s territorial substrate addressed not to the bird’s eye view, but to the thinking body of the walker; engaged in the breadth and depth of the river territory. Donald Schön in his book The Reflective Practicioner describes a similar approach as a reflection in practice, a thinking with ones feet (Schön, 1983).

The intention was for the students not necessarily to find their way but to get lost; to loose themselves in the changing landscape of the Aarhus River Valley and in the process discover something they did not aim to discover before setting out on their 150 walks.