Our landscape architecture and urban planning students from Texas A&M and Penn State University took an excursion 66 km northwest of Bonn to a site called Metabolon. Metabolon is a redevelopment project that has transformed a waste disposal site into an educational and recreational facility, bringing a positive public purpose to an otherwise negatively-perceived space. It also functions as an innovation site for material conversion and sustainability techniques.
Following the educational part of their excursion, it was time for recreation: the students ascended the seemingly endless stairway leading to the top of the landfill. As one of the students described it, "It feels like we're climbing the pyramids right now." It was a long climb, but it was certainly worth it.
On the top of the landfill, visitors find a playpark to enjoy as they overlook the beautiful view of the Lindlar region. Some of the students relaxed on the built-in seating areas, others jumped on the miniature trampolines, and many took great photos. A brief presentation by the tour guide followed, and then it was time to begin the descent and return to Bonn.
At Metabolon, the students had a unique opportunity to engage with ideas about the multiple uses of space, issues of public perception and the management of that perception, sustainability in multiple forms of waste disposal, and the challenges and rewards of opening private industrial areas to public visitation – all while having a blast!
Landscape architecture and urban planning students from PSU und TAMU collaborate in creating pieces of public art.
AIB strives to provide interdisciplinary programs for our students that bring them into collaboration with professionals and practitioners, encouraging them to think critically and creatively across disciplines.
From September 13 to the 16th, students from Texas A&M and Penn State University engaged in an art workshop that exemplified these goals. The workshop, entitled "3.94 Kilometers," brought landscape architecture and urban planning students from both universities into collaboration. Their assignment was to create a piece of public art, within a 3.94 Kilometer strip along the railway tracks.
Working together in groups of three or four, the students surveyed the area for a "point of interest" in which to construct their project. They then created an artistic piece to modify that public space. Finally, they implemented their art piece, recorded it and projected the recording through AIB's window back into public space.
Thorsten Goldberg, an artist who specializes in art in public space came in from Berlin to lead the workshop. The workshop, he said, was designed with the intention of helping the students "experience a more open approach, another way of working with public space, another possibility to interact technically, but also with the people." He added:" I hope they will see in the end that experimenting or playing with a situation has nothing to do with childishness or with being ridiculous. But looking at things from another angle, and truly questioning what is given, leads to new answers, or leads to new tools. And this is what's needed. This is what I hope."
AIB landscape architecture faculty member, Bruno Röver, urban planning professor June Martin from Texas A&M University an Marina Thelen, AIB's TA, worked with Goldberg in offering guidance and feedback to the students throughout the workshop. The workshop was a resounding success. As one of the students from Texas A&M, Colin Moffett, reflected, "This workshop taught me not to be afraid to let my creative side flow. Even if it's abstract, that’s okay. Even if it doesn't really make sense at first, it doesn't have to make sense to everyone. You know, it just needs to be yours, and it needs to fulfill a purpose. And if it fulfills that purpose−that's what it's created to do. And that's it. That's enough."
Loyola Marymount University film students had the opportunity to develop their own creative scenes using a simple script with infinite possibilities. Titled "Ice Cream," this script consists of one character that wonders why the second has not brought him back ice cream from the market. The fact that the script describes a quite short and mundane exchange between two people makes it all the more challenging for students to come up with interesting characters and backstories to make a good short film. Before this assignment, the LMU students had two opportunities to film different versions of the scene while taking turns recording sound, working the camera, directing, and acting. After critiquing each others' work, the students were instructed to take the script one step further. Rather than just one scene, Professor Andrew Hood suggested that the students split up into pairs to construct a longer film that was able to incorporate the "Ice Cream" script as well as feature a clear beginning scene, middle scene, and concluding scene to tie in a relevant backstory and additional information about the two characters. Luckily, the film students were able to work with amazing German theatre students from Alanus University (Alanus Hochschule für Kunst und Gesellschaft) so that they could stick to their work behind the camera as directors and cinematographers. Instead of only functioning as actors, however, the German students were also producers of the films that they were a part of. On their first day meeting the pair of Americans they'd be working with, the German students immediately contributed ideas for locations to shoot, costumes, and important qualities of the characters they would soon be portraying. Because it was most of the actors' first experiences in front of a camera, it was an exciting and challenging assignment for everyone involved. From a couple plagued with the effects of alcoholism to an uncomfortable encounter between a boss and an intern, the students were able to come up with varying situations in which the "Ice Cream" scene could unfold. Two days of shooting left each group with enough footage to pull together some good short films that each could be proud of. A screening of the assignments was held on Friday, September 16th so that each filmmaker and actor could watch and learn from the work of his peers.
On Saturday evening, September 3rd, the AIB officially welcomed its Fall semester students of 2016 with a barbecue party hosted at the old AIB located in Bonn, Adenauerallee 7. We are happy to welcome students from various programs including Landscape Architecture from Pennsylvania State University, Engineering, New Europe and Film from Loyola Marymount University and last but not least Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning from Texas A&M University.
The party kicked off a great start to an intercultural experience abroad. There was a great sense of anticipation among the students and it was clear they could not wait for the programs to begin. The atmosphere was thrilling and exciting. After the programs had introduced themselves to the staff and to each other, a blues band started playing and heating up the atmosphere. The lead guitarist was one of our staff members, Malek Tarhouni. It didn’t take long until he got everybody on their feet. Even the members of our host families, who are an essential part of our institution, joined the dancing.
In the end, the party was a great success and students from different programs and universities got to know each other and bonded. We wish all the new students a successful and memorable semester abroad in Bonn, Germany. We know that they are ready to explore not only Bonn but also many more valuable and interesting locations around Bonn and throughout Europe. The AIB students will meet different people and experience various cultures that will help each individual to expand not only their intellectual but also their intercultural mind.
When a new program arrives in Bonn, we believe it is important to have a bonding experience for the students, faculty, and program coordinators to get to know each other better. For the Texas A&M Architecture program (faculty-led by Dr. Elton Abbott) and Sports Business in Europe program (faculty-led by Dr. Paul Batista), this meant a trip to the picturesque Eifel Region of Germany. This region is situated on a low mountain range that encompasses both parts of the Rhein and Mosel rivers, known primarily for its world-renown Weisswein (white wine) and its many historic castles (which Dr. Abbott, professor of the Architecture program, believed would be inspiration for his students' future projects).
On Sunday, we departed from Bonn headed to our first stop at the "Kletterwald Lauschhütte." The Kletterwald Lauschhütte is a high ropes course located in the treetops of a forest containing many obstacles that tested our strength, concentration, balance, and patience. But naturally, we had a blast! Everyone raced to the starting point of one of the many elements which were designated like ski slopes as either easy, medium, or hard. Even Dr. Batista (the Sports Business in Europe professor) participated (it just happened to be his birthday as well)!
Once we conquered the ropes course, we returned to the bus and headed to our hostel, which is not what one would think of as being a typical hostel. It was actually Burg Stahleck, a castle built circa 1135, which has been turned into a hostel. It sits above the Rhein River, overlooking the quaint village of Bacharach. It is believed to have been settled by the Celts before the Romans conquered this part of Europe well before the birth of Jesus.
Learn more: Texas A&M visit Bacharach