When work becomes passion and passion becomes reality / Interview Jacob Bundsgaard, mayor of Aarhus & alderman Marc pera Christensen / Go Green Aarhus 2017 / Theory U / The Yes! Municipality / Godsbanen Trailerpark / Furture Practice- Knowledge & Experiments / Entrepreneurial Portraits /City of ceres : How to build a City / Hope is Green / Aarhus University: Student Incubator / Let's Go Co-Create / Steps toward a Sustainable Future / Green Entrepreneurial portraits / Sustainable Footprint / Eco System /The Thornico Building / Spot a Wealthy Investor
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FUTURE PRACTICE - KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIMENTS
Aarhus Municipality’s Climate Plan aims to develop showcase projects to provide inspiration both nationally and internationally. It also prepares the ground for collaboration between educational institutions and private companies in reaching that goal. These grand ambitions correspond well with the strategy of the Aarhus School of Architecture: Engaging through architecture. By educating socialminded architects, carrying out research in sustainability, Aarhus School of Architecture want to contribute to the further development of sustainable cities and forming future practices within the field.
SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT
It seems common ground to agree that ambitions for the future the city is that it is to contribute to new resources and improved living conditions. The aspects of sustainable urban development however can concern a broad spectrum from energy supply, waste management and transport to demographics, functional diffusion, choice of materials, biodiversity and rainwater collection. In this we have barely touched upon social and economic sustainability. A good deal of knowledge exists on many of these aspects, but as complexity and internal connections are a premise of urban development, we must accept that we have difficulty on agreeing on which indicators are most important to meet these ambitions and getting hold of valid data to assess proposals.
THE ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL’ S CONTRIBUTION
The broad definition of sustainability, the complexity and uncertainly in working with urban development gives the school the challenge in how to decide the priorities according to the specific situation, ask questions and help develop answers. “I don’t think of the Architecture School’s contribution towards sustainable urban development as a solely physical one”, explains City Architect of Aarhus, Stephen Willacy: The school has a responsibility to generate new knowledge and act as a bridge builder that passes new expertise on to society. Skills that can help us become CO2 neutral by 2030 are especially important. We need more demonstrations of how we can increase the energy efficiency of the city’s buildings in a way that also respects their cultural heritage. We also need research to engage user involvement. We are currently undertaking several larger urban development projects in Lisbjerg, Gellerup and the new harbour front. Here we need to cultivate a sense of ownership and create a good connection with the existing society of Aarhus. The collaboration on “demokracity” is an example of how we can work with these themes but it can also be achieved through actual “tests” out in the city that investigate how the town will react. As an example, there was a collaboration between the Architecture School and Aarhus Festival at Store Torv in 2012 and 2013 and the school also worked with the Municipality in connection with Tall Ships Race and Aarhus Cycling City,” he says.
NEW KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ALTERNATIVE FUTURES
Aarhus School of Architecture often has a greater degree of freedom to pursue new knowledge, to investigate alternative futures and test the limits of our standard preconceptions than the private offices and clients. The work of students and research is often carried out through completion and evaluation of various types of experiments. Claudia Clarbone, who is an associate professor elaborates, “in architecture, experiments and rough drafts are not just scientific, practical or even artistic products, they are a complex fusion of both the existing and the imagined criteria. The experiment requires a concrete step. The experiment’s aim is discovery. Discovery can consist of recycling or rearranging already existing solutions or knowledge. In every experiment that is carried out, opportunities will arise to try out new combinations, mixtures and solutions”. It is the capacity and the ability to dare to piece together new combinations of known and innovative solutions that can lead to interesting showcase projects. This means that the school’s research and teaching focus both on developing traditional knowledge of the many aspects of urban development and trying out new combinations that can lead to alternative futures of practice.
BIODIVERSITY AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
PhD student, Martin Odgaard uses a landscape ecological analysis to assess contemporary Danish urban development projects and their potential to reducing animal and plant species extinction. He explains, “this perspective is highly relevant in newer urban development projects Brendstrupkilen in Skejby and the new town areas near Lystrup and Elev. At these locations there is an overlap of natural and urban interests and so therefore a combined natural and town planning solution is necessary to promote biodiversity and create beautiful and varied landscapes in our towns”.
LANDSCAPE AS A LABORATORY FOR FUTURE PRACTICES
Assistant professor Stefan Darlan Boris has focused on the landscape as a laboratory for future practices. An important showcase project is the landscape laboratory Sletten, near Holstebro, which was the first of its kind of Denmark. The aim has been to establish new forested areas in connection with the development of new housing estates in Holstebro. The project is a place where citizens, researchers and practioners can meet and cooperate on the development and testing of new methods of planting and administering local forests that are included as a natural part of future urban development. Stefan sees the establishing of local surroundings as a significant requirement for developing sustainable cities. The project has broken ground to a collaboration with Aarhus Municipality to develop a local landscape laboratory where architecture students can experiment with new forms of local landscapes in and in this way, contribute to developing future practices.
In the spring of 2012 a group of students, led by associate professor Inge Vestergaard, worked in a disused industrial area in Barcelona, Barcelona@ 22. It is an industrial area currently undergoing transformation into a new sustainable combined housing, education and commercial neighbourhood. Whilst developing this area, particular consideration was paid to the existing values and to the addition of new settlements. The aim is to create an attractive neighbourhood for the contemporary human that strives for a sense of belonging, history and atmosphere in their local living and working environment. By looking out in the world, the students gain new ideas for sustainable urban development and what this can bring to Aarhus. For example, what is the implication of preserving existing elements in the industrial areas of Aarhus and how does this affect a sense of belonging and ownership for new citizens of the city?
Aarhus Municipality’s climate efforts includes increased cycling. This has been explored by a group of students from Urban Design and Design at Aarhus School of Architecture, Interaction Design at Aarhus University and Aarhus Municipality though the project “Happy Cycling City – Aarhus”. Through observations, interviews and sound bites it became clear that bicycle parking and maintenance were of great importance when it came to the experience of cycling. The students contributed with new solutions. In these solutions the underlying belief is that cycling is not merely a way to encourage more sustainable mobility but that it also makes for better cities and a better quality of life. It is therefore prudent to think of values such as enjoyment and behaviour when formulating cycling policy as well as when designing urban spaces and traffic solutions. The point is that when traffic behaviour is thought of in the greater context of the implications of transport policy, it might be possible to decrease energy consumption and make Aarhus a more fun and enjoyable place to be at the same time.
FLOODING AND DRINKING WATER
Whilst projects like happy cycling city are fairly easy to realize, others concern more speculative visions of the future that question our standard conceptions of the city. One of these projects has been produced by a student of the studio run by guest professor, CJ Lim from London and Maria Gaardsted, who is an teaching associate professor at the school. In the project a story is presented about the first refugees who are not fleeing war but global warming. The citizens of a town that has disappeared under water travel to Venice to save the town from a similar fate and to re-establish their own society. The proposal builds on knowledge about new ways of working with the water’s natural processes in relation to actual issues such as flooding, water collection and drinking water supply and pushes the knowledge into an illustrated experiment. The project challenges our expectation of what a historical city such as Venice could be able to do, and how it should look and function. It is the combination of research and the ability to produce alternative thoughts about a sustainable urban future that open the doors to the on going creation of new future practice.
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