Update #2: Deers, Horses, and Professor Campbell – Oh My!

Ah, how the Berlin summer is truly beautiful! Well, kind of. Most of the days since my last post have been spent inside or under the protection of an umbrella, but if you like the rain, or the way the city looks in the rain, it is not a bad deal.


In the past two weeks, my internship at the International Garden Exhibition (IGA) has started in full-swing, as I work there 4 days a week, usually 5-6 hours per day, and I really enjoy it. It has allowed me to see how a garden exhibition functions from the inside, what it takes, what kind of up-keep it needs, and it has allowed me to see how people from the city react to this open space and exposure to nature. For example, this past week, we had a group of children come to an event called “Exploring and Discovering Nature” in a section of the park that is designed to emulate a forest. Not only does it look like a forest, but one really feels as if he or she is in the middle of the woods. It is quiet, shady, and filled with animals and trees and bushes. One child screamed when we saw a deer, as she had never seen one in her life. Another child had never seen a horse before. This was one was little bit of a mind bend for me, as I grew up in Texas, and on the way to school, I would daily pass different horses and farms. It was one of the moments where I recognized why these spaces are actually important, and it was so special to me to be able to see the tremendous effect it had on the children, who live in the city and rarely get the opportunity to truly connect with nature.


This will be valuable information for my research, as it gives me a personal relation and context to the importance of environmental spaces in urban settings, as well as the actual perspective of how these spaces are feasible and well-maintained. Another benefit in the coming two weeks will be the ability to speak with the architects and planners of the actual park. At the moment, we are just organizing schedules and seeing who would be able to speak with me, but I think any chance to speak with someone deeply involved in the intense planning of this space will be huge benefit to my research.


Other than doing hands-on work at IGA, I have spent the majority of my time doing research in the library or online about both IGA and my next case study – the Energy-Plus Housing. I have compiled at the moment quite a lot about IGA and am just waiting to “finish it off” with the interviews and questions with those who work at IGA. The Energy-Plus Housing development is the next case-study I will do. I would like to focus on these housing developments, as it presents a nice compliment to the International Garden Exhibition, which is a place for people to come together as a community and relax, while housing in another important side of societal life. These Houses create energy by having people live in them, and the design was started in the Germany city of Freiburg. As it was successful there, the city is now looking to implement the design in Berlin. I studied the houses in Freiburg for a class last semester, and I am looking forward to seeing how these houses in Berlin differ or compare to the other developments.


I also skyped with my advisor, Professor Bruce Campbell, a true delight! Professor Campbell and I have known each other since we traveled to Potsdam last year as part of a William and Mary Summer Abroad program. He has been extremely helpful with my project, and I just wanted to have his opinion on my current progress of my research. He helped me organize my ideas, and gave me some plans for the next few weeks. We also reminisced and talked about our mutual love of Berlin together. I am extremely thankful to have him as an advisor, and we have made more plans to skype in the next coming weeks, as well as the usual communication over email, as I update the draft of my paper.


My goal for the next coming days is to solidify my choice for my third case study, which has proven to be a bit of a challenge. It is not a challenge because there are not enough case studies to chose from, but in fact there are too many! There are so many spaces and buildings I would like to study and receive access to, but in the moment I am hoping to focus on the most beneficial one for my project. The theme of the third case study will be an office space or building that functions in an environmental manner. I believe with the three choices for the case studies that they will provide my project a truly well-rounded view of environmental design in urban planning as I will be covering the use of natural spaces such as parks, environmental housing, and environmental work spaces: all of which are integral needs in an urban society.


As you can hopefully see, I have really been enjoying doing my research In Berlin. I am learning so many new things, and am also able to see on of my favorite cities everyday in a new light. I am already sad about leaving the city in about a month, but hopefully I will be back soon!

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