WUSTL in Berlin
Public Space and Public Life
Survey and Workshop Outline
3/11/15 – 3/13/15
Teacher: Oliver Schulz
Learning from Berlin, learning from public life
Understanding public life and how people use and occupy the public realm of our cities is a prerequisite for proposing meaningful physical change in cities; it is the basis for deep urbanism. Following two intense days of observing how previous generations have built, destroyed and re-built the city of Berlin on 3/9 and 3/10, you will be subjecting yourself to a full-day survey experience exploring the public life in one of Berlin’s current development hotspots at the River Spree in Friedrichshain. Based on your readings of the site and the city you will develop sketch proposals for a public realm intervention.
Public life survey
You will survey and explore complex urban terrain with two intense public transit hubs operating at multiple levels and offering a range of transportation alternatives at the Ostbahnhof and Warschauer Strasse transit stations. National monuments (the Berlin Wall) form one of our site boundaries; an enormous inner-city multi-arena forms an anchor. The Spree riverfront, historic bridges, industrial buildings and a patchwork of recently developed an under-developed parcels form our 50-acre site.
The full-day survey on 3/11 will allow you to connect to the place. Starting by exploring established methods of recording public life through personal observation you will record people activities generating a personal database of representative information. With classmates and professors you will interrogate, interpret and discuss your findings. Over the two-day workshop on 3/12 and 3/13 you will sketch proposals for an intervention in the public realm that improves the experience, legibility and connectivity for people in this area. This intervention may include the transformation of the open spaces through art and signage, landscape architecture as well as the proposition of new building structures.
Assignment & assessment criteria
Through your work we will judge the depth in which you can connect to the place and your ability to synthesize the many cues provided by the complex urban environment of our site. Remember that positive change need not be expensive or of intrusive construction: often a new street crossing opportunity can give new access; a new vantage point can give people a new perspective; a new sitting opportunity can create an invitation allowing us to connect to people and place.
You will be forming teams crossing professional boundaries across art and humanities, architecture, landscape, urban design and we are interested in real collaboration and synthesis. How will you engage with others to make sure that 1+1 is more than 2? You will work hard and get under the skin of one of the most exciting cities in the world. You will present your proposition in a BLITZ presentation to a panel of WUSTL professors and other invited visiting guests resident in Berlin on 3/13.
Read this book. For those looking to practice an urban design discipline in the future it is the best book written on urban design and good preparation for the future. For the Berlin workshop and surveys it is invaluable preparatory reading:
If you would like to get a sense of Berlin past and present then watch these Berlin movies. From heavy and brilliant (top of list) to light-hearted (bottom of list). All great movies — download them and watch on your laptop en route to Berlin.
I look forward to meeting you all in Berlin on 3/9!
Public Life Survey Spring 2015, Berlin
WUSTL in Berlin