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Two Penn State students who were involved in the winning projects are excited to see construction start on their designs

Studying a semester abroad is always an immensely enriching and fulfilling experience for all  AiB students. The friends, impressions, and cultural encounters they make along their way continue their existence in the students’ minds and in the stories they tell about their time abroad. In 2019, two students of the AiB Penn State Landscape Architecture program made sure to create something that not only lives on in their memories but also in the landscape of Germany – a reminder of the potential of international cooperation and the “bridge-building” characteristic of studying abroad.

During the spring semester of 2019, the Penn State students, led by Prof Emeritus Neil Korostoff, joined forces with students from the Nürtingen University of Applied Sciences (HfWU) in order to come up with design concepts for the competition “Water Gardens”, which was organized by the “Landesgartenschau Überlingen GmbH” and “Mainau Island 2019”. Under the instruction of M. Arch. Bruno Röver (AiB) and Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Rainer Sachse (HfWU), students developed projects symbolizing the idea of “bridge-building” that could function as two-piece installations. The installations were meant to work jointly at one location, but also separately from each other, emphasizing the bridge-building qualities of the pieces. The two projects “land-water, water-land” and “Switching Habitats” have been selected for realization by the jury of the Landesgartenschau GmbH.

The two Penn State students who were involved in the winning projects are excited to see construction start on their very own designs. “I am excited to have a design of mine integrated into the German landscape. In our school designs are all theoretical, so I am happy to see one being built”, says Natalie Duerr, emphasizing the impact of AiB’s hands-on teaching philosophy and with that the charette at Lake Constance during which the projects had been developed. For Sarah Jessica Harris, it has been the international collaboration particularly, that shaped her learning experience: “I remember, while working with the German students, I noticed how straightforward they were with giving feedback, opinions and input during the charette. With my team in particular, I think we worked well together and were able to quickly come up with new concepts and agree on what we wanted to push forward with to get the project done.” The project “land-water, water-land” consists of a two-ton piece of floating lawn at the shore of the Villengärten in Überlingen and its corresponding other half: a gaping hole of the same dimensions that one can find in the lawn of the palace garden on Mainau Island at Lake Constance. The project “Switching Habitats” is comprised of red nesting boxes in the shape of houses that are installed on poles at the shore in Überlingen and a corresponding walk-in nest made of wooden slats that is visible on Mainau island.

The bridge-building quality of the projects has not only been emphasized in the installations themselves but also through the successful cooperation of German and American students. Both Natalie Duerr and Sara Jessica Harris stress the importance of these types of international cooperation especially for the field of Landscape Architecture, since exposing oneself to new cultures, ideas, and ways of thinking is highly beneficial for the creative design process. As AiB, we constantly work on creating these cultural encounters in all fields of study to foster the international relationships between our students and to build bridges between the countries of our world.