MUDD22 International Studios
New York & Berlin
International Studios, 2016-2017
In November 2016, the MUDD 22 students participated in a three-week International Design Studio, with the option to travel to either Berlin or New York. In Berlin, students were hosted at the Technische Universität (TU) Berlin, working in teams and interacting with TU Berlin students to create urban design frameworks waterfront re-developments along the Spree River. In New York, students were hosted in the offi ce of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) and worked in teams to create urban design frameworks for the surrounding neighbourhoods
of the Hudson Yards re-development. Before leaving Sydney, students researched their respective cities, analyzed the current urban policy and financial models.
In just three weeks, students were challenged to quickly learn about the development culture of the city and create proposals that addressed the specific design brief and also aligned with overall city visions that have been proposed. Informative city walks, site visits, design critiques and lectures helped to create an interactive and dynamic learning environment. Being on the ground in both cities allowed students to engage with the social structures and street level experiences. The creative nature of Berlin’s citizens provided students with an opportunity to develop urban design frameworks that were sensitive to culture and value of Berlin. Furthermore, through the in-depth interaction with the drama and political drivers of New York, the students were able to develop frameworks which addressed New York’s spatial political economy.
The experience of the city was indeed as imagined – a city of culture, arts, fashion, music and design fi lled within the
cityscape of skyscrapers.
Travelling daily from a typical 20th century terrace house at Upper Manhattan to the Studio of Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) at downtown W42nd Street, gave a whole new distinctive living experience, as an international student, as an intern, and more astonishingly, as a New Yorker. Walking along the streets of Manhattan was full of surprises at every corner, experiencing the contrasting built forms of 19th century tenement lofts to 20th century stepped-back skyscrapers and the 21st century modern towers. The opportunity to work at KPF’s offi ce was a great privilege to experience the practice of the design profession. In particular, the practice of architecture at a greater urban context where integration was vital among the architects, planners and other built environment professions. Within these diverse situations in different cities that we developed in the MUDD program, we understood one of the most important principles in urban design; seek to re-develop the city by promoting social interaction and good city form. It is acknowledged that cities are facing new difficulties that include environmental, infrastructure but also living challenges; within the MUDD program we develop new perspectives to interpret these situations and give a possible solution based on design matters by maintaining the model of good cities.
Being involved in a complex urban development project of New York, facing the real-world problems while solving one of the greatest challenges of the city of infrastructure capacity, provided great motivation and assurance to take upon the role as an urban designer with the responsibility to shape places for better communities.
The International studio at Berlin was the highlight of our course. It gave us a chance to learn and design in a whole
new city, going by the vision and culture of the city. This broadened our understanding on the various urban design
methods and tools used internationally.
Our approach to understanding the city began with a city walk, where we were on ground interacting with the built
environment. Walking through the streets that housed the historic architecture, it gave us an idea on how tightly linked the urban design of the city is, to its history. The boat ride along the River Spree, helped us gain an insight on how the city has transformed post the unification. We were guided by many professionals throughout our journey who gave us a complete understanding of the city and this was a very
valuable learning experience. The presentations by Karl Fischer, The Senate of Berlin and Alijoscha Hofmann helped better our knowledge of the city, the way it functions and the spatial political economy.
Through the course we had the opportunity to interact with the students of Technische Universität Berlin, who presented the various water sensitive models that could be used in our framework proposals. This interaction was vital as it gave us a platform to discuss new ideas and learn more about the city and how it functions from the locals themselves.
Having stayed in Berlin for 3 weeks and commuting using the local transport, it did help us understand the city from
the perspective of a local. This helped us in formulating the design strategies and understanding the community better. The support and critique from Karl Fischer and Scott Hawken did strengthen our design proposals which were much appreciated by the Jury.