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With their feet in the mud and dirty water, in an abandoned area on the edge of the city centre of Berlin, the first-year students of the Master programme Contextual Design worked on visionary plans for cities in transformation.
 
The extraordinary site in Berlin – the old rainwater basin next to the abandoned Tempelhof airfield - was discovered by Raumlabor, a collective of German architects. They decided this context would perfectly serve as a laboratory for imagining new ways of organizing the city’s infrastructure and brooding on novel ways to solve basic needs such as water supply and filtration.
 
By inviting a large group of creatives, both design professionals and students and scholars from more than twenty international universities (programmes ranging from design, art, architecture, urban studies to music and dance), Raumlabor paved the way for the birth of a great variety of unconventional ideas on city development. Apart from the many collaborative workshops, the site would become a vivid context for “speculative lectures, discursive dinners, seminars in the rain, hot tub discussions, the kids’ laboratory program or talk about water filtration systems, write a lexicon, experience music for mud pits, test out new forms of turmoil, become a teacher yourself and professionalize your own private performative urbanism”. 
 
This adventurous lab was named the FLOATING UNIVERSITY.
 
Contextual Design chose to embrace this project full heartedly as we cherish the notion of self-organizations to ensure a vivid and liveable society, and because we applaud the engagement with real world issues, while not abandoning our aim to let the CD students follow their fantasies.
 
In the year preceding the Floating University, the Raumlabor architects researched the potential of the site, created a plan for an open scaffolding structure, which would serve as the base for smaller and larger interventions by the other creatives they attracted with their plans. Together with the architecture students from UDK, the DAE master students were among the first guests to visit the site and work there for a week.
 
Guided by Raumlabor’s Benjamin Foerster Baldenius and Amelie Schindler, the students had prepared their ideas in a short workshop in Eindhoven, March 2018. In April they left for Berlin, to realize their projects in the muddy rainwater basin. Here they were guided by Foerster Baldenius, Thilo Folkerts, Florian Stirnemann, and other Raumlabor team members.
 
Apart from the sheer fun of collaborating on such an adventurous plan, sharing all meals together, getting dirty, very very tired, tanned by the sun, they succeeded in creating a range of imaginative projects in the temporary structure. These ranged from alternative solutions for water filtration, to the clever production and collection of energy by way of a large swing above the mud pool. The energy produced, in turn, was used for an intricate heating system to warm up the water of a wooden bathtub. One group built small islands amidst the water, which might be acquired and furnished by the users of the surrounding city gardeners, while another group created a gym of which each element was linked to a water supply system for the bathroom. Then there were alternative solutions for water flooding areas and small watering systems for plants, both of which were closely tight to a person’s body, to ensure a closer bond between people and plants.
 
The Floating University welcomed many other students and professionals after the Eindhoven students had left, and these will further the projects our students started, as well as invent new plans. From May 4th onwards, the location is open for the public and will thus inform a large audience of these intricate experiments with alternative, resilient forms of urban practice.
 
Participating students master department Contextual Design: Mona Alcudia, Colette Aliman, Anne Hofmann Andersen, Rawad Baaklini, Alex Blondeau, Gijs de Boer, Stéphane Borel, Tobias Bridger, Vera van der Burg, Ellen Chan, Konstantina Chondrou, Gianmaria Della Ratta, Ianis Dobrev, Julie Eriksen, Margaretha Feherova, Colin Keays, Hansol Kim, Lulu Lin, Etienne Marc, Micheline Nahra, Dorian Renard, Marie Rime, Johanna Seelemann, Kurina Sohn, Maurik Stomps, Yanjin Wu
 
Guidance: Benjamin Foerster Baldenius, Thilo Folkerts, Amelie Schindler, Florian Stirnemann, and others (Raumlabor)

More information can be found on this website: floatinguniversity.org
 
 
 
Published: 24-May-2018 14:14
  • FLOATING UNIVERSITY BERLIN – STUDENTS MASTER PROGRAMME CONTEXTUAL DESIGN

    Picture by Thilo Folkerts

  • FLOATING UNIVERSITY BERLIN – STUDENTS MASTER PROGRAMME CONTEXTUAL DESIGN

    Picture by Thilo Folkerts

  • FLOATING UNIVERSITY BERLIN – STUDENTS MASTER PROGRAMME CONTEXTUAL DESIGN

    Picture by Thilo Folkerts

  • FLOATING UNIVERSITY BERLIN – STUDENTS MASTER PROGRAMME CONTEXTUAL DESIGN

    Picture by Thilo Folkerts

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