HALBAN Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), a group of 15 students from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) recently travelled to Europe to study the potentials of reusing or revitalizing existing architecture built in Europe. The group led by Assistant Prof. Wayne Switzer, visited metropoles like Berlin and Brussels as well as smaller German cities like Cologne, Düren and Aachen. “Our students were encouraged to think in a circular, rather than linear way. We identified and visited not only buildings but also architectural practices which are engaged in resourceful design to minimize waste and embrace historical change,” said Assistant Prof. Wayne. At GUtech’s German partner-university RWTH Aachen University, the students were involved in a three-day workshop along with Master students from the chair of Cycle-Oriented Construction, Department of Architecture. During this collaboration, the students experimented with natural substances such as reed, hair or clay as a building material, which reinforced creative solutions when regarding the sustainability of buildings. “No buildings ever disappear, rather they are either disassembled and re-used or they become someone else’s problem, in the form of waste,” said Assistant Prof. Wayne. “It was great for us to see all the buildings in reality that we have been studying since the first semester. Every day we visited a different place. This widened our perspectives on the architecture and on sustainable construction,” said Noorayn Al Busaidi, 4th year UPAD student.
In the German capital Berlin the group visited a number of old and new buildings including the ‘House of Statistics’ (in German: ‘Haus der Statistik’), a multi-purpose building in the central district of Mitte that was used as the State Central Administration for Statistics of the GDR. A community action group that includes politicians, city planners and architects have regenerated the buildings that have been empty for over a decade. Now concerts, experimental theatre and exhibitions are conducted there. The group also visited the ‘Chapel of Reconciliation’ (in German: Kapelle der Versöhnung) built on the grounds of the former path of the Berlin Wall using earth from the very site of a formerly demolished church. In Brussels, the group met with a group of architects called ‘Rotor’, who sell salvaged building components and also reclaim buildings that are not used.
The group of students will exhibit their work and findings of the excursion during an exhibition held at GUtech’s architectural studios, from the 1st of January onwards. The exhibition will run throughout the semester.
(c) Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Wayne Switzer