This spring, twelve Landscape Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning students participating in the Cities on Water study abroad program, along with Vincent deBritto and Cynthia Lapp, traveled from the land of 10,000 lakes to the land of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees, bridges, and storm surge barriers.
After six weeks of preparation in Minneapolis, they traveled to the Netherlands to spend four weeks studying, living, and designing around water issues.
During a design charette with Roel Posthoorn and Hesper Schutte from Natuurmonumenten (the Society for Preservation of Nature Monuments in the Netherlands), and landscape architect Jan Wouter Bruggenkamp, students created design schemes for 500 hectares of land and 500 hectares of water around the Markermeer.
"I signed up for Cities on Water because I believe that water issues are fast becoming some of the most pressing problems in our society," says Ryan Coates, a second year MLA student, originally from Winnipeg, Canada. He points out that in some cases, the Netherlands are completely controlling the hydrologic system, and they "use it to actually correct mistakes made in the past and improve the ecological function of the country."
Students later traveled to Venice, where they spent five weeks working in a studio on the ground of the Associazione Canottieri Giudecca, a rowing club on the island of Guidecca.
Elissa Brown, originally from Madison, Wisconsin, signed up for the program because she saw it as a chance to travel beyond the studio and focus on an increasingly important area of design: the interaction of water and urban spaces.
"As paradigms shift around climate, water management, energy, industry, and more, the concept of resiliency is becoming increasingly important." says Brown. And not just abroad. She notes that the water issues faced by the Midwest are in many ways different from what her classmates are learning about in the Netherlands and Venice.
"But," she says, "no less deserving of our attention."
More stories about landscape architecture: