Silent Conversation is a collaborative writing methodology that was developed by Gilly Karjevsky during her residency at Floating University Berlin in 2018. The main purpose of Silent Conversation is to manifest terminological thinking and the production of terms relating to the practice on the site, with the site. A public process which does not only describe elements of practice, but also embodies the values of the project – the Silent Conversation methodology facilitates horizontal, experimental, inclusive contributions to the growing lexicon of practice at the Floating.
Seven public sessions of Silent Conversation took place during the summer of 2018, together with lectures, conversations, and theoretical workshops which invited students and visitors to contribute to the lexicon process. The idea was to capture and name the knowledge produced on the site by its many actors: the project team, the professors and students from visiting universities, visitors and neighbours, artists and builders, gardeners, as well as many flora fauna and algae.
Since first practiced in summer 2018, the methodology has evolved and been adapted by different practitioners to fit critical explorations in several university and workshop settings. Through these developments, Silent Conversation has become a broad, easily-applicable artistic methodology for thinking together, for becoming otherwise, for group-instituting.
In a Silent Conversation session a group sits together in a circle, in silence, while each participant writes a list of terms or ideas on her paper. Then the papers are passed to the left, and each participant comments on the list they have received from their neighbour. The passing of the papers to the left continues until all of the lists have been commented on, and each participant has their own paper back in their hands. Then a second round starts by writing a more in-depth text, a term definition, or a flashed-out idea, and a second round of commenting takes place. By the end of the session, each participant has written their own term, and has contributed to all other terms written in the group. In this way, many parallel discussions take place in the silent group. All voices get heard on the page, distorting and playing with the notions of authorship, the linearity of language, hierarchy of knowledge, and plain discursiveness. A Silent conversation is a very intense conversation at the end of which, despite no words being spoken, many words have been said.
The terms and definitions from the Silent Conversations offer a language of practice and capture the physical process of reflection. As terms and comments are written or sketched on each page, a network of thoughts is being collectively formulated. When you look at a page, you can see different relationships emerge between the central writing and the comments in a way that complexifies the knowledge hierarchy. In some pages the first written text stands out clearly, in the middle or the top, while comments, highlights, sketches appear around it. In other pages it is hard to make out the original text from the comments that followed. On each page, the process of feedback, reflection, and conversation is made visual, and captures a raw, unfinished, imperfect process of communication. It is the heart of the Silent Conversation methodology that it does not produce a product, but frames a process, thus coining new terms, but never truly finalizing their definitions.
Agreement on Philosophy
Algae Desire Path
Anti-floaties and Non-floaters
If we want to be, act or think sustainably we have to connect our body and our mind, present, future and past. Being sustainable is more than the attempt to meet the needs of our environment and species living next to us. It is more than caring for each other. Is acting sustainable maybe a promise? The promise to sustain something, to keep it going and stabilize it? We should think about more than ourselves. Everyday we are making connections or relationships with others. And it doesn’t matter if this otherness is human or non-human. It is the act of being transparent and honest, being approachable and expecting and allowing others to be and do the same. Furthermore we have to except that there were, are and will be moments and situations that extend beyond ourselves. There is this existing long-lasting interconnectedness between human and nature and we really have to act within this realization of this togetherness. And in the end we also have to try to be emotional and sensitive, to be aware of our surrounding and the places we live in.
Believing in Making
Carpet and Glue
A change midwife defines a person that facilitates the process of change, the in-between person who translates the thoughts of change into something accessible to other people.
The term midwife was first used by Sigmund Freud’s patients when they called him the midwife of their thoughts because he helped them realize their cravings and desires that they didn’t realize themselves. Freud convinced his patients that they have a sexual attraction to their parents of the opposite sex, They saw him as a midwife of understanding themselves, while he could just as well seduce them to believe so.
the term midwife was reused by the architect Bjarke Ingels who founded the internationally awarded BIG. Bjarke Ingels uses the metaphor of architects as midwives to explain their role in society; you could just as well ask how architects can be able to find out what we really want? and the architect’s role is to help shape and define these thoughts and make them into reality whether that is in creating narratives or in building something that represents what they want.
In our situation in the Hasenschänke and Hasenbänk project, we try to be the midwife of the sustainable transformation of the neighborhood and urge the actors to be change-midwives as well. through spatial analysis we saw that the main feature of the Hasenschänke is slowness but also the desire of the actors to escape the rapidly changing neighborhood around them in terms of prices, local practices and gentrification.
To lead the neighborhood into a sustainable transformation we need to interpret what the actors value about these slow spaces in which they see a low possibility to change. Our role as architects comes as the facilitators of the feelings and ideas of the actors to interpret and visualize them and present them as means for sustainable change.
In that process actors themselves can be midwives of change and a powerful means of sustainable transformation and pass the local knowledge to the rest of their neighborhood or community.
and so on.
A general definition of Phobia is a ‘persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it’. The change we are talking about has close links to the Gentrification, which is the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste In Berlin the affordable rents of the past have slowly begun to disappear as the city continues to undergo a rapid post-reunification transformation. Now international investors have set their sights on the German capital as typically working-class districts like Neukölln which has traditionally had large immigrant populations and now become increasingly popular with middle-class inhabitants.This often results in displacement of residents into more affordable neighbourhoods.
The term changeophobia is based on our analysis of ‘Hasenschänke’, a mixture of a “Späti”, beer garden and cafe located in the center of the park Hasenheide. Here, it seems like, the time has stopped compared to the rapidly changing neighbourhood around the park. The concrete structure from the 60’s didn’t get renovated, the simple plastic chairs didn’t get replaced and also the drinks and food on offer remain the same. The charm of a typical ‘Berliner Kneipe’ got preserved and this is what everyone seems to embrace a lot. Based on several interviews with regular customers only the clientele changed within the past years. There is a new wave of younger, international people, resulting from the gentrification in the neighbourhoods around. Though, this subtle change doesn’t seem to have any impact on the practices of Hasenschänke. Applied to this case study of Hasenschänke, changeophobia can be understood as an exaggerated fear of the “unknown change” in the neighbourhood of Hasenheide, located in Berlin-Neukölln.
Nevertheless, from our interview study at Hasenschänke we noticed a tendency of being very protective of the space and a fear of change in general. Surprisingly, we could observe that the fear of something changing doesn’t only apply to the long-term visitors but also to the younger generation. As a clear result, the customers of this cafe/beer garden/Späti are refusing any kind of change as small and benefiting as it may be. Even the smallest suggestion, like having ashtrays on the table to keep the space cleaner, got rejected. The protective community of Hasenschänke clearly has a strong wish to keep the place as it is in order to preserve the slowness of the space. I agree, it is important to keep the nostalgia behind this place but maybe there could be a balance found with an intervention that could benefit the community.
The wilting, yellowing lettuces in the shadows of the kitchen storeroom at the FUB brought the word “care“ to my mind. They were leftovers from the Wednesday Stammtisch, came through food sharing, and now, as their original carers will not return till the following Wednesday, left to their own devices. Sprawling spaces also breed sprawling minds: used plates and cups scattered around, the wind blowing bits of paper into the water, while we were looking elsewhere.
The German word Zuwendung contains meanings of care and attention. In educational settings there are often things you are supposed to channel your attention toward: the person standing in the front, loud voices, projected screens, activities listed in the schedule. Caring begins with noticing, especially those things not already in the spotlight. I noticed that at FUB, I often forget to drink warm water, or seek the solitude I needed for my own thoughts to grow. One morning Marjetica arrived and said: “I need 10 minutes on my own, then I can be with you.“ Noticing begins with oneself.
Then there is noticing things outside of oneself. How does the young duck family with their home in the reeds, feel about the human racket that has been going on since spring? Or the ravens who comes down to feed among the dried up algae? Or the fox who live in the bushes? Are we encroaching on their homes and playing fields? Who could understand their utterances?
Let’s return to the human world for now:
‘To care about what one sees in the world leads to mobilizing one’s creative powers.’
(Richard Sennett, Conscience of the Eye, 1992, p xiii)
Sweeping the kitchen floor at FUB, I wondered, is this mobilizing my “creative powers“? I couldn’t help but feel the different values given to kinds of “work“. Cleaning, maintaining are considered as humble, mundane, invisible. The cleaners are hardly ever credited. Compare this to events advertised on posters: innovation! creativity! intellectual discourses!
Could the FUB be a place where people don’t come to consume and use (its events and resources), but a place where people participate in and collectively care for?
(anonymous entry from the collective writing Lexicon workshop)
Atelier Bow-Wow wrote of a tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo where, despite the deep-frying in the open kitchen, all the surfaces are immaculately clean. They ruminate that this involved seeing space from the perspective of the fine oil particles, that the act of cleaning is a phenomenological perception of space, a kind of “spatial practice“, where our normal corporeality is redefined, where “a new spatiality emerges through corporeal sensations as you check every nook and cranny of the room.“
(Atelier Bow-Wow, Echo of Space / Space of Echo’, INAX Publishing, Tokyo, 2009)
I feel that a new appreciation is being called for here. Or perhaps an ancient one, going back to Zen and meditation. I felt a resonance to Bow-Wow’s words that afternoon where I attended to the lettuces in the dark: sifting through the boxes of rotting leaves with my hands–a curious tactility–I picked out the leaves with liveliness in them. I soaked them in baths of fresh water, and washed the dirt off them, three times, taking care to handle them with tenderness. After some time, they seemed happy, sparkling, ready for their transformation at dinner time.
I wonder what the lettuces dreamt of… *
Could co-caring be a new system not centered on the production of abstract values or material objects but a system focused on respect, support, enablement and exchange?
(anonymous entry from the collective writing Lexicon workshop)
* “Vegetables have spirits; the spirits have dreams. When you eat them, you help their dreams come true.” Kushi Michio, pioneer of modern macrobiotics (https://tinyevolutions.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/vegetable-dreams/)
Dancing on Water
The term dead silence serves as the colloquial superlative comparison of the term silence. A condition that in a world of everlasting availability and constant noise seems difficult to encounter. While the term is commonly used to describe a situation of a somehow troublesome and eerie silence, it seems that its absence, at least in metropolitan areas, has led to a lack of and a crave for it. This could be a possible explanation for why more and more people in Berlin spend their recreational time at the cities cemeteries. These places atmospheres, where the dead silence gets a literal touch, seem to satisfy this need for stillness.
When we conducted our research on the graveyards that are situated at the Bergmannstraße in Berlin Kreuzberg, we learned that, to our surprise, the atmosphere was quite contrary to what we expected. Where humans rest in peace nature gently starts to replace the cities noises. The wind waves through the thick leafage and birds and insects become the most prominent sources of sound. The space develops its very own and specific calmness that mourners, parents with baby strollers and book readers enjoy alike. People we spoke to specifically praised the disconnection of the enclosure to the surrounding residential areas and even proposed that we should try to export it to other places close-by.
In hindsight the negative connotation of the expression dead silence seems no longer up to date. In former times no sound at all might have been a sign for danger or the like, today we cherish these moments. So it might be time for a new interpretation that suits the dead silence’s esteem. It should express the beauty of the absence of almost every anthropogenic sound, as found on our perimeter of analysis. Dead silence as we experienced it is space bound. It is generated from the combination of overgrowing nature, the tombstones, the respect for the accumulated history and the island like position that cemeteries have within the city. Where people get sick from noise, oversharing and and social stress it’s good to know about these hideaways.
Drops of Jupiter haha – Decisions too many too long – Dynamics
Experimental Knowledge Exchange
Ex-pert // Non-Ex-pert
Fete de la Nachbarschaft
‚Fête de la Nachbarschaft‘ is a combination of the french words ‚fête de la‘, which can be translate into ‚feast of the‘ and the german word ‚Nachbarschaft‘, which means ‚neighborhood‘. The famous ‚fête de la musique‘ connects people in more than 340 cities worldwide, including 24 cities in Germany. Anyone can join in and it does not cost entry, because all musicians perform without a fee. The music festival takes place all over the city, open air as well as indoor, in the streets or on stage. It has become increasingly popular since 1982.
Albert Hunter, a sociologist says that a neighborhood is a social spatial unit of social organization… larger than a household and smaller than a city‘. The social space defined by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu says, that it depends on the cultural, economic and social background that each of us has to interact with each other. Contributing the definitions to the ‚neighborhood‘ around the southern part of the Tempelhofer Feld as an example, it was noticeable, after some interviews with people, who are living, but mostly working there that there is no link between them.
On the one hand there are those temporary actors, like the truck driver on the Columbia Damm, the Tempohomes and the circus on the Tempelhofer Feld and the Floating University.
On the other hand, there are the permanent actors, like a police department, allotment gardens, a sport center a mosque, and residentials. Walking through the area it is observed that each area has its own architectural or natural border language, by growing hedges, building fences or walls. This important fact does not lead to a socializing or interacting between the actors from the different parts, even if they are living very close to each other. By realizing that all the listed actors are for themselves social space units, with their own rules and processes, it seemed to be clear, that there is less relation with each other.
The idea of connecting people from all over the world, with their different cultural, religious and economic backgrounds, created the word ,fête de la Nachbarschaft‘. Having a fete with all the actors from the area, where the people can get to know each other and benefit from each other for the future. Like the basic idea of the ‚fête de la musique‘ which exists since three decades and continues until today, even if there are a lot of changes in the world.
(1) Lots of universities are slowly sinking, this one, the Floating University by raumlabor
in Berlin near the ancient airport is making a place emerge out of a dump: just what is
needed to „live in the ruins“ as Tsing argues.
(2) From May to September 2018 raumlaborberlin will create a visionary inner city offshore laboratory for collective, experimental learning. With numerous partners we will experiment with knowledge transfers and the formation of transdisciplinary networks to challenge routines and habits of urban practices – Floating University Berlin. The site is an almost forgotten place in the center of Berlin: An old, concrete rainwater basin right next to the Tempelhof airfield. A third landscape on the verge of disapearance. Here we will build a generic structure, a drilling platform for a scarce urban resource: sensitivity for decision-making.
Students and scientists from more than twenty international universities will come together with artists from all over the world, local experts, architects, musicians, and dancers. Together, they will research and investigate the daily routines and practices of urban living and formulate visions and ideas for a better future city In the territory around the rainwater basin Floating University is looking for contemporary, resilient forms of urban practice with a visionary focus on an unknown future. In April, students and their teachers from Berlin, Europe and elsewhere will collaborate on building the campus: learning spaces, workshops, an auditorium, a performative laboratory tower for experimental water filtration systems, a discursive kitchen, a bar as a protest generator and a fast food greenhouse. Spaces are created for exchanging knowledge within experimental, educational formats. A place where transdisciplinary research teams and diverse positions come together to tackle the complex questions of urban practices. During three ‘Open Weeks’ in May, July and September we invite the local and international public to explore the rainwater basin and the campus, as well as to participate in workshops, lectures, seminars, hot tub talks, concerts and performances.
[self description- raumlaborberlin]
(3) Floating University and inner city offshore laboratory for collective experimental learning. It is located in a polluted rainwater basin connected with the former Tempelhof Airport. My role at the Floating University is as the ‘Water Filtration and Infiltration’ artist in residence. In this capacity I help design the University’s water filtration system. Floating University is actually a university. There are architecture and design programs from 20 different universities, who travel to Floating University to use it as their temporary satellite campus for different courses. (…)
A fundamental paradigm in our research at Floating University is to emulate Mother Earth’s water cycles rather than mimic Corporate Man’s linear sewer pipes. Water will not fall beneath the streets like garbage into landfills. Rather, water flows down the drain, undergoes organic filtration, and flows back out the spout. The University uses its water to meet its needs – and the re-uses it to re-meet its needs. (…)
(4) Die Floating University ist eine temporäre Hochschule in Berlin und will
Stadtentwicklung für alle zugänglich machen.
[aspekte, ZDF ]
(5) It is a temporary laboratory where thoughts and ideas flow and are shared, an interdisciplinary think tank for concepts of future collective urban living. The open architecture is as fun as it is inspiring, with an intelligent drainage system using the water from the basin and rain water which feeds several microcultures.
(6) Im April 2018 entsteht an einem magischen Ort, neben dem Tempelhofer Feld, versteckt hinter Columbiadamm, Sporthallen und Kleingartenparzellen, im Regenwasserrückhaltebecken des ehemaligen Flughafengeländes die Floating University Berlin. Gemeinsam mit den InitiatorInnen und Studierenden von über 20 Universitäten aus Europa, USA und Südamerika bauen wir nicht nur die physische Struktur, sondern auch den sozialen Raum. Die Floating University ist ein Experiment zur Entwicklung von neuen Formen des Zusammenlebens im Urbanen. In diesem einzigartigen offshore Laboratorium untersuchen wir die Alltagsroutine des städtischen Lebens und machen Vorschläge für ihre Neugestaltung. Neben einer schwebende Aula und eine Kaskade für Wasserfiltration spielt die Küche als Ort des sorgfältigen Haushaltens mit Ressourcen und kollektive Wissensproduktion eine zentrale Rolle. Während des Sommersemesters zieht das
(7) Im April 2018 entsteht an einem magischen Ort, neben dem Tempelhofer Feld, versteckt hinter Columbiadamm, Sporthallen und Kleingartenparzellen, im Regenwasserrückhaltebecken des ehemaligen Flughafengeländes die Floating University Berlin. Gemeinsam mit den InitiatorInnen und Studierenden von über 20 Universitäten aus Europa, USA und Südamerika bauen wir nicht nur die physische Struktur, sondern auch den sozialen Raum. Die Floating University ist ein Experiment zur Entwicklung von neuen Formen des Zusammenlebens im Urbanen. In diesem einzigartigen offshore Laboratorium untersuchen wir die Alltagsroutine des städtischen Lebens und machen Vorschläge für ihre Neugestaltung. Neben einer schwebende Aula und eine Kaskade für Wasserfiltration spielt die Küche als Ort des sorgfältigen Haushaltens mit Ressourcen und kollektive Wissensproduktion eine zentrale Rolle. Während des Sommersemesters zieht dasRaumproduktion-Studio der UdK von der Hardenbergstraße in die Floating University Berlin um. Im Rahmen des Entwurfs im Sommersemester 2018 bauen, betreiben, überschwemmen und füllen 15-20 Architektur-Studierende die Küche der Floating University mit Leben. Ziel dieses Design-Build ist einerseits die Küche zu bauen, zu testen und zu verbessern. Dabei wird der 1:1 Gestaltungsprozess zu einem konstanten Experiment und Hands-On Labor. Die Küche wird nicht nur ein Ort zum Kochen, sondern auch das Hauptelement des Gestaltungsprozesses einer gelebten sozialen Praxis. Sie wird zum Ort der Reflektion während gleichzeitig Wasserspülen und Abwasserinfrastrukturen gebaut werden; zu einem Raum, in dem das System hinter der Essensproduktion hinterfragt wird; zu einer Situation, in der Wissen mit der Öffentlichkeit produziert und geteilt wird. In diesem Kontext wird das Küchenteam jeden Dienstag zum Gastgeber für die internationalen Teilnehmenden – mit einer Einladung zum thematischen Stammtisch. Die Küche wird dann ein Ort zum Austausch von Ideen, Konzepten und vielleicht der Beginn von etwas ganz neuem. Wir nutzen die Küche als Ort für alles. Wir bauen, diskutieren, analysieren und planen. Unsere Küche wird entsprechend umgemodelt zu einem Vortragssaal, einem Atelier oder einer Profi-Küche. In den Planungsphasen nehmen wir die Küchen- Perspektive als Ausgangspunkt um die Wohn- und Koch-Formen um die Floating University zu analysieren und zu Kartieren. Wir beginnen das Semester mit einer Wanderung von der UdK an die Floating university, unterwegs besuchen wir spannende Koch-Orte in Berlin und starten unser off-shore-Projekt mit einem gemeinsamen PicNic on site.
‘Foodbrücke’ is a term which contents the two words ‘Food’ and the German word for ‘Bridge’ and describes a few linkages. First of all, the linkage on a time-based level, which means that it is connecting the past, the present and the future. Moreover, it describes a linkage on the level of ‘Transformation’ with our tool of interest ‘Food’ as a catalyst to target our desired intentions such as connecting the neighbourhood, exchanging local knowledge and many more. The neologism is originally developed from the so-called ‘Berliner Luftbrücke’ which served as food supply from Western Allies at Tempelhofer Field. For the victorious powers it was seen as an investment for a better future. ‘Foodbrücke’ also implies a future-oriented vision of a better and more sustainable neighbourhood around our area of interest – the Tempelhofer Field area. The word ‘Foodbrücke’ emphasizes the role and function of Food in our context, which serves as a communication and connection tool.
Food plays an important role in people’s everyday life. And it plays a more and more important role in social and political issues and the media. We can recognize an increased awareness of food’s significance within our contemporary society and culture. What we consume, how we consume and prepare it and with whom gets a form of communication which is reach with meaning. There is a strong linkage between food and communication. The British Anthropologist Mary Douglas defines food as a code which can express patters about social relationships. In the end, we can say that food functions symbolically as a communicative practice by which we create, manage and share meanings with others. Understanding culture, habits, rituals and tradition can be explored through food and the way others perceive it.
That’s why we build bridges through food with our ‘Foodbrücke’. Bridges which overcome barriers in our society and bridges to solve problems on our planet or at least to sensitize the people and make them aware of the problems. These mental bridges consist of sustainable aspects – on first hand sustainable aspects in our society through neighbourhood communication and neighbourhood bonds, on the other hand a sustainable economy and food sustainability. A physical structure will represent these mental bridges – our ‘Foodbrücke’ Mobile, which is a bike trailer consisting of a foldable table and thermo-storages for cooked food. Our intention is to cook together with different neighbours, get to know their cultures, their own food codes and exchange them among each other during cooking actions and on our mobile bike and table.
In relation to the history of the ‘Berliner Luftbrücke’ which celebrated its 70th-years anniversary, the term ‘Foodbrücke’ wants to focus on ‘a great transformation’ and a large impact in the neighbourhood through a small-scale project. In times of urban growth and rapid changes, less attention is paid to a social and sustainable life. Cities grow and grow and digitalisation makes it easier for us humans to forget about social contacts and communication. Our urban intervention ‘Die Foodbrücke’ is working against these negative side effects of urbanisation and digitalisation.
Flow in Still Water
The term „Food Checkpoint“ is composed of the two words „Food“ and „Checkpoint“. ‘Food Checkpont’ describes the last station where one can buy food and drinks before entering an urban area with no local supply possibilities.
While „Food“ does not necessarily have to be explained, the term „Checkpoint“ has a longer history and deeper meaning. „Checkpoint“ is an english term, which can be used as well in german and describes mainly a control situation at border crossings. Furthermore a checkpoint can also be a point within areas with the aim to control traffic participants or trace wanted persons. Generally it has a negative connotation due to its nature of the exercise of power which checkpoints represents. Furthermore it is related to the situation of waiting and identifying oneself before entering another country, another area or simply another situation. In the Berlin context the term Checkpoint is highly connected with the former border crossing in Berlin named „Checkpoint Charlie“. It was one of the most famous border crossings between the Soviet and the American Sector in Berlin. A famous sign is nowadays still remembering the situation at the checkpoint saying „You are leaving the American Sector“. It was a point where two worlds clashed: The wealthy American Sector with a western lifestyle and welfare on the one side and struggling Soviet Sector with nourishment scarcity and discontent.
Connecting the term Checkpoint to the context of Food it links the idea of two very different food situations. One area is an urban context where you can find shops, cafes, bars, restaurant and other local supplies to provide oneself with necessary groceries within a couple of minutes. The other area are urban settings in which local supplies become rare which means one have to prepare and plan ahead before entering these parts of a city.
A precise example for that is the area around the Tempelhofer Feld. Due to its historical function local supplies where not needed around the airport. Nowadays the airport is gone, people spend a lot of time in the park or even live there – but still there is no local supply. That means before entering the vast park of Tempelhofer Feld one has to plan ahead: Do I have enough water or drinks with me? Do I have snacks? Tissues? Battery charge? Talking to different people one story almost always pops up: Once they were in the middle of Tempelhofer Feld, the sun was burning and they had no water left.
This is where the Food Checkpoints comes in. They are located around the Tempelhofer Field like in Schillerkiez or at Südstern, preferably next to a metro station or at least alongside the walking path to the park. They remind the park goers they need to plan ahead and rather take a Mate more with them. These are the last supply points before entering a vast area of nothingness and act as warning to the border crosser: You are leaving the lively, well-supplied and dense urban sector.
Out of the combination of our local experience and global research we created the Utopia of an independent food production city, where everybody would be empowered to produce their own food:
Cities are where we find large concentrations of consumers for the end-product of our food systems and it is the responsibility of cities and their residents to ensure food-security. This is increasingly recognised by cities themselves, as shown by city adherence to food-networks as well as international city agendas on food – food security and nutrition are now at the centre of urban and territorial sustainability. Urban agriculture has therefore shown its potential ability to strengthen; like the local food as a driver of the economy, it enables access to healthy and affordable food and connects residents to the food they consume. Urban and peri-urban agriculture might not be able to feed cities entirely, but has the clear potential to contribute to social, economic and environmental city sustainability and enhance urban resilience. Both city governments as well as other actors can play important roles in enhancing this potential. With our intervention „Wohnzimmer Farm“, we therefore follow the vision of a sustainable city by urban agriculture, to reduce the pressure on the world’s productive land and to help assure long-term food security. We know that this issues is already discussed in many contexts, but for us, big transformation happens bottom up and not top down. Our vision starts from scratch– people first need to be sensitised about food consumption, production and its consequences, to than recognise the need for change.
For this reason our intervention „Wohnzimmerfarm“ is bringing the topic of food security and sustainability into the everyday context of a living room. The installation invites people to concretely learn and practice possibilities of home grown food. Important for us is the focus on everyday suitability and motivation to put our ideas into practice. Thus, we offer an interactive installation accessible for everyone and practical workshops.
In our Foodtopia the idea of food sustainability and security spreads out and the awareness for food calls city dwellers to mind. From the small scale project of an indoor farm it would spread out to cities public spaces, (more) urban gardens, roofs, vertical wall etc.
The Foodtopia is the desire to make the city independent from the globalised food market and self-sufficient as well as ecological friendly.
Freedom and Limits
Global Techno Power
Glocal – Knowledge
The term Glocal is a combination of the word global and local in relation to knowledge.
As knowledge we understand facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education. Knowledge is related to the theoretical and practical understanding of a subject.
But what knowledge exactly is, what kinds of things we can know, what the limits are to what we can know, and even if it’s possible to actually know anything at all? epistemology has studied for a long time. When using the word global we refer to a topic or question that addresses the whole world or is relating to all parts of a situation or subject. in contradiction stands the term local, which is pertaining to a specific place or position in space.
When researching in cities or specific areas like we did around the Floating University, we were looking for the so called local knowledge – the knowledge of the people from the neighbourhood. We investigated how the people perceived their city, the Tempelhofer Feld as a green space, the rainwater basin as a biotop, their gardens, and in general Berlin as an innovative European city engaging in sustainable food production though many different projects and initiatives. We used interviews to get to know more information about the gardening in an allotment garden, in group projects like the Allmende Kontor, how to deal with rainwater collection, contaminated soil or insect protection. We got insights into why people would not grow vegetables or fruits in these specific locations, how they deal with water and what motivates them to have or not have a garden. At the same time we were researching on the globally discussed topic of sustainable food production, environmental production, and urban developments.
Out of the combination of our local experience and global research we created the Utopia of an independent food production city, where everybody would be empowered to produce their own food. When designing the installation „Wohnzimmer Farm“ we evaluated our results and decided to put up a showroom that give everyone the knowledge to plant their one vegetables and fruits with different spatial possibilities they have. With mentorships we used the local knowledge to offer workshops and create content, while at the same time educate about global discussions.
When looking into the future we think it is necessary to identify local knowledge which we might find in small scale projects in urban but also rural areas globally accessible. Change is not only made by politicians or big companies but is most of the time a result of people reacting to their local surrounding. These innovative ideas need to be shared globally so we form a Glocal – Knowledge to shape our future together.
A place that people seek to escape the urban jungle. Can be also related to the concept of “space slowness”, visible in a specific site or situation where the time is perceived in a different way compared to the fast urban daily life. With more and more people living in urban environments and the development of capitalism activities, leading to a high demand on productiveness, it is essential for the great urban agglomerations to offer their citizens places to “escape” from the both strict and chaotic urban life, so that people can get a balance on their feelings. The hidden oasis in the city would be the place to provide a different atmosphere, and to satisfy one’s thirst whenever they need this escape. As a hidden place, it’s perceived as a protected site from the urban pressures, where people can escape from the traffic, noise, big crowds in movement but also to feel time from a different perspective. This space also allow people to notice things that would be usually ignored when you’re immersed in the urban rhythm. Then, new types of interactions can be built through this different experience, with the environment but also within human relations. Through this term, we perceive the “Hasenschänke” as this urban escape, being accessible and integrated with the urban pattern, but at the same time hidden from the city environment. A place inside the park, where people can find what they’re looking for, whenever they’re coming back from work and wishing for some quick minutes away from the rhythm ruled by time and money. With our research, we aim to recognize the importance of such places (especially within big cities) as a possibility for leisure, but more deeply as an alternative to slow down the time, and to understand this desire as a part of something bigger, related to the wish of taking a break from the fast-changing processes of the society ruled by capitalism. Our proposal as the intervention for this project is to support a slowness in the urban/capitalist activities, so that people can be less dependent on money and its hierarchy. Instead, with a time-based currency, they can exchange their services based on their personal skills, representing a rupture with the capitalist operating system, providing a different perception how to spend time and creating new connections through sharing knowledge with people who aim for the same escape. A hidden oasis for the neighborhood can also be a concept for the place to run away from the oppressive dynamics of a society based on fastness, productiveness, fast-changes, money and its hierarchies, putting everyone together on the same platform.
in-floatable / un-floatable
inspired by nature
While the pronunciation might be the same as Kiez (neighborhood in German), the word implements something different. It is a combination of Kiez and eat, thus the Kiez-eats.
The german word Kiez means more than just neighbourhood. It describes a unique community within a large city. Kieze are especially visible in Berlin, where despite the huge growth of the metropolis, some neighbourhoods remained very particular. Each Kiez provides a certain atmosphere, attracts specific people and has small structured, tight relationships between the locals, store owners and residents. Kieze do not get affected by global transformations as much as regular neighbourhoods. The wedded community ensures that certain attributes remain the same, e.g. by supporting their known local shops and not replacing them with international companies. Each Kiez provides all needed infrastructure, thus residents do not rely on the rest of the town.
What is also a special attribute of Kieze is how the tool of food connects the neighbourhood. This might be an unplanned regular meeting at the Späti (convenience store) or Eckkneipe (traditional corner pub). A meal at the local restaurant you go once a week or the fact that if you forget your wallet the supermarket the cashier will just write your name on the list, so that you can pay next time. It all relies on every day, trust and long-established relationships. At the same time depending on the history of the Kiez and its citizens, the food that you find there often comes from specific cultural backgrounds and is only available in this part of the city. The food connects to the origin and traditions of the residents. Even though the Kiez is something very local it thereby connects again back to the global world, by offering the neighbourhood something which was unknown before. At the same time, to be able to provide this particular food, the people rely more on global than local suppliers.
The analysis of the neighbourhood showed that the different actors are only very little or not at all connected to each other. The area around the floating university adjoins different Kieze but does not belong to one certain neighbourhood. At the same time there is almost no local supply available, which means that each actor uses its individual little kitchen or is not able to have a warm meal each day. Still there is a lot of potential, to create a community which could benefit from each other, for example if the actors could share a common kitchen instead of using multiple. The idea of the “Foodbrücke” intervention is to relink the neighbourhood and in the best case create a new Kiez. To do so, the tool of food, cooking and eating together is being used, because nothing connects more than a shared meal.
For us the fact of the informal meeting point is especially interesting. By creating a mobile kitchen/food distribution tool which also serves as a place to eat we want to establish this particular spot which is missing around the floating university: The informal gathering point of the Kiez, the place you stop by on your way home to have a talk or you just go to knowing that you will find somebody there you know. Keatz enables eating, sitting and exchanging news and culture. At the same time the idea is to reduce the dependency of global suppliers and sensibilise people about global food production, by using as much as possible of the local supplies and waste food. The local knowledge from the neighbours, e.g. building raised beds with the gardeners, could teach the neighbourhood how they can benefit from their own supplies and each other.
Local Adapted Communication
(1) The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building!
Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen. Architects, painters and sculptors must recognize anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its seperate parts. Work will be imbued with the architectonic spirit.
The Floating Uni is seen as an artificial island to embrace and merge design and science through experimentation in a temporary space. Merged once more with the “workshop“, the designer and the applied artist must become a world that they build again. Through the conscious, cooperative effort of students and teachers they are inspired to collaborate, explore and design. Their skill will be preserved for the crafts, in which they will be able to achieve excellence. An entity within itself, this space is comprised of clear (or dear?), distinct parts, allowing individuals to learn in unison. This type of experimental learning engages and creates possibilities that would not have manifested alone. Reinforcing the notion of equal distinction between the artist and craftsman moments of inspiration and thrive!
[Jade Cohen, Jemma Jahnsen, Tamara Brkic]
(2) Experimentation meeting creative imagination. is at the heart of finding joy in building knowledge and structures for the future. We need to approach design not just spatially but sustainably and socially. Rethinking construction methods as a means to experiment with rescued materials creates an evolving and cooperative workshop across the complete space. The workshop allows for every individual to have the space and freedom to explore ideas through installation and experimentation. Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future.
[Liv, Lily, Celeste]
(3) The ultimate aim of the Floating University is to represent a conscious, cooperative
effort. To desire, conceive, and create are the fundamental principles imbued within
the development of this space.
It is the unity of multiple disciplines that merge knowledge and creative imagination to
stimulate direction towards the future. The network of components form an entity that
is everchanging and evolving to embrace growth.
This innovative, collaborative space overcomes preconceived barriers and cultivates
new ideologies towards a better sustainable future.
[Eunjee, Anantaya, Tiffany]
(4) The ultimate aim of the Floating University is the complete installation and infrastructure. Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen. Architects, and sculptors must recognize the concept of renewability and sustainability as a way of aiding considered design, and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts. Only then will their work be imbued with the architectonic spirit. The techtonics of structure may be temporal, but the use dynamics are eternal. Through flexible space, the users can enrich their social interactions and find ones seld through an … (not readable) and unique education environment. When young people who take a joy in artistic creation once more begin their life’s work by learning a trade, then the unproductive “artist” will no longer be condemned to deficient artistry, for their skill will now be preserved for the crafts, in which they will be able to achieve a social harmony in design practice and theory. The universities open and collaborative spaces foster alternative and contemporary learning styles. The prime source of creative imagination is the renewed use of space and natural environment. Through imagination, preconceived ideas of structure, sculpture and space can be challenged, creating a rejuvenated state of design. Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen and designers. Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture, sculpture, and installation. Like a skeleton, the inhabitants of the university are the vital organs that provide sustenance and life to the structure.
[Chiara, Tara, Zoe]
(5) To embellish buildings was once the noblest function of fine arts; they were indispensable components of great architecture. Today the arts exist through the conscious, effort of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognise anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building.
Today the Werkstatt is the incomplete building merged with art. Young people are a source of creative imagination that blossom the architectonic spirit in Der Bau! The structure imbues anew world that builds again; Es ist der workshop der Zukunft. Architects, sculptors, painters we all must return to the crafts. For art is not a “profession”. There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. In rare moments of inspiration his work blossoms into art. But proficiency in a craft is essential to every artist. Therein lies the prime source of creative imagination. Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist! Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise to new faith. effort inspiration joyous
[Michaela, Steph, Joe]
(6) The bildnerischen will be systemätic und exposed. through environmenTäl
consciousness it will be selbstgenügsamer and express the architektonischem Geiste
of multifunctionality. It will be a productive hub and it will allow for constant change
and resourcefulness in a celebration of the unvollkommener. Collaboration und
cooperation subvert klassentrennende as The united people work Together in Bau
der Zukunft. This vision will be achieved trough community engagement und
Non to (as a verb)
Placemaking (tools on float)
Porous border is neither the border which block everything outside, nor a boundary which divide the stuff clearly into different parts. Porous border can make selection from outside, so that danger can be blocked, and nutrition and the things which is good to inside can pass. This comes from our observation and experiment in FUB. We find that there are a lot of roots of reeds are exposed because of the water current. To stabilize them, we make some natural bricks with local materials-mud and reed surrounding the reeds whose roots are exposed. But we only surround them in half circle from the direction of water current, so that there is still enough space for reeds to grow freely. Someday if the natural bricks we made collapse, it can also become soil for reeds. At the same time, porous border is also a space where indeterminacy of encounters happen. Like our natural bricks, it is an ideal space for encounters. Because someday seeds of flowers will be brought here by wind, an it will settle down here, waiting for water and nutrition. When they meet each other, they become an small island, a biotope. This is the indeterminacy of encounters, this is an accident. But this is an accident which will happen definitely. We learn this from nature, and then we apply it to nature. Or if you want, we can also apply what we learn from nature to human, to ourselves.
The modern society is known for its unhealthy lifestyle, if we are talking about under, over or bad nutrition, or about the 60-80 % of the people in the world that lead a sedentary life, these are the most serious public health problems of our time.
In the surrounding area of the Floating University, our field site, we recognised an amazing number of green and wild spaces, which add colour to the concrete city and enhance the lives of many of its inhabitants. We visited the mystical and wild cemeteries around the floating university, the wooded area of Volkspark Hasenheide and of course the Tempelhofer Feld. Where once airplanes took off from the grounds now we find a large public park where locals enjoy picnics, sunbathing and doing sports. In addition, we discovered a considerable number of gardening projects, the Allotment Gardens, Allmende Kontor the Pyramidengarten and many more initiatives fostering a wide variety of gardening and agriculture projects within the city.
The urban farming movement, with its production of food, its educational aims and
the idea of creating sustainable situations, has been able to take root in many cities and
metropolises as it is closely integrated with the urban ecosystem.
However, according to the Urban Farming topic it comes out that a lot of people still nowadays don’t lead an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, in most cases, because of the bustle rhythm of the life, laziness or monetary lack. Most of the owners of allotment gardens, who have the luxury to own a piece of land in the middle of the city, prefer to go there just for relaxing and spend a few hours/days in the nature instead to really use the space for planting and producing their own food. Leading a sustainable lifestyle isn’t easy, it takes a lot of time and discipline and often isn’t compatible with our hectic life and the people just prefer to spend their free time at home or chilling in the garden.
The Cambridge Dictionary definition of the term “couch potato” is: person who watches a lot of television and does not have an active life. The unusual combination of the two words: “couch” and “potato” give a funny and negative connotation to this compound word. Looking separately to the two words, the couch represents a global symbol for living room, coziness and relax; the potato on the other hand is a common vegetable, easy to plant with a large use in the kitchen from the junk food to the starred restaurants.
Starting from the word “Couch Potato”, with the reversal of the two-word components comes out a new, a bit provocative term, “Potato Couch” which represents the symbol of the “Wohnzimmer Farm” intervention. The aim of the Living Room Farm is to foster the understanding of the people to a better healthy lifestyle, starting within their own four walls.
Gardening could be the answer of the problem of unhealthy nutrition and sedentary life. Gardening is a hobby and a free time activity that could be practise in different scales, from the small plants at home to the own food production in a garden. Gardening takes for sure a lot of time, need motivation and knowledge, but on the other hand is a profitable activity. Daily gardening is a relaxing activity, a kind of low impact exercise, it takes you outside, give you a feeling of self-sufficiency and is good for the environment.
The wordplay “Potato Couch” has an opposed definition of the yet existing term “Couch Potato”. The couch represents the comfort, the potato instead stays for active life and gardening. The inverted term became then the symbol for an active and healthy lifestyle staying in the coziness of your home, it means starting a big transformation within the own four walls.
Public yet intimate
“Re-” is a prefix that is occurring originally from Latin, used with the meaning “again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” to indicate the return of something to its original state. Additionally, “re”, as a preposition, is used with the meaning “about” or “on the subject of”. The word “cemetery”, is occurring originally from Greek koimētērion, meaning “a sleeping place”.
Cemeteries in Berlin are currently under transformation processes. The demand for cremation has been increasing steadily since around the 1960s. Official statistics from Berlin’s senate office of city development show that 80% of today’s burials are urn burials and only 20% are in fact traditional burials. This is a result of the fact that traditional burial is a problematic procedure, because of an increase of costs and the strict regulations regarding burials in Berlin in a combination with the harmful impact on the environment. Keeping in mind that one coffin uses as much space as four urns, this leads to deserted cemeteries and decaying graves because of absent revenues. After conversations with the minister and director of the cemetery administration, Jürgen Quandt, it became clear that 50% of the space of the cemeteries in Berlin are unused and this in a time of rapid urbanisation, where land and property prices are on the rise, and the need for housing is growing rapidly. Therefore, the church and municipalities are struggling to fund the maintenance of these large green areas and need to explore different possibilities in order to successfully reuse and reactivate these spaces. Transformation processes on the cemeteries have already been happening for some time. Places of quiet devotion or mourning are becoming new urban spaces for the community, taking advantage the special atmosphere that is to be found on the cemeteries of the neighbourhood. This special atmosphere is defined by the silence and respect of visitors for these green islands within the city.
Taking as an example the cemeteries along the Bergmannstraße, it is observed that most of the users are actually local residents who aren’t there in order to visit a grave but rather to find some peace and quiet in a place sheltered from the noise of the surrounding city. Numerous activities are taking place in the cemetery, not only by the visitors, who redefine the use of the space by going for a walk with their baby, reading a book in hidden benches next to gravestones or even mediating, but also by the offers of the actual office of the cemetery. These include concerts, art exhibitions, guided tours and even reuse of old cemetery buildings. However, there are still conflicts between the local residents for emotional, religious and practical reasons.
Re:cemetery proposes the potential of unused spaces found within the cemeteries of Berlin, seeking change in order to persist existing.
Emotions, originating from the Latin word “emovere”, which translates to “remove” or “displace”; meaning a state of feeling or a conscious mental reaction toward something. The word “remove” stands in stark contrast to “rooted”, together the two words form a paradox and a term that is strongly tied to our research topic, cemeteries.
Cemeteries are specifically designed as places where people can have a safe space to mourn their loved ones and to express grief freely. These feelings then become firmly connected to the cemetery – once you enter the cemetery, you are in a different mental state than you were outside. A place like this may even amplify a person’s emotions simply by its existence. There are unwritten rules for how one should feel on a cemetery: sad, dejected, humble; not cheerful and happy.
One’s emotions then become “rooted” in the sense that one specifically seeks out this place to experience a certain feeling – this feeling is then rooted there. These roots can also be a lot more physical if you think about visiting the grave of a loved one. Human remains are literally rooted at the cemetery; therefore, visitors are more or less forced to return to this place if they are looking to be closer to the deceased. They then create a sense of responsibility for the place by planting and taking care of the flowers on the grave.
During our analysis we were able to witness the special atmosphere on the cemeteries at Bergmannstraße. It was like crossing a border from the loud and hectic city into a quiet and peaceful green oasis, where the noise of the surrounding roads sounds like a distant rustling. Here you can read, meditate, focus on your thoughts and do whatever calls for silence and nature. However, this atmosphere has a price: it can make you feel limited because of all its rules; you always must be on your tiptoes and careful not to disturb anyone. In my opinion, the feelings you experience here may also seem somewhat artificial, because they are being evoked by the design of the place.
For our intervention we are trying to make use of these ambivalent emotions. On one hand, we want to preserve and support the rooted emotions one can experience here. On the other hand, from the research we gathered we believe it is also time for a change and introducing a new set of emotions that could possibly be planted there. It also seemed important to us to give people that use the cemetery without visiting a grave the chance to establish roots in this place.
Sourdoughisation, the sourdough effect
Sourdough is a culture of wild/natural bacteria and yeasts that live harmoniously together in a mixture of flour and water. Ancient Egyptians first introduced it as a leavening agent to produce bread and its usage has accompanied humanity throughout history to the present day. It is a microcosm of many natural microorganisms that come from the environment, which grow and multiply by metabolising sugars and other nutrients obtained from the flour. If it is properly fed and preserved, it could live forever; handed down from one generation to another.
This metabolic reference gives us the opportunity to work with the idea that cities and their urban processes can be treated as natural entities. The term concerns two level of discussion. On one hand the necessary cultural contamination that takes place in the urbanisation process thanks to the new incomers in the ever-growing global cities. On the other hand it refers to the necessity of redefine the cycle of food supply and waste production in urban contexts.
Many districts in Berlin are under transformation processes. There are 244 million of international migrants and 763 million internal migrants worldwide based on 2015 data. Today 18.4% of the population is foreign-born population where the number of unemployed migrants is more than twice as high as the others. This phenomenon leads to difficulties in the integration process.
Investigating the perception of the different communities ( o.g. guests of Tempohomes or Allotment Garden) of the surrounding area of the FU we faced the fact that new urban residents experiences exclusion and a lack of communication with other neighbours.
An important phase of our micro-perspective research was the entire process of trust building with those key actors. Indeed we could argue that a communicative action plays a crucial role in spatial transformation processes.
Acting as “starters” of positive processes in a transforming neighbourhood, is a role that urban planners can take on. Participative interventions can have the power to spring a positive alteration. Recognise and stimulate bottom-up initiatives that can encourage a growing process of mutual contamination, exchange and reciprocal identification. That can lead to the production of never an ending exchange of good practises and knowledges.
Nonetheless Berlin has experienced another trend of disconnection towards urbanisation, which means many people are both physically and culturally separated from the sources of their food. Most of the people get their food from supermarkets and eating-out venues and are eating more highly processed foods. Those behaviours provoke environmental pressure caused by greater expenditure of transportation energy, as materials travel from increasing distances. Food utilisation also requires people to have spaces to store and prepare food, as well as the interest and ability to do so. On the basis of our analysis we recognised the peculiarity of the research site. The particular situation of the area, relatively far from food venues, grants opportunities to informal processes such as track-drivers and caravan-residents cooking on the tracks or, in a broader perspective, several experiences of urban gardening to exist.
Soudoughisation names the act of put a strain on aforementioned counter-productive cycles. Alternatives strategies of food production, like food-rests saving or fermentation, break the confining and infantilising dependency of the role of consumer, and take back dignity and power by becoming producers and creators. It refers to the capability of the neighbourhood to reclaim their bacterias and react to the urban standardisation ( pasteurisation ). It represents an ideal activity to test and develop various forms of citizens´ networking around food as a common domain. Self-processing of food (also cooking) requires a concrete action and exchange between people. By means of constant and loving care is a cohesion factor, a common good that pass from hand to hand.
Due to a rapid urbanization process, the city is facing a very fast transformation. In this case, transformation will be specified as gentrification and rising prices. In opposition to this, a slow space is characterized by its absence of change or its really slow pace of transformation process. Indeed, in the accelerating process of transformation, some islands seems to remain untouched. They appear like bubbles, or islands in the city, who are not submitted to the pressure of the city.
An example of slow space is the Hasenschänke, a Café/Biergarten/Späti, in the middle of Hasenheide Park. It has existed since 1957. This Café opens in the summer, with many tables on a terrace, close to the Freiluftkino. Its particularity is that the offer, the prices,the practices, the users and the looks didn’t change in 50 years. In fact, the Schänke kept its concrete structure, and the offer mainly consist in beer, snacks, pretzels and soft drinks. The users are very consistent and local. Furthermore, the only change we could notice is in the clients. There is a new wave of younger, international people, resulting from the gentrification in the neighbourhoods around. Nevertheless, this slight change has a very low impact on the practices of the café.
The observed slowness is surprising since the park is situated in between Neukölln and Kreuzberg, two areas particularly touched by gentrification. When all around the neighbourhood, the businesses shift rapidly, especially in the restoration sector, this specific café is drastically refusing any kind of change, as small and benefitting it could be. Moreover, this bubbles are often creating a defense community around them. Indeed, the users wanna preserve and defend the slowness as a quality by keeping it hidden and protected.
To conclude, a place where we can notice space slowness is a bubble in a city, characterized by a slow pace transformation process and usually surrounded by a rapidly changing neighbourhood. This surprising difference is what gives to the space the particular feeling of slowness.
Structures or sculptures
The swamp at FUB is a territory of symbiotic relationships. As we, the Third Landscape group of the Design for the Living World at HFBK Hamburg, wandered through the islands of reeds in our rubber boots, we learned that the roots of the reeds will clean even highly polluted water. At one point Xin found a clean pond in the middle of the reeds, and Benni told us that because of the roots the water exiting the pond is cleaner than the water entering it. Clearly, there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the reeds and the water, which of course also benefits the humans and ducks living on and around the pond. Symbiotic relationships between biological organisms can be mutualistic (beneficial) or parasitic (harmful). As parasites, bacteria harm and can even kill humans. But usually, the relationship between bacteria and humans is beneficial for both. If we shift our anthropocentric perspective a little, we can ask: Is the human body hosting bacteria, or are the bacteria hosting humans? Mutual dependence for survival works in both directions.
Symbiosis is defined as the interaction between two biological organisms. Can this biological term be extended beyond human bodies toinclude human social structures as well? Here we can again draw inspiration from the roots of the reeds. These are rhizome structures: if separated from the plant, the root will begin to grow a new plant. In their book A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari developed the sociological concept of the rhizome from such biological structures. Similarly, we can say that the organizations people construct are organisms that connect one point to all other points. People, too, then, create symbiotic structures, and we know these can be both beneficial and parasitic. At the Agora discussions held at FUB, as we sought to understand how to survive in a post-capitalist world, we searched for telling examples of symbiotic relationships in the human-made world.
We found an example of a mutually beneficial relationship in the Premium Collective, an organization founded in Hamburg in 2001 that produces the soft drink Premium-Cola. The collective follows an open-source economic model based on fairness and ecology. The members work as a democratic collective, making decisions by consensus for the common good. As a not-for-profit enterprise, they put every cent they make back into the system. The Premium Collective shows that it is possible to work fairly and equitably, with everyone enjoying equal rights and equal pay, working together and not against each other.
By contrast, we found an example of a parasitic relationship in the lease agreements made by predatory land and housing developers, who work on a for-profit basis which disproportionately benefits themselves and harms residents. In the Agora group, we defined the main problem as the fact that we ourselves agree to a social contract based on exploitation. But social contracts are just agreements, and agreements can be changed. When we consider how we want to live together after capitalism, it makes sense to change harmful relationships in the human-made world. We can start by insisting on non-predatory, mutually beneficial lease agreements.
The oxygen of time
Looking at the flower as an expression of sadness, one quickly realises that the two words are much more connected than thought.
Flowers act as symbols of emotions. Right after being used for Valentine’s Day, they are used the most on cemeteries during the ceremony and later to decorate the grave. They are therefore a profitable business for flower shops. Visitors of the graveyard also specifically seek out the atmosphere created by the vegetation, because it is very diverse. At the same time there are some cut flowers, which are especially common on cemeteries such as roses, callas, carnations, lilies and forget-me-nots.
On average, every German spends 106 euros per year on flowers. Overall, sales of cut flowers alone in Germany sum up to three billion euros. Especially in recent years the demand for cut flowers has increased. Often the buyers of flowers do not know where they really come from and how far they have to be transported to get to German flower shops. The term „Trauerflower“ with its combination of different languages therefore already indicates that this is a transnational topic. About half of all cut flowers in Germany come from developing countries such as Kenya, Ecuador or Ethiopia and are transported to Europe by plane. Especially in these countries the workers are not paid sufficiently and suffer from unacceptable work conditions. Often the plants are treated with chemicals and pesticides, which then pass into the soil and into the ground water or cause the workers allergies or, in the worst case, intoxications. The other half is imported via wholesalers from the Netherlands. Most of them are taken from the flower auction in Aalsmeer, the largest flower auction in the world.But also in the Netherlands the methods are not necessarily more environmentally friendly. Greenhouses are often used to create ideal conditions for growth with constant light and water in order to grow the flowers as best as possible. Additionally, after they are cut, whether grown in the Netherlands or Kenya, the flowers must be kept cold at each stage to protect them from withering. Unfortunately, only a small proportion of flowers comes from local cultivation.
For this reason, the term „Trauerflower“ has also a double meaning. The flowers also cause a kind of grief when you look at the global problem of the flower industry that only a few know about. Some flower shops for example are therefore increasingly against the import of flowers and rely on local growth. In Berlin, for example, some florists buy their flowers directly from breeders in Berlin or Brandenburg.
What does floating university mean to me?
Wimmelbild // hidden object challenge
While a “farm” suggests a vast land used for various forms of food production through agriculture or the cultivation of animals, the typical “Wohnzimmer” in Berlin has an average size of approximately 20m². The living room is usually the biggest room of a flat or a house in which the people stay during the daytime and spend most of the time in their homes at.
Analyzing the neighborhood of the Floating University Berlin, we noticed a big culture of different forms of gardening – or farming so to say. The Allotment gardens around the Floating University, the intercultural pyramid garden and the urban gardening project of the Allmende Kontor are only a few examples of them. Also, the location between Hasenheide and Tempelhofer Feld is predestined for urban agriculture. Most of the people using this offer of green space and gardening projects are people from the nearby neighborhood. They use these spaces for recreation, for being in the community or spending quality time with their children.
Unfortunately, we noticed that there are on the one hand many people who don’t have the possibility to have their own garden, for economical or for other reasons. But also, because they have to wait a long time for getting a bed in an existing gardening project or an allotment garden.
On the other hand, there are a lot of the people who already have a garden, but they don’t plant vegetables or fruits because they have not enough time to water the plants or even not enough knowledge about the diverse needs for the plants.
The Utopia of an independent food-production city is based on the idea to give everyone the possibility to plant their one vegetables and fruits with the limited possibilities they have. For that reason, we tried to combine some of the agricultural parts of a farm with the spatial conditions of an average living room. The result of these thoughts is the “Wohnzimmer Farm”. In our part of the summer school we want to build a showroom-like living room together with the neighborhood to show the possibilities of planting his or her own vegetables and fruits in the flat. In the best case, this movement spreads over to more and more people in the city and later also in the streets with the result of a sustainable way of food consumption.
3 Cemetery Grounds
A Cemetery is becoming a place for visiting to do any activities regardless of a purpose while it is a place for burying the deceased and keeping the connection to them. This fact gives cemetery space three kinds of layers of grounds like “below the ground,” “on the ground,” “above the ground.” The layered relationship enables the cemeteries to have a particular atmosphere that doesn’t exist in the other place. After taking part in a cemetery tour, a culture scientist explained to us these layers.
Under the ground, there is the world of the deceased, theoretically 1.6 m below the ground level in case of the burial so that the coffins can be protected from bacteria. Owners of graves visit cemeteries for mourning for their relatives or friends being below the ground, on the other hand, visitors who do not have graves should have a feeling that they have to respect the mourning atmosphere caused by the existence of the world below the ground.
On the ground, the cemeteries are now used not only for mourning but also for other activities that do not relate to graves such as reading books, sitting benches, chilling with babies and so on. Also thanks to a good condition of preservation of nature, there is the various quality of species on the cemetery. The abundant nature located around the graves provides a division of spaces so visitors can have a feeling somewhat enclosed and comfortable spaces.
Above the ground, there are global industrial problems behind general mourning culture of the cemetery relating to placing flowers on graves or establishing tombstones. Concerning the mourning flowers, they sold at flower shops on the cemetery are mostly produced in Africa or the Netherlands and imported to Germany except for the fair-trade flowers. While an amount of the fair-trade flowers have been increasing, the industrial problem of flowers in Africa and Netherlands are still not solved because of a difficulty to realize the fair-trade, and a demand of specific flowers which can obtain only from Africa. Regarding the tombstones, on the other hand, quarries in Europe are no longer adequately working so usage of the quarries in China are rising now and it has caused the severe industrial problem.
We must pay attention the layered relationship and the facts when the re-use and re-activation of the cemeteries come up on agenda so that office of the graveyards, developers, and designers will respectfully consider reasons why they can preserve the atmosphere on the graveyards. Otherwise, green spaces will disappear when the development of the cemeteries take place by merely demolishing and flattening the unused areas to build new facilities such as parks, housing and so on. Therefore, this term defines the critical quality of the cemetery that makes the space in the cemetery different from the other places in a city.