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Opening Academic Year WUR: The inclusion of Landscape Architecture

Article by Rosanne Schrijver en Cor Simon The opening of the academic year starts ceremoniously with the advent of the board, placing them between the cornflowers and cucumbers.

Louise O. Fresco opens the ceremony with the theme: ‘disruptive’. Whereas in the past, schools and universities would be subject to rules and structures, the university today seems to break it. The old system is crashing: economic decline, climate change, urbanisation and food safety are matters of concern these days. The university seems to cry for new inventions, openness of mind, thinking out of the box and breaking the old rules. In other words a paradigm shift towards bio based or circular economy in today’s totally interconnected world by internet, social media and smartphones.

Daan Roosegaarde

With the technology nowadays lots of things are possible. Daan Roosegaarde as artist, innovator and social designer, opens the academic year with his new way of thinking. Inspired by old paintings of Vincent van Gogh with new technologies he created a ‘glow in the dark’ bicycle path. Connecting cultural heritage with the new technology this way.

Our Dutch ‘weird’ approach makes it possible to live under sea-level. Daan Roosegaarde makes us aware with his Waterlicht project how crazy it is we take it for granted to live this risky. Simulating with light-technology-waves he shows how the water would be above our heads. Another thing we take for granted is the smog in our cities. He also designed with his team a Smog Free Tower that greedy inhales this contaminated air and creates a bubble of fresh air, so that people have a clean-air space to escape from the industrialized world we live in today.

Daan’s message to the students is not practice the ‘weird’ Dutch way of ‘doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg’, but to explore, to create, to use your curiosity. The new world is unknown, we are scared. Will robots taken us over, what is happiness, how to deal with it? It is our moral duty to come up with new ideas and concepts that improve the quality of life.

Paul Roncken

Landscape architecture is always discussed as it may be a misfit in the scientific system of the Wageningen UR. Now it seems the Wageningen UR realises the essential role of landscape architecture as bridge between science and the society. The essence of landscape architecture is the application of scientific knowledge to practical problems, whereby it collaborates, imagined and raises new ideas and concept for our daily life. Therefore we are proud that one of our assistant professors got the chance to represent the landscape architecture discipline on the opening of the academic year.

Paul Roncken starts his story with the father of landscape design, an innovative thinker: Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted glued the two wor(l)ds of garden (garden designer) and city (architect) in landscape architecture. A landscape in the city. Today he would be a hipster. Daan has no beard, but the same innovative and disruptive properties. ‘Design is needed to limit damage and even create healthy futures.’ Paul Roncken’s ideas on the ‘ landscape machine’ is such an innovative way to understand the system of the landscape.

Whereby the landscape is considered as a complex ecological machine that can be designed and organized to be productive for food, energy and resources, while cycling the base materials and improving natural resilience.

Paul concludes with the words: ‘What is the future of design sciences? Does it need anything disruptive? Daan Roosegaarde was educated in an experimental way. We may have difficulties with disruptive, but our new students will be natural with it. Mix and match the life sciences with university college. We as universities need to participate with young adults and society!’

september 8, 2015

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