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Katie Wettick '11 in HafenCity.
Katie Wettick '11 in HafenCity.

Urban Agriculture and Modern Design in Germany

After spending four years at Haverford, recent graduate and growth and structure of cities major Katie Wettick ’11 decided that it was time to travel, explore and gain a new, international perspective on her chosen field of urban planning. So Wettick is spending the summer studying urban design and conducting research on sustainable architecture at HafenCity University (HCU) in Hamburg, Germany, thanks to a stipend from the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship.

HCU is located in Wilhelmsburg, a working-class immigrant neighborhood adjacent to the Elbe River. The University was founded in 2006 as an institution for the study of architecture and spatial development by the city of Hamburg. Wettick, who plans to attend an urban planning graduate program in the future, says that she has very broad interests in the field and hopes to explore some of them while at HCU.

Wettick is conducting research about the new developments and expansions in Hamburg, and studying the use of new, sustainable architecture in the construction of buildings.  She loves exploring Hamburg’s architecture and analyzing the modern buildings of HafenCity or “Harbor City.” She has found, however, that these buildings are too expensive for citizens of Hamburg, and are used mostly as a tourist attraction.

“Walking through the area I have to admit that I love it and from an architectural viewpoint it is amazing,” she says. “But I also feel that this area does not relate to the rest of Hamburg. If you blindfolded someone who knew nothing about HafenCity and put them in this area they would have no idea what city they were in.”

Wettick is also focused on economic sustainability. She is revamping an abandoned building that the University recently acquired, and helping other students with the development of an urban garden project adjacent to the building. Wettick and her peers at the school are planning the garden with the goal of creating a community space for the people of Wilhelmsburg. Thus far the garden has been comprised of orange crates fastened together and filled with soil. The base of the crates was strengthened by wood used from a broken fence. To get other materials, Wettick and her co-workers solicited donations from a variety of local companies.

The project will culminate with a summer camp in the urban garden at the end of July. Wettick is impressed by the fact that the garden is a “0-budget project,” meaning that she and her peers are creating the garden without any money. Equally impressive is the fact that she and her fellow students are on their own; they have no professor to guide them.

“There are three other students working on the project and it is their job to find supplies and design the garden and get it to work with literally no money to help them,” says Wettick. “At one point there was a chance they could apply for funding, but they decided against it as they thought it would change the character of the project. They are trying to show the community that it is possible to build your own garden in a public space with no money.”

--Jacob Lowy ‘14

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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