The Great Gradschool Experiment

"Drawing the City" with Harold Linker

I recently began coursework at the Academie van Bouwkunst of Amsterdam. Earlier this summer I agonized over the decision of where to go to grad school to pursue landscape architecture at a higher level, or at least to be able to consecrate some time to learning. Here in the Netherlands their is a good choice of schools, each with their particular strengths. I could have studied at the TU Delft (they are thinking about a landscape MA) but ultimately choose the mix of work and study that the AvB offers, plus it offers the enormous advantage of being in my neighborhood and not an hour away by train. Besides a challenging course load of design studios, you are expected to have a job in a firm at the same time. It’s extremely challenging , and a lot of people get through in fits and starts.

The Dutch believe in getting right down to it, and the first thing we did after begin introduced to our fellow classmates was to work on an afternoon mapping project. The seminar leader was an artist named Harold Linker known for his drawings, so immediately the atmosphere was one of artistic creation, which appreciated immensely. We were given five major axes through Amsterdam and assigned the task of sketching urbanistic transitions along these axes from the outside of the city to the center. On our return we assembled the hundred or so sketches into an expressionistic map of the city. Above you can see how each particular place we stopped had its own rhythm or pulse, from the long low streaming of box construction and highway on the outskirts to the frenetic pulsing of the 17th century inner city.

It should prove to be an interesting semester, which I will be digesting here for myself and anyone interested in design education in the Netherlands…