Organizer: Joanna Danilewicz
What does it take to make a university campus more sustainable? Especially when you look at this question with the eye of an architect/urban planner? This was the central challenge addressed by master students at the Gdańsk University of Technology in Poland. And so, a new Pyramid was born.
Many issues were brought to the table, from the untapped potential of available space to the fact that environmental awareness doesn’t translate into practice. One of the solutions lies in the creation of “places” that would encourage cooperation, innovation, interdepartmental exchanges and actions, that would “make some life”, as the participants framed it. Space – both in a physical and social sense – becomes thus a tool that can shape human interactions. In practical terms, the participants agreed that the transformation of the campus needs to begin with the community itself, so they proposed that volunteering opportunities be created, recurring events – established, competitions, workshops, interdisciplinary projects and personal initiatives – encouraged.
The Capstone Agreement is their first step towards reclaiming the Campus, as they are going to create the first bicycle parking: “We can’t wait for some changes – they won’t occur if we don’t take some action!”
As for the Pyramid workshop itself, here is the opinion of one of the participants, A. Czerwińska: “[it] will be remembered by me as one of the few activities / meetings / events at the Technical University of Gdansk which sought to broaden students’ awareness of the environmentally conscious design. The idea of Sustainable Development is often invoked at Gdańsk University of Technology, but there are no exercises that actually teach students how to implement this idea into life. I’m a participant who has been interested in eco-friendly architecture for several years and those workshops were particularly valuable to me. I could confront my knowledge with the knowledge of other participants, share views and ideas and put myself into a role of the person who’s responsible of public spaces’ design. First of all, I learned that sustainable development isn’t only about using less water or producing less waste but also about the economic policies, which strongly affect the society and the places we live in. This workshop was also a good opportunity to discuss our local «problems» associated with public spaces of campus and excessive bureaucracy at the university. Building the four walls of the pyramid has led us all to a common conclusions. The administration of campus should give the spaces between buildings back to students (those spaces are currently dominated by cars) and have a bit of more confidence in the society of students. It is necessary to do those steps in order to make Gdańsk University of Technology a school which fits into sustainability «movement»”.
Thank you, Gdansk, may this be indeed just the beginning of a new movement!