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Thoughts about the Floating University

Sommer '19
Kathrin Krones

"It was a Thursday when I decided to visit the Floating University Berlin for the first time.

I knew my fellow students from TH Nürnberg would be there as well as they were taking part within the context of a master design project. So I got on my bike and managed to guide it to Südkreuz from where I took another slighly smaller road crossing the imposing entrance to a cemetary. Moving further I turned left into an even narrower, unimpressive pathway. At first the university was quite hard to find. But gladly I saw a poster on a gate and stepped a bit closer towards it to be able to catch a glimpse of what might be hidden behind. I set foot on a trestle bridge and reached a scaffold structure. This vertical greenhouse was indeed very green and as I made my way down the few meters of height difference between street level and the rainwater basin I passed plenty of tomato plants thriving richly. As I was approaching the bottom of the structure I saw several constructions differing in size and shape emerging that were all connected by a wooden footbridge. In that moment I was entering another world, a peaceful one right in the heart of a noisy and crowded city.

The rainwater basin was completely surrounded by trees, bushes and reeds, a dense green belt protecting it from prying eyes. I suddenly felt very calm while I was examining scaffoldings, closed and open structures, white rooftops and wooden elements, discovering a water wheel, hanging bathtubs and the radar tower of the Tempelhofer Feld appearing behind the green. There I felt the urge to explore and started moving about freely through the campus. I wanted to absorb every secret little detail of this inspiring space. Never had I seen anything like it before. I followed the wooden walkway to the auditorium and passed the bar and the observation tower. There were people pottering about everywhere, busying themselves, adding more and more features to the structure, still extending it. The ones not busy with a task were spread across the area, relaxing or exchanging views.

I located my friends from Nuremberg instantly. Some of them were taking part in a workshop and I decided to join them. Sitting around a generous work table we produced loads of drawings dealing with various topics regarding urbanism and the environment which were going to be part of a big collage on a wall in the auditorium. My appetite for exploration wasn‘t yet satisfied. I became curious of what might be happening on the other side of the basin, so I stepped on the rather dangerous, small walkway heading there, fighting to keep my balance. It was impossible for two people to walk beside each other, so
someone built a few tiny wooden islands connected to it. Gladly I arrived safely and found some rubber boots to put on. I was eager to try out the self-built seesaw which then lifted me up in the air and down again, my feet splashing into the kneedeep water of the rain basin."