Monday, August 30, 2010


Overall, I think that the experience has been a valuable one. Not only have I gotten a chance to go to a new place and work on such a special case study, but I have been able to get new insights from lecturers who have international backgrounds and very different ideas from the ones I am used to. Furthermore, I can honestly say that this trip has been honestly one of the most productive two weeks that I have ever had in my life. I have learned so much and made such amazing friends on this trip that I am sure it will be an experience to remember. Also, we got our own rooms and had a professional chef cook for us, and it’s just all just awesome. I definitely recommend this program to anyone who asks and will be glad to share any information about my trip or about what I have learned (I have tons of notes from the lectures). J I hope that this blog has encouraged you all to try out for this program. It’s the best!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 11: Friday

Today is the last day of the IARU program and we have group presentations and individual presentations. Because my group was the last group, we had to wait through a lot of presentations before we got a chance to share our work. Many of the presentations were quite interesting, although I felt that our group made the most significant changes/improvements to our project overall with our work on the case studies. The presentation went pretty well, although I felt that my group made me spend too long on our matrix slide. Nevertheless, it was an interesting process. We had someone random come in for our evaluation, as is required by Denmark law, and he asked really long, really awkward questions to each of the four groups before mine, but didn’t ask my group anything. I felt kind of strange about this, since I was hoping for a chance to explain a variety of things about our project.

We then had an individual evaluation, which was awkward because it was my understanding that we would be presenting to everyone what we had learned. Instead, they called us into the room one by one, had us present what we had learned, and then asked us some random questions to check our understanding. Overall, I think that the grading system in Denmark is quite strange and wasn’t very transparent to the students. While certain aspects ensure fairness in grading in theory- such as having an outsider evaluate to prevent lecturer’s own opinions from getting in the way of grading- the actual implementation was less than ideal. Overall, the grading ended up in a sort of bell-curve, with A’s, B’s, and C’s (most students receiving B’s), but there wasn’t much in terms of explaining how the grading happened. Ehh, I got a “B,” so it doesn’t matter too much.

During my individual presentation, I shared this (this is written in speech format and answers three key questions that the Professor asked):

“Hello again everyone! So, as you heard before, my name is Stephen Chiao and I am a part of group 5. My group’s main landscape issue was finding settlement and housing methods that would preserve the best of rural and urban qualities in an area despite the demand for new housing.

Within this, I think that the most critical aspect would be satisfying what the people want from their living spaces, whether the concern be economics, sustainability, climate change, or implementation, the people serve as one of the most important advocates or barriers to landscape planning.

In the case of finding the ‘most strategic decision’ my group made in shaping a landscape response, I think that the decision to move from creating a ‘NEW’ type of ‘garden city’ to just identifying a range of possible solutions particular to landscapes in Hillerod instead was definitely what enabled us to sort of ‘move on.’ While a ‘Garden City’ would have created a great vision, as well as draw upon some historical successes, none of the people in my group were professional landscape planners or strategists, and it was better not to try to create new settlement plans and housing types, but identify and evaluate existing strategies that could be utilized to achieve our goals instead.

Finally, as for the most important lessons that I have learned from the process, I think that identifying what not to do was often as important as identifying what we (as a group) wanted to do. When we started out this project, we had all sorts of ideas- creating new housing types (maybe using combinations of existing ones), considering adding rural-skyscrapers to possible considerations for development, or going micro-scale and identifying what structures or aspects could be added to each type of housing, such as white roofs and water retention tanks, to where they could be located… it was basically too much. Overall, it took a lot of effort to get our group settled upon what we really wanted to focus on, so I think that learning about what not to do is an essential part of what I got from this process.

Oh, and matrixes are cool too.

Thank You.”

I know, not the greatest presentation in the world, but the questions were a bit unclear and we were given only a limited amount of time to present. We were supposed to answer: “(a) What is the most critical aspect of the landscape issue your group has been working upon? (b) What was the most important strategic decision that your group made in shaping a landscape planning response (c) What is the important lesson you have learnt from the process?” and if Professor Swaffield had not clarified, I would have though the questions asked “(a) what is your problem statement? (b) What got your group moving along? (c) What did you learn from the project?” it was all quite confusing, and I think that a lot of people needed this to be clarified.

After this part, we had some free time and the evaluator made us all get in a group and write down what we liked and disliked about the class. I think that many of the people in our class wrote many similar things, so there was a suggestion from one of our students to just have a discussion and make things more comfortable, but our evaluator didn’t seem to like the suggestion and proceeded on circling things he thought were interesting and we did things the boring way.

There was then a bonfire held by some of the local Danish people, and we had a fun night before we had to head off to bed to pack and get ready to leave.

(Bonfire #1. So Much Fun :))

(Hiking With Friends)

(Group Picture! I missed it :/)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 10: Thursday

Today Professor Lone Kristensen presented on “Public Participation- Reflections and Some Experiences.” I felt that this material was a lot closer to the “stakeholder” process that I had learned before at UC Berkeley and felt more comfortable with the topic than a lot of the other things that we have been studying. Professor Kristensen then shared her experiences with successfully creating a citizen’s group in the Lihme Parish. A lot of the presentation really made me wish that we had more time to research and actually talk to the people affected by our ideas, but overall it was just nice to have this all presented to us.  

The rest of the day was spent in group work, and my group worked especially hard on developing our case study areas. We not only made considerations as to what settlement strategy we wanted to implement for the area, but the housing types, the resulting advantages and disadvantages to our suggestions, but also considered other aspects, such as implementation strategies and ways to mitigate the disadvantages.
We then spent some time working on our individual presentations to summarize what we had learned and gotten out of the course.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 9: Wednesday

Today was mostly about working with the case studies. We spent a lot of time looking at maps and decided on three areas where we could implement our strategies: Lystrup, Freerslev, and Alsonderup. Each of these places was chosen because our settlement strategies needed to be implemented in existing areas, and because they demonstrated certain landscape qualities. We didn’t get to do much more than just decide on the places though, since time was pretty scarce.

We only got to have one lecture on this day. Because time was scarce, Professor Kristensen decided to move her lecture to the next day. So the only lecture was Professor Kenneth Olwig’s presentation on the “Landscape Convention: European Landscape Perspective in Ore City, Periurban Amager Commons and the Sandwich and Political Land.” The lecture was highly informative in terms of giving us both landscape laws and policies in conjunction to real locations, but I felt that there were certain jumps in locations that were quite difficult for me (as a foreigner) to follow. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 8: Tuesday

For Tuesday, we focused on group presentations of how far we had gotten on our work. My group presented on our critical problem of combining rural and urban aspects for a growing population, the process we would take, and the different discoveries we had made on the excursions. Overall we decided that we should do a (few) case studies to add to our presentation and make the implementation of our discoveries more real. Basically, from here on, we would try to find areas where we could develop in the way that we had suggested. Most of the day was spent on viewing other people’s presentations, which also turned out pretty interesting, although I felt that a fair number of them didn’t really have the same structure that we did. Nevertheless we also got some valuable ideas to supplement our own research process. After the presentations, we were supposed to have a break, but my group focused upon adding additional material to our project.

After working on it a while, I heard a lot of groups discuss how they were going to do some additional research at Fredricksberg Castle, since the rain would give some information about the possible strategies they could use for the drainage problem that would become prominent in Denmark as Climate Change continues. My group decided that I would be more valuable if I were to be sent out again on a mission to take pictures of additional housing structures near the castle, so I got to go with these other groups. After my work was done, there was still time, since the other groups were taking longer and there were only two buses/cars, so I actually had a chance to go shopping around. I was really grateful for this opportunity, since I needed to get some souvenirs for my friends and family. Things in Copenhagen were too expensive for me. In the end, I got to go to Tiger (home furnishing shop) and Netto’s (supermarket) which were key stores recommended to me by Aaron for cheap pricing. They were really cool and showed me that it was possible to get some nice and fair priced stuff in Denmark after all. J

We then had a lecture from Carmen Aalbers on “Concepts and Governance and Government in Peri-Urban Areas- Some Case Study Experiences.” She spoke about how governance worked in different areas and how they were arranged by a certain “priority list.” She also emphasized the difference dimensions of policy analysis including: rules of the game, resources, coalition, and discourse. While the technique in separating these out and considering them was valuable, I felt that she seemed to have applied many of these somewhat haphazardly to situations that didn’t really work. Overall, we ended up running out of time and I think that time with group projects would have been more useful.

(Group at Fredrickberg Castle)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 7: Monday

Yesterday we got a day off and got a chance to go see some of the castles in the area (some of the others went to Sweden) ^^ I got to see Fredricksberg and Hamlet’s castles and they were pretty interesting.

(cannons at one of the castles)

(yay group meeting at Hamlet's Castle)

For lectures on this day, we had Gertrud Jorgensen, who talked about “Sustainable Peri-Urban Landscape Visions and Strategies,” which included sustainability (economic, social, environmental concerns) and the DPSIR model. We then had professor Simon Swaffield lecture on “Landscape and Public Policy: Approaches and Strategies” which included a valuable policy cycle, spatial strategies for landscapes, and the types of landscape policy implementation.

We then had a field trip with Professor Primdahl, who took us to an “elderly home” designed by Jorn Utzon. The design of the place and the concepts that made it were quite nice. We were given a tour by a man who was 83 and spent 15 years applying to live in the place. Overall, it was pretty useful to my group project, since we were presenting on urban space with environmental aspects, which the place demonstrated pretty clearly. Furthermore, it gave us a good picture of the semi-detached houses that I missed on the field excursion on the second day.  

(center developed for people native to Denmark)


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 6: Saturday

Trip with Tue Tortzen. Since it was a Saturday, Professor Lone Kristensen recommended that we do something more active, so we went on a outdoors lecture in a nearby forest area. We learned overall that two important considerations to have with landscape development with regards to Climate Change were surface color and the types (and amount) of gases emitted as a result of the. Professor Simon Swaffield then recommended that we consider adaptation strategies for drastic cases of Climate Change and the mitigation considerations that can be made before/during/after the change. This material was pretty basic, but informative in terms of considering it in relation to landscape development.

We then spent a lot of time on individual work, since we had to write individual papers about our work in the group project. And then we spent some time on groupwork. During groupwork today, we clarified some of the settlement strategies that we wanted to work with- Linear Settlements, Forest Villages, Wedge Structures, and Circular Structures- as well as how each worked and where they would work. We also did the same for some of our housing types- the Farm Converted Apartment Complexes, Semi-Detached Housing, and Mass Produced Housing. During groupwork, we were able to further define our goal of establishing 6000 households for the municipality of Hillerod over the coming years as well as creating an approach to the solution that includes: defining the settlement (based on experience, defining rural and urban qualities, describing existing landscape qualities of the case area, evaluating settlement based on the checklist of the combination of rural and urban qualities, evaluating the settlement based on the checklist of landscape qualities, and finally, coming up with some conclusions about the settlements.