Exploring the world's built environments and seeking sustainable solutions.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SCONES’s last days in Europe

We arrived at our last city yesterday afternoon, and in many way’s it was as if the best was saved for last.  Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s beautiful lake cities, with much of the things we’ve come to love in Europe, such as walkability and beautiful architecture.  What makes this city especially outstanding is that not only does it surround a beautiful lake, but it is enclosed by the Swiss Alps! 
We enjoyed our last guest lecturer yesterday evening, Laura Adams, who is an environmental scientist living in Switzerland and collaborating on a lake restoration project.  Her team is working to provide sollutions for the de-eutrification of a lake involving private as well as public partnerships.  One of their focuses for the project is to generate income from the excess phosphorus, which is the main cause of eutrophication due to agricultural run-off.  Some of the possible income generators could be burning the sludge collected from dredging the lake and selling the ash to farmers.  

Another potential income generator could be creating retention ponds for catails and using the dredged sludge for fertilizer, then selling harvested catails to facilitieis to use them to create biofuels.  Laura will b coming to UC Davis this fall to pursue a graduate degree in hydrology.  We’ll be looking for her!

The next morning we gathered together after enjoing our most luxuriest breakfast of the trip ( and our first hotel stay) to set off for an Alpine adventure climbing  Mount Rigi, ’the queen of the mountians’.  But before we tackled the 5000ft above sea level mountain, we traveled across Lake Lucern by ferry.  
Early morning on the clear sparkling calm waters, we took in the the spectacular views of the Alps around us. We were all a little awestruck and very excited.  The adventure ahead would involve a mountain cog wheel train, a fairly challenging and steep hike and a gondala ride on the return trip back.  Not a bad way to end a wonderful experience abroad in Europe!

Our cog wheel train waits for us to board and begin our ascent up the mountain. 
The ride is a series of one 
beautiful view folowed by another!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The hike up to the top of Mt. Rigi was quite the experience. There were 2 halves to the hike. The first half wasn’t too hard. It was an uphill path that made you sweat a little but nothing too strenuous. After walking we came up to a restaurant with some large silver tents that looked like they came from the circus.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Bächle of Freiburg

August 10th, 2013

One of the most charming things about the city of Freiburg, Germany are the little channels of water running throughout most of the streets and alleyways in old town known as the “bächle”. This word comes from the German word for stream, bach, followed by the Alemannic diminutive “le” meaning little. Although many uses of the bächle can be seen today, not many know the history of these enchanting runnels.  
Fed by the Dreisam river, the original bächle were built to help irrigate agricultural land in the early thirteenth century.  Because the city of Freiburg is settled on a natural slope, the construction of these artificial waterways was a convenient and intuitive manipulation of the Dreisam to maximize use of the water supply.  
During World War II Freiburg was severely damaged and many of the bächle failed to make it through the attacks.  The city seemed to lose focus of the historical significance of the bächle, and they weren’t a priority in redevelopment of the city until citizens came together to fight for their restoration, leaving them in the state of which they are today.
Today, various social activities take place in and around the bächle through out the streets of Freiburg. These channels have many uses, ranging from children’s boat races to late night meeting places.  Residents of Freiburg use the bächle in their every day lives, and people from each age group seem to enjoy them in all sorts different ways.  It seemed as though mostly children would run and play through them, racing boats and laughing with their friends as a fun, accessible, free and simple way to enjoy the city with their parents.  Teenagers and college students chill their drinks in the bächle at all times of the day or congregate around them at night, something we observed every single night around multiple streets. On hot summer days lots of people can be seen dipping their feet in to cool off.
Over time, public uses of the bächle have evolved with the changes to infrastructure and the social fabric of Freiburg.  Residents have a strong social value of the bächle because the people before them had to work to convince the city that their redevelopment was vital to their love for Freiburg.  One Freiburg local, a middle-aged man with his wife and young son, commented that “[they are] what makes walking around through Freiburg unique- there’s an unspoken pride over them that many of us residents share.”  His explanation illustrates the attitude that most residents seem to have toward the bächle, whether they enjoy them by dipping their feet in on a hot day or simply observing the omnipresent love that people share for them. But beware if you are a tourist, as I learned personally from an old Freiburger with broken English, if a visitor accidently steps in a bächle then they are destined to marry a Freiburger!
-Maisie Borg

Friday, August 9, 2013

Arriving in Freiburg

Last Saturday, we departed from Copenhagen to Freiburg by train. Before we got to Hamburg, our train had to get on the boat. I was so excited because this was my first experience to pass through the ocean by boat but with the train. I think this was really sustainable idea that uses a right thing in a right place” The governments in Europe cooperated together and built railroads that connect to the boat. The European’ governments have not used other ways to let people arrive to the destination, such as build a bridge on the ocean, encourage people go by plane, or build a longer railroad which along the island. I think Eurail is really smart and connected transport design that transportation combine to another transportation. People not only easily arrive the destination, pay cheaper comparing to the plane, but also reduce their carbon footprint.

This is Eurail map that shows travel times for each trip. (Source: Eurail)

This view from the boat and this boat should be gone the opposite direction from Germany to Denmark.

After about 8 hours more travel time, we finally arrived to the hostel, Katholischen Lehrlingsheim. This hostel uses solar panels and heat pump as energy supplies, and has blinds outside the windows to help better insulate the building from heat.

Solar panels are built right in front of the hostel.

                                      The broad shows how many energy is being transferred by sunlight.

 The heat pump is installed in the back of the hostel.

The river’s water goes all the way down from the hill through downtown in little channels. It also flows behind the hostel, shown here.

The hostel also provides a garage for guests to park their bikes.

 The view from the hostel window.

~Chloe Cheung

On Monday morning we took the tram to the Fraunhofer Solar Institute and learned about many interesting technologies the institute is researching. We saw examples of flexible solar panels, electricity generating windows, and a solar air conditioning unit, but could not take photos of

We then picked up our rental bikes from the train station. This multimodal facility supports heavy rail, local light rail, buses, bikes, and cars. The bikes are the nicest we've had on the trip so far, but are much to big for many students. We all struggle to get on, which is quite a sight for people passing by.

After renting bikes, the class split up for a 4 hour break before lecture. I went to the car-free historic downtown with 4 other students. We found a large farmer’s market by the Cathedral, which had everything from flowers to fruit to bratwurst…lots and lots of bratwurst. The food was very good and relatively cheap. The prices here in general are much cheaper than anywhere else we've been.

Freiburg’s downtown has charming little canals, called bachle, on nearly every street. These canals are only a couple inches deep, but they provide amusement for children, and a refreshing place for adults to sit down or dogs to drink from. You can always hear the babbling of the streams in Freiburg.

~Sam Moffitt

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kastrup Sobad

Segun Adenola
Henry Deng

In our stay at Copenhagen, we explored a recommended summer spot near the coast of Copenhagen, the Kastrup Søbad Seawater. The Kastrup is a suburb located right in the middle of downtown Copenhagen and Copenhagen Airport. The place took about fifteen minute biking from our hostel.  There was a boardwalk, a sandy beach, parks, and an aquarium. The Solbad is a very innovative architectural design, basically it is an enclosed swimming pool with platforms for diving in the middle of the sea. This makes it a place for  tourist like ourselves want to go to because it is a great water for people to swim in, but it also has a great architectural design. The pool consist of a 100 meter long bridge that ends with circular wooden structure made of quality sustainable materials, azobé wood, which is resistant to saltwater. The design shows both quality and functionality as the circle shaped swimming area with a outer screen that block the wind for swimmers. The screen ranges from 1.5 meters to 8 meters.The architect’s target was to make this accessible to the setting for swimmers and a sculpture sight for a morning and evening stroll. We definitely recognize its beauty and attract visiting this place as well as seeing night pictures on the internet.
When we biked there that day, the weather was not all that great. It was not tanning weather since it rained pretty hard earlier during the last tour to ørestad.  When we went, there was some clear blue-sky from the beach to sea while the grey clouds were approaching behind us from the city.  So only a fair amount of people were there.  The Kastrup søbad display how sustainable the city of Copenhagen is because they are using inexpensive and renewable resources such as wood to create space for everybody to enjoy. This is also sustainable because they are using water which is already there to create a space so that people can come by and enjoy it. The area is also sustainable because there are green spaces all around the area that people can hang out in and do other activities such as sunbathing, play sports, and relax. The Kastrup Sobad is the perfect secret place for tourists to enjoy the city of Copenhagen