Sometime throughout the school year, when applying for the Study Abroad program and Roy DeBoer, I was thinking about another unique opportunity the Rutgers Department of Landscape Architecture offers – the Emschergenossenschaft Praktikum. Every summer, a student is chosen by Prof. Wolfram Höfer after expressing interest in the program. I had been working on a project with the Emschergenossenschaft in Wolfram’s most recent studio and was very intrigued by the work they have been doing for over a century. Also, I would be here in Germany after the Study Abroad program anyway! It was a perfect situation.
The Emschergenossenschaft is Germany’s oldest and largest public waterboard, taking care of the River Emscher, and the people and land around it. The River Emscher runs through the Ruhr region, once the most industrialized area in all of Europe. However, in the late 1800s, the ground started to sink due to mining subsidence and overindustrialization, and the cities were extremely unhygienic. So, the Emschergenossenschaft was created, and the River Emscher was straightened and lined with concrete to create a huge open sewer system. This worked for a long time, until coal mines started shutting down in Germany. With the downfall of mining, and a need for structural changes in the Ruhr region, the Emschergenossenschaft announced the “new” Emscher, one that would be naturalized again.
Now, they are going through the process of taking all above-ground sewage, and diverting it to a huge tube deep underneath the ground, and removing the concrete to create a naturalized Emscher. The Emscher is 81 km long, so this process takes a long time and is done in steps. Throughout these phases is where the Department of Spatial Planning comes in: Emscherparks are created along the river to bring people to the new naturalized river for educational and recreational purposes, as well as celebrating the history of the Emscher and the industrial culture of the Ruhr region.
I was interested in this internship because I am intrigued by the insane engineering that this river and the surrounding area has gone through. It is very similar to many places in America, and serves as a genius example of what to do with a post-industrial landscape. Also, my previous internship experience only includes residential design work, and I wanted to expand my experience to include public work. This was a great choice for me. I am also learning German while I am at it and learning the ins and outs of a daily German work day.
I am so excited and proud to be working for this company!
Pictures attached below.
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