Thursday, February 13, 2014

Field Trip to The Netherlands and Belgium 2014

The 2014 field trip to The Netherlands (and Belgium) and once again, the second year undergraduate and postgraduate students in construction* joined together for most of the trip apart from one day when they split into separate groups (and the postgraduate students went to Utrecht whilst the undergraduates went on a tour of Amsterdam).

The field trip is an active learning experience and is designed to give our students an understanding of development, planning and engineering practices in The Netherlands and Belgium. Site visits were backed up with a series of presentations from local experts focusing on: planning strategy, sustainability and urban design considerations, the mix of dwelling types, retail and community buildings, infrastructure plans, planning for flooding/rising sea levels, and sustainable and innovative building technologies. 

Students were split into small groups and given a series of tasks to complete in a field trip workbook - part of the learning experience was the development of a group strategy to ensure that the maximum amount of information on each site was obtained and recorded. The field trip leaders had also provided some excellent background information for the students to make use of before and after the trip. The students were also given a few useful Dutch phrases. 

This year, the report will focus on links (click on the blue text to access links) to further information on the sites visited together with a selection of photos by George Blumberg.

19th January - Day 1

A very early departure from Oxford meant that by early afternoon the field trip coach had reached Antwerp (in Belgium) for the first of the site visits to Antwerp Law Courts, a building which features a dramatic roof structure - designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership in partnership with ARUP.

Max Muncaster (one of the staff team) outside the Antwerp Law Courts

Next stop: Antwerp Central Railway Station to see the reconstruction work carried out to change this early 20th century railway terminus into a through-station to cope with the demands of the 21st century.

Looking down through the original glass-roofed train-shed at Antwerp Central Railway Station

20th January - Day 2

The day started with a presentation on the two sites visits of the day: Amsterdam Central Station and Ijburg (a city built on an artificial island). After the presentation, the site visits - first stop: Amsterdam Central Station (videos one, two, three) which is home to the ambitious transport project to link together parts of the city that were previously isolated.

Students on tour - Amsterdam Central Station

Supporting structures - Amsterdam Central Station

Next stop: Ijburg, Amsterdam's newest district and one which is built on a series of artificial islands.

Steigereiland, the gateway to Ijburg, is home to some amazing experimental housing (two designs from FARO Architects: spaciousness and energy neutral).

The final visit of the day was to the Amsterdam Eastern Harbour District, an area with a rich cultural heritage which is now being redeveloped for housing.

21st January - Day 3

And a visit to the city of Rotterdam. The day started with a visit to the RDM Campus where research centres and companies collaborate on sustainable innovations needed for the Rotterdam economy - this was followed by a series of presentations on the regeneration of the Rotterdam docklands and the adjacent residential community. A boat trip from the RDM Campus to the Erasmus Bridge allowed the students to see the development from a different angle.

At RDM Campus

The students went on a walking tour of Rotterdam - a city that was destroyed in the second world war and has been designed and rebuilt from scratch - they also visited the Rotterdam Central Station project.

Then it was back on the coach for the final visit of the day - to the Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier.

22nd January - Day 4

The students split into two groups: the undergraduate students went on a self-guided tour of Amsterdam which included a visit to the Amsterdam Museum whilst the postgraduate students went to Utrecht - the largest housing and industrial development in The Netherlands.

23rd January - Day 5

The final day of the trip and all the students visited Utrecht for a presentation and guided tour. The focus of the visit was building design and how design/architecture in The Netherlands differs from that in the UK.

Presentation on Utrecht

Guided tour of Utrecht (in the rain).

If you want to see what the old part of the city looks like, take a boat ride:

That's it, the end of the trip. Back on the coach to Oxford.

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