How can we accommodate rising water levels in a way that also provides social balance? Katrina Wiberg does research into the way the water meets the city.
As a young woman, Katrina dreamt of becoming a biologist or documentarian – and longed to save the rainforest, she says with a smile. It is therefore hardly a coincidence that today’s sustainable architecture is Associate Professor Katrina Wiberg’s line of work. Although the roads she has taken which led to her doing what she does today have been winding like streams of water. For she has always attached great importance to social commitment and the ideal of sustainability.
Katrina sees the world from the perspective of the water. Where would it prefer to go, and how does this affect us? Being an ambassador of the water, her research aims at mediating between the interests of man and the interests of the element. Her goal is to create sustainable solutions on the large as well as the small scale.
Perhaps this is a result of growing up in the progressive “Ø-gade” area of Aarhus in the late 70s. Or perhaps it resulted from her meeting with the open country – and a completely different way of life – when her family moved to Hyllested Skovgårde in Djursland.
‘This was the first time I saw a couch in nappa leather, an electric organ, a red Opel Kadett. I was completely blown away, and it was all very exotic,’ she says.
But the city soon drew her in again. And at the age of 16, she moved to a small room in Aarhus where she earned her living as a cleaning assistant. Later she went to art school, and she also worked in a goldsmith’s workshop for a year.
‘At home we always had workshops in the living room, where we worked with leather, jewellery, metal, bone, etc. Perhaps that is why the large-scale work I do with cities and landscapes invariably relates to the site-specific and aesthetic’.
She discovered the architectural profession by chance when she attended a presentation by a student from the school.
‘After three minutes I was completely won over. Blown away. It was the combination of the practical – art and graphics – with socially relevant and intellectual aspects that I had been looking for.’
Katrina thus set out on a course that has taken her back and forth between the school of architecture and practice over the past 25 years.
‘Studying at the school of architecture was really tough but doing five cleaning jobs was also tough. It makes you more grateful for the opportunity to immerse yourself in something that’s so exciting.’
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