Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Bert De Jonghe

During the Fall semester of 2023, Doctor of Design candidate Bert De Jonghe was based in Tromsø, Arctic Norway. He was fortunate to work as a University Lecturer in a third-semester MLA studio titled “Territorial Practices.” This studio was part of a joint master’s program in landscape architecture between the ‘Oslo School of Architecture and Design’ and ‘UiT The Arctic University of Norway.’ Led by Eimear Tynan and with the participation of 14 graduate students, the course focused on high-Arctic delta environments in and around the town of Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

Delta environments are undergoing rapid change in high-Arctic regions, primarily due to accelerating temperatures. The repercussions of a warmer climate include melting and receding glaciers, rising sea levels, disrupted weather patterns, and thawing permafrost. To address complex environmental change, a range of spatial and temporal views of Arctic territories was needed. This incorporated mapping Svalbard’s aerial, marine and terrestrial territory from political, climatic, ecological, environmental, and cultural standpoints. It also required site-specific engagement on a human scale where graduate students were asked to design with an Arctic delta landscape in the town of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and to address present and future needs for human and non-human stakeholders.

In many ways, the studio aligned well with De Jonghe’s Doctor of Design project. His dissertation anticipates and frames the next chapter of settlement and infrastructural development in the high-Arctic. Departing as a work of synthesis and curation, the study is grounded in a historical understanding of Arctic settlements across a range of spatial, temporal, and cultural registers. This diverse, relational, and extensive reading of a plural Arctic is in each chapter linked to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Norway has complete sovereignty of the island group. Yet, the Svalbard Treaty grants all 46 signatory states equal rights to conduct commercial and scientific research activities on the archipelago. This results in an intricate mix of interests and stakeholders, as well as a fertile ground for design experimentation, collaboration, and speculation in a high-Arctic context.

In the News

Kongjian Yu headshot
2023 Oberlander Prize Laureate Kongjian Yu. Photo credit: Barrett Doherty. Courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Kongjian Yu (DDes ’95) Featured in the New York Times for his “Sponge City” Approach to Urban Floodwater Management

Among the challenges posed by climate change, floodwater looms large. Today, cities grapple with regular inundations brought by intensifying downpours and extreme weather events, and conventional approaches to stormwater management—drainage pipes, concrete channels, and the like—are proving insufficient. Landscape architect Kongjian Yu DDes ’95 offers an alternative solution, one that welcomes the water rather than fights to expel it. Yu calls this concept the “sponge city,” an idea that has been applied in 250 Chinese municipalities since 2015.

A recent New York Times article by Richard Schiffman, titled “He’s Got a Plan for Cities That Flood: Stop Fighting the Water,” details Yu’s sponge city approach and includes commentary by Niall Kirkwood, Charles Eliot Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Graduate School of Design.

DDes Alumni and Faculty article wins Best Paper Award by the Energy and Buildings Journal.

Dual Headshot of Holly Samuelson and Yujiao ChenYujiao Chen (DDes ’19), Les Norford, Holly Samuelson (DDes ’13), and Ali Malkawi’s article entitled “Optimal control of HVAC and window systems for natural ventilation through reinforcement learning”, was recently selected as one of the ten “Best Papers Awards” published between 2018 and 2022 by the Energy and Buildings journal.

Energy and Buildings is an international journal publishing articles with explicit links to energy use in buildings. The aim is to present new research results, and new proven practice aimed at reducing the energy needs of a building and improving indoor environment quality.

Aisha Densmore-Bey headshotAisha Densmore-Bey gives talk at Boston Architectural College

DDes Candidate Aisha Densmore-Bey recently gave a talk at Boston Architectural College as part of their 2023 Spring Lecture Series. She discussed the creative practice as an exercise of love and activism. She posed the question: How can one generate a body of work that interrogates and influences the built environment using various mediums, including film, authorship, and graphic design? In addition, Aisha reviewed her research on how artists have proactively used real estate and urban planning to build culturally rich and celebratory neighborhoods.

Alumni Publications


African American Design Nexus: The Nexus Podcast

The African American Design Nexus presents The Nexus, a podcast that explores the intersection of design, identity, and practice through conversations with Black designers, writers and educators. The Nexus Season 3 is hosted by Esesua Ikpefan, Doctor of Design student and Tomi Seyi Laja, 2023 alum of the Master of Architecture II program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.



Submit a News Story

If you have a news story or publication you would like featured, contact Melissa Hulett at the ASP office at [email protected]