Hometown: St. Gallen, Switzerland
Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '22
Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture
University of Eastern Switzerland, HSR (today called OST), University of Applied Sciences
What kind of questions or curiosities did you have when you decided to pursue a degree in landscape architecture?
I started my professional journey in Landscape Architecture around 10 years ago, when I decided to start a dual education, which is unique to the Swiss educational system. There I combined high school simultaneously with an apprenticeship as a draftsman in the field of spatial and constructional planning. I got to experience and enjoy various aspects of Landscape Architecture during that time and I wanted to know more about the profession, which is why I started my undergraduate degree immediately after. Since then, my passion for Landscape Architecture continued to grow and I got to learn new aspects of it throughout the years. After a while, I wanted to know more about how Landscape Architecture is practiced internationally, in other countries and other cultures, which was one of the reasons why I decided to start my Master’s abroad, more specifically, here at Cornell.
How would you characterize your design ethos? How has that been adapted since arriving at Cornell?
My education in Switzerland was always very oriented around the applied part of the practice and therefore I gained a lot of technical skills and knowledge during that time. In general, as I experienced it, Landscape Architecture in Switzerland is very technical and numeric. On the other hand, here in the US or in particular here at Cornell, which was one of the reasons for choosing this program, I’m now able to focus on research and design. Therefore, I’ll be able to combine the two, my technical and applied skills and the design and research knowledge. Additionally, Cornell offers the opportunity for students to do a thesis, which is not always possible elsewhere. The thesis track, so far, has enabled me to focus more deeply on one particularly interesting topic, which has definitely strongly influenced my design ethos, focus and knowledge.
Are there any particular courses you've been seeing at Cornell that leverage your interests?
Because I’m in the two year track, my time at Cornell is very limited. Thus, all the very interesting courses, offered by the diverse faculty in our own department, already fill my schedule. Nevertheless, there would be many exciting courses offered outside of the department, for example in the Architecture, Art and Planning department, which would definitely be amazing to take and which I might be able to take during the rest of my study.
Being at Cornell, has living in the Finger Lakes region informed your view on the field, or even broader, the environment?
The Finger Lakes region is a very unique and beautiful place. Coming from Switzerland, where the hills are sharp and steep and the land is scarce and small, the never-ending forests, huge watersheds, and large trees of upstate New York form a totally new environment to experience and learn about. Environmentally and ecologically speaking, there are many similarities between Switzerland and the Finger Lakes region, besides the fact that they both produce amazing wine. A lot of the plants which grow in Ithaca can grow in Switzerland too, there are many gorges and lakes to explore and the winters are snowy and cold in both places. Nevertheless, the scale of nature here in the US and therefore larger connections, impacts and risks, nationally and internationally, for example, imposed by climate change, are of much greater proportions.
Reflecting on your interests, how do you hope to define your concentration in the program?
What my concentration would look like was not clear to me at all when I started. There are so many different aspects to Landscape Architecture and I am highly interested in many of them, which is why I did not have one particular one in mind when I started the program. In my undergrad, my concentration was on Urban Design, which is definitely still one of my bigger interests. Now here at Cornell, after taking multiple courses and finishing an independent study about materials and materiality, I decided to form my concentration in materials.
What kind of organizations or activities have you become involved in within Ithaca?
One of the benefits of the Ithaca campus and its rural location is that there is a lot of opportunity for us, students, to engage in outdoor activities. I have always been very interested in sports and being outdoors, which I was able to continue here in Ithaca. In my free time, I went on beautiful hikes in the scenic gorges nearby with my fellow students, visited the golf course, went for runs, or attended matches of the Cornell football and hockey team.
What would you tell your younger self from ten years ago? What would you tell your future self ten years ahead?
10 years ago, I definitely did not know that I would once live in the US and study at Cornell. Therefore, I would tell my future self ten years ahead to continue to explore the world and stay open to the unknown.