Study Sketchbook Tour – A Dose of Denmark

drawings from days 052-057 and my personal introduction to Dutch and German architecture

At DIS, classes are canceled one week in October and one in November. Students spend one of these weeks traveling to another country (or two!) with DIS professors and other students in their discipline. The other week is just a break that many students use as an independent travel opportunity. For my first week of study trip, I traveled with DIS professors and other architecture students in the Netherlands and Germany. I had many opportunities to sketch during the trip, but even so I couldn’t capture everything on paper. What I achieved is below; both drawings from my daily sketchbook and sketches I made in my studio sketchbook.

Day 052

An early morning flight from Copenhagen left me and my fellow travelers in the Netherlands with anticipation and a newfound appreciation for Copenhagen Airport (infinitely better than Frankfurt.) From the start of the tour , we were late. So, after dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we found ourselves running through the streets of Amsterdam, completely disoriented, but blindly following our brave – and thankfully very tall – guide Jeppe. Naturally, once we arrived at our destination, we waited 20 minutes for our boat to arrive. Canal tours can be a bit cliché, but in Amsterdam it’s a great way to see iconic canals and historic buildings, like the one I drew. Also, they serve drinks.

Day 053

I love how these sketches turned out. I enjoyed the colors and it was a peaceful morning practice. That being said, it was strange to visit the site of the Silodam, an apartment building that we couldn’t get into. When reminiscing about our adventures, this is the site most of my tour mates forget. Despite my aesthetic appreciation for this sketch, I don’t think it sums up the wonderful time I spent at all – well, not everything- of what Amsterdam has to offer.

With only a full day in Amsterdam, we somehow managed to settle into a building, a film museum, my new favorite library, two art museums, a dinner that was admittedly worth the two hour wait and , one way or another, Mariah Carey in October .

Day 054

It was one of the most serene experiences I have had abroad. I liked it so much that I wrote a separate blog post for it!

Day 055

These are sketches from the “Depot Boijmans van Beuningen” in Rotterdam, affectionately known as “The Cereal Bowl”. It is a giant temporary facility built to display and store a huge art collection while the nearby art museum is undergoing a complete renovation. Its massive massing and reflective facade isn’t usually a style of architecture I appreciate, but it was interesting to see how it provided a giant mirror in the middle of Rotterdam’s museum grounds.

Later that day we went to the Kunsthal Rotterdam, designed by the (in)famous Rem Koolhaus. This contemporary art museum had some intriguing elevation transitions and quite a fun use of color. My hastily sketched here shows an auditorium in the building.

Day 056

Most of this day was spent on a bus ride from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Cologne, Germany. The only stop we made was the Insel Hombroich museum. It was an instant crowd favorite. The “museum” is more like a park with a large landscaped area filled with groves of trees, manicured gardens and open plains. Nestled in the landscape, simple and elegant buildings are designed as inhabitable sculptures. After days of exhausting travels in brand new cities, this escape into nature was just what I needed. It was the only sketch I made that day. I don’t really like that. I tried to capture the staghorn sumac growing near the water because seeing this plant reminded me so much of my home and my childhood, but honestly I was more interested in wandering than drawing that day and I’m glad it does.

Day 057

On our last day, we went to the Kolumba Museum, designed by Peter Zumthor. The museum and art collection was built around the ruins of an old church and it instantly became a new favorite building for me. The tectonics of the materials fascinated me and I loved the organization and design of the courtyards at the back of the building. The exterior facade incorporated the facade of the old church in a way that was authentic, modern and historic.

Before Zumther, however, we first visited the famous Kolner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). It was the first gothic cathedral I had seen in person. I can now safely say that I understand the hype. Seeing it in person and climbing the MANY stairs to the top of the bell tower early in the morning is not an experience I could replicate in quick sketches or photos.

As mind-blowing as it was, the experience started out uncomfortable for me. This was partly due to lack of sleep and travel fatigue, but it was also strange for me to visit a cathedral in a secular academic setting. I attended Lutheran schools from kindergarten through high school, so school trips to religious institutions are no stranger to me, but my brain still hasn’t figured out what to do with itself when I visit places like the Kolner Dom in groups where personal beliefs are not really shared or easily discussed. This, combined with the antagonism often created between Catholicism and Protestants and my own personal struggle to balance my personal faith and relationship with God with the history of damage done by organized religion, has left me on edge. . But the building was beautiful and I wanted to draw it. So after we students were freed up to explore the cathedral further or head out into the city, I sat on a bench to sketch what I saw.

As I began to draw, the irony of the situation settled on me. I felt that my experience at the Insel Hombroich Museum the day before had been much more spiritual than the one I had had at the Cathedral. There had been fewer mental and emotional barriers between me and my faith when I wandered in the sumac than here in the church. No big revelations or insights followed that thought. I didn’t draw any conclusions about myself or the world around me. But as I listened to the familiar organ music that began to play and continued to draw, I calmed down considerably until I finally felt a quiet peace. I was very happy to have stayed.

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