Arts & Sciences Collaboration between Macromedia University Munich and Technical University Munich.

During winter term 2020/21, the first transdisciplinary research and development project with students in Landscape Planning at Technical University Munich (TUM), supervised by PD Dr. Tina Heger, and students of the international M.A. Design Management master programme at Macromedia University Munich, supervised by Prof. Oliver Szasz took place. This research and development project aimed at exploring and evaluating conceptual approaches and appropriate methods to foster collaboration between the sciences and creative practice. TUM students were given the task to develop visions for a sustainable future based on existing ideas and practices, whilst Macromedia students were asked to utilize methods of Design Thinking, to foster the exchange and translation of knowledge.

Although there has been a significant growth in attention globally to Design Thinking by universities since the beginning of 2000s as a generalist training and problem solving methodology, mostly in the context of MBA programs, there is a lack of knowledge about the potentials of interdisciplinary interactions and communication processes in interdisciplinary collaboration enhanced by Design Thinking. The intention of this project was that an interaction between the students should enhance co-creational processes that benefit both groups and disciplines, and possibly lead to results that bridge arts and sciences.

Project conclusion and critical reflection

Given the restrictions due to the pandemic, interaction possibilities between students from TUM and Macromedia University was quite limited. Probably as a consequence, in the beginning of the semester it took a while until an interactive atmosphere established. Soon, however, the students began to appreciate the interaction. The TUM students reported that for them it was very stimulating to be confronted with diverse design management approaches, and thus approaches to thinking and communicating that were outside of their regular study program. For many of them, developing graphical representations of their results became a major part of their project.

Overall, this project demonstrated that co-creation can be enhanced through interactivity based on visualization and embodiment of knowledge, which is part of the epistemology predominant in the arts. Furthermore, introducing science students to non-linear, iterative processes that utilize also implicit, not yet codified knowledge, e.g. personal experiences and emotions, proofed effective in enhancing creative processes and idea generation. Learning from design managers about the importance of strategies to effectively communicate concepts to relevant stakeholders, motivated the TUM students to put significantly more emphasis on visualizations of their research results.


PART A – Macromedia Project Outcomes

For the Macromedia students the task was facilitating the creation of visions for a livable future. The first step of the project was exploring the diverse expectations and epistemologies in the context of collaboration between diverse knowledge fields. The second step emphasized on approaches and methods to enhance communication and participatory processes in order to create synergies and new areas of mutual knowledge.

As a result of this collaboration, three different approaches were proposed by the design management master students of Macromedia University to enable collaboration between different disciplines based on design thinking and arts-based methods. The student teams focussed in particular on: storytelling, tacit knowledge transfer and enhancing creativity.

Macromedia Project I: Storytelling
(Macromedia student team: Lutong Zhang, Parisa Nikoosokhan and Sheng Lun Chang)

Macromedia Project II: Tacit Knowledge Transfer Through Arts-based Methods
(Macromedia student team: Deepali Potdaar and Mansi Srivastava)

Macromedia project III: Enhancing creativity through introducing Flow state exercises to project process.
(Macromedia student team: Divya Dinesh, Varun Pendse and Kanishk Srivastav)

The Landscape Planning students from the Technical University Munich were involved in testing the proposed methods in interactive workshops and co-created collaboratively positive, integrative and multifaceted visions for a livable future and towards a respectful and rewarding interaction with other living beings, on a global, regional and local level. In the Example of the storytelling approach an adapted storytelling methodology based on James Campell’s model The Hero’s Journey was suggested by the student team to be utilised in an interactive, co-creation workshop setting in order to enhance imagination and communication. The participating team from TUM created content for each step of the storytelling methodology and subsequently visualised the final story. Each step of the story was reviewed in qualitative interviews in order to create collaboratively new knowledge and fresh perspectives.

PART B – TUM Project Outcomes

TUM project I: Industrial and commercial zones 2050 – Sustainable production areas
(Summary provided by Moritz Albersdörfer, Stefan Reinthaler and Jonathan Schedler)

Humanity is facing major challenges: Climate change, biodiversity crisis and pandemics. These problems are closely linked to our economic practices and our use of resources. Commercial and industrial areas play a key role in this.

These areas are highly dynamic. The average total useful lifetime for commercial and industrial buildings is between 25 and 50 years and these areas continue to grow rapidly. In Bavaria alone, over 280 km² of new industrial and commercial parks have been built in the last 20 years, which is equivalent to about 39500 football fields. Considering that 1/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the construction sector, it becomes clear how necessary new forms of industrial and commercial parks are.

Our vision for industrial and commercial parks wants to improve the ecological value of these areas, offer companies attractive production areas, reduce resource consumption and upgrade quality of stay. To achieve this, our vision consists of two main elements: A commercial or industry bridge and flexible modules that complement the bridge.

The bridge can be thought of as a large shopping centre, but for all kinds of commerce and industry. It is planned with a planning horizon of 200 years or more to reduce construction activity. The entire bridge represents a valuable habitat due to its intensive green roof and reduces land sealing. The accessibility of the roof via a slope integrates the building in the landscape and opens up new possibilities for use, such as energy production, biotope link or recreation and sport.

© M. Albersdörfer, S. Reinthaler, J. Schedler, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0. Version 1.0


The centre building is complemented by flexible modules that function according to the modular principle. The modules are located on a track system on which they can be moved and connected to the centre building. This allows businesses to expand or downsize as needed without new construction activity. The modules themselves can be used differently to suit needs such as Parking areas or room for start-ups.

The combination of the long-term bridge and flexible modules gives flexibility to companies and reduces resource consumption and construction activity at the same time. Companies can benefit of synergy effects produced by the compactness of the area such as a joint energy and water management and a positive sustainable image. The transition from residential neighbourhoods into the landscape is improved and the monofunctional use of common commercial areas is broken-up, which can profit residents and communities. And finally, municipalities benefit from an attractive production area.

TUM project II: The future of the agricultural landscape in the EU
(summary provided by Judith Kloibhofer and Franziska Springer)
The current state of our environment is worrying. Bleak landscapes and the exploitation of our natural capital require rethinking and actions targeting a sustainable future. Because agriculture is one of the main contributors to the poor state of the environment, the future development of the agricultural landscape requires more attention. Additional challenges are the sufficient supply of nutritious food for the growing population and the increasing land scarcity.

With its visions for the year 2050 the EU strives after favourable conditions for humanity and the environment. The aim is to progress towards a sustainable circular economy. Therefore, two elements of the European Green Deal deserve specific attention: the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity Strategy. Both contain concrete goals for reducing fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics and waste, while encouraging organic farming, divers structural landscape elements, ecological restoration and nature conservation. Their implementation depends on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that currently undergoes a realignment. However, it does not seem likely that all the strategy goals will be taken into account.

Regardless of this political framework, agricultural practices are being developed that also have the aim to improve the current situation. Organic farming, agroforestry and biointensive vegetable cultivation are sustainable but nevertheless high-yield practices. Food forests and permaculture, on the other hand, are more suitable if self-sufficiency and the improvement of natural cycles is targeted. These regenerative farming practices all have beneficial effects on the environment and can be supported by the innovative techniques of precision farming to increase efficiency.

With our study project (TU Munich, Landscape planning 6, winter term 2020/21, supervised by T. Heger), we suggest the combination of these practices integrated into a multifunctional sustainable agricultural landscape as a new vision for agricultural landscapes in the EU, illustrated in the figure. We established 11 common goals including food security, economic efficiency and increased biodiversity which will be implemented through the different regenerative farming practices. Wherever possible, the transition from conventional to organic farming should be realised (shown in bright green). Different kinds of agroforestry like alley cropping, woodland pasture and orchards are represented in yellow. The increased demand for regional vegetables can be met with the help of biointensive vegetable cultivation (red fields). Food forests (marked in orange) can be used as recreation features and biodiversity hotspots in urban contexts. The holistic approach of permaculture in dark green is a similar concept outside of cities. Finally, precise applications (in blue) using drones, satellite systems, sensors and autonomous facilities simplify and enhance various workflows. Overall, this future landscape creates room for economical, ecological and social interactions.

© J. Kloibhofer, F. Springer, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0. Version 1.0


TUM project III: The future of ecological restoration – Landscapes 2050: Visions for a good life
(summary provided by Bigna Abderhalden, Elisabeth Hein and Magdalena Lutz)

Progressive environmental degradation and the dramatic decline in biodiversity are among the most pressing challenges that confront modern society. To ensure a world worth living in, society, politics and science have to assume joint responsibility for these challenges. This means they have to develop visions and find solutions to these problems. We believe these solutions and strategies need to be conveyed in a positive and forward-looking manner. We will not achieve the much-needed change of mindset just by setting a tone of increased threats and devastating news. In a semester project at the Chair of Restoration Ecology at the Technical University Munich our aim was to get an overview of existing ecosystem restoration strategies. Therefore, we compared reports on three different levels: the Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on the global level, the European Union Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, and two reports on the national level from the German government (National Strategy on Biological Diversity by Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU); Rethinking Land in the Anthropocene: from Separation to Integration by German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)). We displayed our findings in illustrations (shown here is our visualization for forest ecosystem restoration) in order to make our results more accessible to the broader public.

We found each report had a slightly different focus but the overall aim of recovery, halt of further degradation and enhancement of the quality of ecosystems was universal. With our visualisation we demonstrate a pathway to the restoration of our present ecosystems and a desirable vision for future forests, agricultural and urban ecosystems.

© B. Abderhalden, E. Hein, M. Lutz, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0. Version 1.0


TUM project IV: Creating a vision for migratory species for the year 2030
(summary provided by Sandra Herrmann and Corinna Romeikat)

Organisms don’t stop at national borders. They are migrating. In the case of the Arctic tern, even up to 20,000 km (Decker, 2020). If we want to protect endangered species, we need a conservation program that works internationally – It makes no sense to invest money for protecting an endangered species in one country and shoot this species in the other. With this project we want to raise awareness of conservation across national borders.

Two international conventions exist with the goal of enabling conservation across national borders: The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention;, operating at the European level, and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention;, which operates worldwide.

(Bundesministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Energie, Mobilität, Innovation und Technologie, 2021a, 2021b; CMS, 2020b; Council of Europe, 2020; Wikipedia, 2020)

© S. Herrmann, C. Romeikat, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0. Version 1.0


To achieve our goal, we want to understand how conservation based on these two conventions works. Therefore, we conducted a research on the Internet. We found out that they have a similar organizational structure. The treaties are legally binding for their member states, and a Standing Committee ensures that they are observed. In annexes, the conventions list the species relevant to their provisions. A particularly large number of bird species are listed. Action plans focused on implementing concrete measures, however, exist for very few listed species only. For the Great Bustard, as an example, the Bern Convention has an action plan that is 10 years old. It was updated in 2020 by the Bonn Convention. And despite of the existence of action plans, during the ten years between 2010 (Bern Convention Action Plan) and 2020 (Bonn Convention Action Plan), the population size has decreased from 50,881 individuals to 43,367.

We used these results to create a vision that raises awareness of conservation across national borders. To do this, we built on a paper published in Science (Mace, 2014) titled “Whose conservation?” in which a timeline shows a changing relationship between nature and people from 1960 to 2014 as a basis for conservation action. Assuming that the relationship will change in the future again, we have developed the vision People connect nature where people create a green network for migratory species across national borders. According to this vision, a newly established convention, incorporating the positive aspects of the Bern and Bonn Conventions, will ensure the coordination of the vision. Maybe this project can make a small contribution to help us gain a new perspective in the future. A perspective that opens borders.



Decker, S. (2020). Zugvogelrekorde. [Link:]

Mace, G. M. (2014). Ecology. Whose conservation? Science (New York, N.Y.), 345(6204), 1558–1560. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254704. [link:]

Image sources:

Global map of animal migration by Cristobal Schmal for CMS [link:]

Member states of Bern and Bonn Convention: Own graph with elements taken from Bundesministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Energie, Mobilität, Innovation und Technologie [Link: and], Council of Europe [Link:], Wikipedia [Link:] and CMS [link:]