Many Landscape Architecture students use the summer to gain valuable work experience or study abroad. We recently caught up with UKLA student Harrison Knifley to learn a little about his summer 2019 experience studying abroad in Copenhagen Denmark!


1)     How did you get interested in studying abroad in Copenhagen?


I became interested in studying abroad in Copenhagen when I was an incoming freshmen at UK. I was filling out scholarship information and one of the essay questions asked me to pick a place I would like to study abroad and explain why. I did my research and chose Copenhagen as my destination because of Denmark’s impact on sustainable cities and urban livability. I had no clue that I would be continuing on with my plans to travel to Copenhagen at that time, but two years later I decided to follow through with my original plans and started arranging my studies in Copenhagen.


2)     Tell us about the class you took in Copenhagen? What were you doing from one day to the next?


While I was in Copenhagen I studied Strategies for Urban Livability with a program called DIS. This class was an interdisciplinary course which alternates between scales of public space and street design to urban policy and planning. During my time in Copenhagen we explored urban livability through three lenses:

Theory: Livability on Paper: What are the key principles of livability - terminology, definitions, factors, indicators, measures, metrics and rankings

Practice: Livability in Reality: Using Copenhagen as a laboratory, we explored when, where, and what the parameters are for urban livability, in terms of societal context - what shapes our parameters for well-being- and physical context - the tangible environment and how we shape our urban landscape

Implementation: Facilitating Urban Change: What are the mechanisms for fostering urban livability, who are the different stakeholders, and how are they involved

The city of Copenhagen was used as a classroom, so most of my time was spent traveling around the city. Most days I traveled around on a bicycle as most Danes do, but other days would be spent either walking around the city or taking notes in a lecture hall. As part of my studies I was assigned to explore the city on my own as well. During these trips I was assigned to pick a public space and collect data, sketch, and gauge public life.

3)     What were two surprising cultural differences you encountered?

There were many cultural differences I experienced in Denmark, but two of the biggest differences was that almost everybody spoke English and the biking culture in Copenhagen is among the best in the world. I was surprised to know that mostly everyone speaks English, which made traveling and shopping much easier for me. One of the first things I did in Copenhagen was rent a bike from a local bike parlor. I have always heard that biking in Denmark was a great way to get around and I quickly figured out that biking is definitely the way to go in Copenhagen. If anyone is planning to travel to Copenhagen I would highly suggest renting a bike.

4)     Describe one or two insights you gained as an emerging Landscape Architect.

As an emerging Landscape Architect I value the opportunity to study public spaces and understand how it functions and serves the surrounding community. During my time in Copenhagen I visited Gehl Architects to attend a lecture on how to gauge public life in a social space. Gehl is known worldwide for their work in urban design, focusing on making cities designed for people. During the lecture I gathered some useful methods developed by Gehl to gauge public life based on research from studying public life all over the world. I plan to use these tools as a way to improve public livability and my understanding of public spaces.

5)     What’s your best advice for someone in the early stages of planning to study abroad?

Now that I have returned back to Lexington I can think back on my experience and remember all that I have gained. Good friends and memories for sure, but most of all I have gained an experienced that will help determine my future in Landscape Architecture. To anyone that is in the early stages of planning on studying abroad, my best advice to you is to not limit yourself. Do not let budget or distance determine where you go. Before you chose where you want to go make sure to search around for any available scholarships and funding. During my planning on my trip to Copenhagen I was concerned about the cost of studying abroad, but it was worth every penny!

Author: Tasha Cotter
Contact: 859-257-7295