I work at a landscape / urban design / open-space planning firm in Berlin.
I had never heard of the firm until I came to Berlin; all of their projects are in Germany and they have just a handful of realized projects - but they are interesting projects - memorials for the Berlin Wall and concentration camps. I narrowed them down to the category of 'firms that get a printed portfolio' (as opposed to an emailed application) because I noticed that they had won some big competitions lately, and, well, I try to work strategically.
I liked their work, what I could see of it anyways. And I really wanted to work at a landscape firm even though entry level landscape architects typically make less money than graduate architects. I am quite eager to learn as much as I can about public space, good urban design, public parks, and natural projects in urban areas since that's where my interests lay.
One day I would like to work on industrial and urban remediation projects. Of course I'm passionate about good design in general, but I love working with nature and natural systems. I like micro-ecosystems and surprising contrasts between nature and urbanization. I like the minute details of things that no one really registers in their day to day life: the difference in paving materials between bike paths and sidewalks; leash hooks for dogs outside grocery stores; window boxes with flowers; paintings on the sidewalk; basically any kind of urban intervention. I think these things ease our relationship with the city and make us feel welcome. I think they help to build a connection to place. They make you feel comfortable. At home.
At work, I haven't yet had the opportunity to feel involved with a project since I've just been helping with odds and ends of various existing projects. But they just decided to enter a competition to redesign the old (main market square) in Nürnberg and I've been told I'm on the team. The square has been a market since about 1340 and I think it will be a very challenging and interesting project to work on. After all, how many chances do you get to make ideas for a medieval square that has been around for almost 7 centuries?
Public spaces... last. For a long, long time. They are really the main connection points of people to a city. When Nürnberg was bombed in 1945, one of the first things they did after the war was rebuild the old squares and churches. Places where people gather. The public spaces.
I still feel awkward and strange at work; waiting for work to be given to me and not being free to suggest things since I don't get the full meaning of what's distilled to me from German to English. But I know I am in the right field. I truly enjoy what I do all day. I'm excited about the projects we work on and I'm excited to see how projects are executed in the real world.