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The jury committee selected two winners from numerous applications from over fifteen countries for this year’s GRAFT Travel Grant. We congratulate Sindhuri Nandhakumar and Franziska Martin with „Where is our trash?” and Katherine Ball with “Water-Energy-Food Nexus at Floating University Berlin” to their convincing proposals and wish them much joy and success in the realization within the coming months.

We released the open call for this year’s Travel Grant prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. In order to honor the efforts and time that went into the numerous applications, the jury decided to still award this year’s grant, and give the scholars the chance to adapt their projects in the most safe and feasible ways in times of the pandemic, especially in the light of current travel restrictions.

We would like to sincerely thank all applicants for their contributions of an extraordinarily high quality to this year’s call for projects!

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Winning Proposal Nr. 1: ‘Where is our trash?’


For this project, Sindhuri and Franziska will study the story of Danish trash, and go into the nuances of how, a country that is a leader of carbon neutrality and waste management, is still contributing to a very important problem: exporting waste and placing strains on countries that might not be best equipped to handle it.

While official statistics from the government of Denmark show that only a few countries, like Germany and Turkey, receive its trash, this hides an important truth. The journey doesn’t end here. Germany, for instance, exports its own trash, including some that come to its shores from Denmark. When these items are exported onwards to other countries, lile Malaysia, India or Indonesia, the German government marks them as ‘recycled’. That makes for an attractive statistic. After all, shipping plastic waste can be less expensive than storing it at home. But it takes a toll on the countries receiving them.

The research of ‘Where is our trash’ will be depicted in a multi-media story: a podcast and a photographic website — that details the journey of plastic from Denmark to Germany and onwards with interviews with stakeholders including city authorities, trash sorters, environmental experts and residents affected by the trash.

Above all, the two stipendiats are interested in the solutions. How are local communities organising against these practices?

Winning Proposal Nr. 2: ‘Water-Energy-Food Nexus at Floating University Berlin’


To respond to climate change and its consequences for the built environment, Katherine Ball’s  interdisciplinary project brings together art, architecture, education and the environment. It picks up the thread of UNBUILDING WALLS and follows it through fluid territory to the nexus of water, energy, and agriculture. Working with the medium of water, one of the most fugitive resources, it inquires: What might we learn from water, an entity that is in perpetual migration? How might a deeper relationship with water help us think in new ways about migration and adapting to change? Where will this fugitive resource lead us at the end of stationarity?

With the support of GRAFT Travel Grant, this summer Katherine will travel to Berlin to perform public research in a polluted rainwater basin receiving the runoff from the former Tempelhof airport. This basin is the location of Floating University Berlin, an educational experiment that brings together neighborhood residents (including the local

mosque, refugee camp, garden colony, and police station) with students and professors from 25 universities across Europe. Katherine has been involved with Floating University since 2018 when she was awarded a Bundeskanzlerstipendium to work on it for a year as the “Water Filtration and Infiltration” Artist in Residence, during which she developed a biological water filtration system that filtered polluted water on site (

Katherine will continue to play an active role as a member of the Floating University e.V. that has had over 10,000 visitors since its foundation.

In the upcoming months as a GRAFT Travel Grant Scholar Katherine will undertake three applied research activities at Floating University Berlin:

. Grow a vegetable garden in the rainwater basin that experiments with different sources of water.

. Organize a series of water rituals in the basin, with the intention of helping people form deeper relationships with water.

. Work on a prototype for a self-cleaning rainwater basin in collaboration with Raumlabor Architects. The prototype is scheduled to be built at Floating University in 2021.The prototype is set in the polluted rainwater basin inhabited by Floating University Berlin. Polluted water enters the basin, but only clean water leaves.