Making Room

Platzpro­jekt is part of the port­fo­lio of places with which the cul­tur­al office of the city admin­is­tra­tion of Hanover is com­pet­ing as a can­di­date for the Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture 2025.

About six­teen years ago, two skaters found a plot of fal­low land in Hanover-Linden’s indus­tri­al area. They start to clean up and build a small skate park. In 2009, they form an asso­ci­a­tion, nego­ti­ate an inter­im use con­tract with the own­er togeth­er with the city council’s sup­port, and reach a lease agree­ment for one euro per year, which is still valid today. In 2013, anoth­er asso­ci­a­tion is cre­at­ed: Platzpro­jekt aims to cre­ate a space for ini­tia­tives, a place for self-help, for mutu­al sup­port offer­ing knowl­edge, tools, and crafts­man­ship. Research funds and state sub­si­dies enable the estab­lish­ment of long-term par­tic­i­pa­tion struc­tures for young peo­ple who want to dis­cuss their cities in self-orga­nized spaces and active­ly shape them.


Project

PlatzPro­jekt


Actors

PlatzPro­jekt e.V., respon­si­ble body; City of Hanover, co-financ­ing, nego­ti­a­tion; Metro Group, land own­er­ship; Fed­er­al Min­istry of the Envi­ron­ment, co-financing


Year

Since 2013, found­ing of the association


Loca­tion

Hanover, Ger­many

© Chi­na Hopson
In 2004, a group of skaters occu­pied an over­grown piece of land in an indus­tri­al area in the west of Han­nover. The city admin­is­tra­tion and the dis­trict may­or Rain­er-Jörg Grube sup­port­ed the project by sign­ing a lease and extend­ing the activ­i­ties to a neigh­bor­ing prop­er­ty. © Philip Robin­son Crusius
© Sam Green

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A Somewhat Different Ministry of Space

Again and again, Min­istry of Space also works with choirs and musi­cians. Here: the choir of the nurs­ing home in the Bežani­js­ka Kosa dis­trict dur­ing a per­for­mance in the Ulič­na galer­i­ja (street gallery). The gallery, which has exist­ed since 2012, occu­pies a pub­lic pas­sage­way in the cen­ter of Bel­grade for fleet­ing moments. The events that have tak­en place-as many as 150 solo and group exhi­bi­tions and 80 oth­er event-are intend­ed to pro­mote a forum for a crit­i­cal dis­course on urban pol­i­cy issues out­side of com­mer­cial gal­leries and muse­ums. © Kamerades

Even if Min­istry of Space sounds quite offi­cial, it is not a state-run min­istry. Con­cealed behind the name is a small group of activists com­mit­ted to social jus­tice. Thus, the group fights for a city that ben­e­fits all those who live there. They fight against cor­rupt prac­tices, the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of pub­lic mon­ey, and—as they argue—abuses of pow­er by polit­i­cal play­ers. In this way, the activists mon­i­tor, ana­lyze, and crit­i­cal­ly com­ment upon large-scale urban devel­op­ment projects by transna­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions and the pri­va­ti­za­tion of pub­lic assets. They scru­ti­nize the con­struc­tion of lux­u­ry res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties or shop­ping cen­ters. Through their work, the group thus sup­ports a broad protest cul­ture that demands civ­il soci­ety inclu­sion in urban pol­i­cy events.


Project

Min­istarst­vo Pros­to­ra (Min­istry of Space)


Actors

Iva Čuk­ić, Jovana Tim­o­ti­je­vić, Radomir Lazović, Dobri­ca Veseli­nović , Marko Aksen­ti­je­vić, Min­istarst­vo Prostora


Year

Since 2011


Loca­tion

Bel­grade, Serbia

Protest Ne davi­mo Beograd. © Marko Rupena
The giant yel­low duck became the sym­bol of the ini­tia­tive “Don’t let Bel­grade D®own”, which made pub­lic the trans­for­ma­tion and dis­place­ment process­es along Belgrade’s river­side, protest­ing against forced evic­tions of exist­ing build­ings and the relo­ca­tion of impor­tant infra­struc­ture for the con­struc­tion of exclu­sive res­i­den­tial and office build­ings. © Min­istarst­vo prostora
Don’t Let Bel­grade Drown © Min­istarst­vo prostora
Don’t Let Bel­grade Drown © Min­istarst­vo prostora
© Iva Čukić

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A Refugee Hotel in the Heart of Athens

We Are City Plaza, Claude Somot & Xiao­fu Wang © Samir

The City Plaza Hotel in Athens’ Vic­to­ria dis­trict stood emp­ty for a long time. In April 2016, an ini­tia­tive, togeth­er with strand­ed refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syr­ia, and many oth­er places, occu­pied the build­ing. They trans­formed the 126-room ex-hotel into a res­i­den­tial com­plex and man­aged it them­selves. In doing so, the project is a demon­stra­tion of the prac­tice of eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal sol­i­dar­i­ty with refugees. Thus, it was also a cen­ter for the fight against racism, bor­ders, repres­sive migra­tion poli­cies, and social exclu­sion. After thir­ty-six months, the exper­i­ment came to an end in 2019. Despite the project’s brevi­ty, this build­ing in cen­tral Athens, as well as the activ­i­ties that unfold­ed there, rep­re­sent crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant top­ics to all of us—and not only in times of crisis.


Project

City Plaza Hotel


Actors

Sol­i­dar­i­ty Ini­tia­tive for Eco­nom­ic and Polit­i­cal Refugees, orga­ni­za­tion; Claude Somot, pho­tog­ra­ph­er and cura­tor of We Are City Plaza; Xiao­fu Wang, pho­tog­ra­ph­er and cura­tor of We Are City Plaza


Year

2016—2019


Loca­tion

Athens, Greece

We are City Plaza is a project of the French pho­tog­ra­ph­er Claude Somot and the Chi­nese pho­tog­ra­ph­er Xiao­fu Wang. For a peri­od of two weeks they lent cam­eras to 18 res­i­dents of the squat­ted hotel aged between 8 and 38 years. They took pic­tures of their dai­ly lives, which are shown here in excerpts. We Are City Plaza, Claude Somot & Xiao­fu Wang © Ali
We Are City Plaza, Claude Somot & Xiao­fu Wang © Hassan
The City Plaza Hotel in Athens was occu­pied by activists between 2016 and 2019 to pro­vide safe and dig­ni­fied accom­mo­da­tion for peo­ple on the run. The self-man­aged project was financed exclu­sive­ly from pri­vate funds and was sup­port­ed by sol­i­dar­i­ty. With­in a very short time, it estab­lished itself as a cen­ter for the fight against social exclu­sion and racism. We Are City Plaza, Claude Somot & Xiao­fu Wang © Abbas

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Initiative for a Cooperative Future City

The for­mer gate­house at Tem­pel­hof Air­port serves as the basis for the Torhaus Project, which is com­mit­ted to a city based on sol­i­dar­i­ty, eman­ci­pa­tion and the com­mon good. © Alexan­der Donath

Berlin-Tem­pel­hof Air­port build­ing: 312,000 square meters of total floor space. Con­cret­ed apron: 236,000 square meters. Tem­pel­hof Field: a vast 355 hectares. For twelve years, flight oper­a­tions have been sus­pend­ed. Since 2009 the build­ings, includ­ing the air­field, have been owned by the State of Berlin. In the inter­ven­ing years: dis­cus­sions and process­es about what to do with this mas­sive area. The col­lec­tive, which has been work­ing from the for­mer gate­house of the air­port since 2018, joins many oth­ers with the demand that what­ev­er trans­for­ma­tion hap­pens, it must be for the com­mon good—fit for our children’s chil­dren. This means: Mak­ing the city of the future and devel­op­ing new imag­i­nar­ies demand plan­ning with care for humans and non-humans, but also with respect for this planet.


Project

Torhaus Berlin


Actors

Torhaus Berlin, imple­men­ta­tion; THF.Vision, coop­er­a­tion part­ner; Tem­pel­hof Pro­jekt, coop­er­a­tion part­ner; Sen­ate for Urban Devel­op­ment and Hous­ing, poten­tial commission


Year

Since 2018


Loca­tion

Berlin, Deutsch­land

The ini­tia­tors of the project orga­nize work­shops that deal with the diverse sto­ries of the neigh­bor­hood and the air­port and at the same time crit­i­cal­ly com­ment on the design of the city. The Torhaus Fes­ti­val, for exam­ple, dealt with the bar­ri­er that the mas­sive air­port build­ing rep­re­sents for the uses on Tem­pel­hofer Feld, but also for the neigh­bor­ing quar­ters. © Alexan­der Donath
The inte­ri­or of the Torhaus was designed as a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry com­mu­ni­ty space, com­plete with com­mons library and radio sta­tion. © Alexan­der Donath
… or by acti­vat­ing free space, where peo­ple cut, cook, eat and wash up togeth­er, and fur­ni­ture for the use of the space was invent­ed next door. © Torhaus Berlin

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This Is Our House!

Hous­ing, just like land, must not be a commodity—this is the goal of the Miet­shäuser Syn­dikat in a nut­shell. Since its offi­cial foun­da­tion in Freiburg in 1993, it has devel­oped and pro­mot­ed self-orga­nized hous­ing projects. The unique fea­ture of the syn­di­cate is that land and build­ings are per­ma­nent­ly decom­mod­i­fied. This means that the orga­ni­za­tion, togeth­er with the ten­ants of a house, buys the prop­er­ty and the land, thus dis­solv­ing tra­di­tion­al own­er­ship struc­tures or oth­er depen­den­cies. By with­draw­ing build­ings and the land they stand on from the real estate mar­ket, the syn­di­cate posi­tions itself explic­it­ly against spec­u­la­tion and prof­it. Today, around 160 projects in Ger­many, the Nether­lands, and Aus­tria exist under the syndicate’s umbrel­la, mak­ing long-term afford­able res­i­den­tial, work­ing, and liv­ing spaces a reality.


Project

Miet­shäuser Syndikat


Actors

Miet­shäuser Syn­dikat Vere­in, indi­vid­u­als, house asso­ci­a­tions, groups, Miet­shäuser Syn­dikat GmbH


Year

Since 1992


Loca­tion

Ger­many

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A Different Kind of City Kitchen

The kitchen of Urban Space 100 finances a vari­ety of urban projects ini­ti­at­ed by civ­il soci­ety, such as the ren­o­va­tion of cul­tur­al her­itage, street music days, com­put­er work­shops for chil­dren or recy­cling sta­tions for plas­tics. © Teple Misto

When Yuriy Fylyuk and his friends moved from Kyiv to Ivano-Frankivsk in the sum­mer of 2008, they found a place with scarci­ties of all sorts. Out of this, Teple Mis­to or Warm City emerged—a net­work that today includes around six­ty local com­pa­nies. A restau­rant became one of the plat­forms for the group’s activ­i­ties and serves as a place for meet­ing as well as exchange. One hun­dred peo­ple par­tic­i­pate as co-financiers in the Urban Space 100 project. Since 2015, parts of the restaurant’s prof­its have gone into a pot that finances and sup­ports ini­tia­tives, small and larg­er projects. The mon­ey col­lect­ed in this way has already been used to restore his­toric build­ing entrances, pro­cure com­put­ers for med­ical facil­i­ties, and orga­nize sport­ing events and festivals.


Project

Urban Space 100


Actors

Yuriy Fylyuk and Wifty-two oth­er busi­ness­men, found­ing Teple Mis­to; Yuriy Fylyuk and six friends, devel­op­ing the idea of Urban Space 100; Teple Mis­to, man­ag­ing Pro­stir 100; 100 co-founders, Winanc­ing Pro­stir 100; Pro­stir 100 (NGO), allo­cat­ing grants; Restoran 100, restau­rant oper­a­tor; 23 Restoran, restau­rant man­age­ment company


Year

Since 2014, restau­rant opening


Loca­tion

Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

The Urban Space 100 at 19 Mykhaila Hru­shevsko­ho Street in Ivano-Frankivsk—a com­bi­na­tion of restau­rant, radio sta­tion and com­mu­ni­ty center—has been around since 2014. The idea for this place was gen­er­at­ed by the Teple Mis­to Plat­form, which was respon­si­ble for the pub­lic rela­tions work for the project and was also look­ing for the founders: 100 peo­ple, all of whom want­ed to play an active role in shap­ing their liv­ing envi­ron­ment. They do this by invest­ing 80% of the prof­its from the restau­rant in social­ly com­mit­ted and non-prof­it projects. On four dates a year, the mem­bers select projects that should be fur­ther sup­port­ed. © Teple Misto
© Ste­fan Marx

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A Quarter Taking Matters Into Its Own Hands

From 1969 to 1971 the pho­tog­ra­ph­er Nick Hedges doc­u­ment­ed life in Liv­er­pool. Nick was com­mis­sioned by the char­i­ty Shel­ter to trav­el through Eng­land and Scot­land and por­tray the lives of fam­i­lies liv­ing in slums and mis­ery. Here you can see young res­i­dents of Liv­er­pool walk­ing past an elec­tion poster in Gran­by Street. © Nick Hedges

In the 1980s, Tox­teth is the set­ting for vio­lent class strug­gles. Peo­ple move to oth­er parts of Liv­er­pool; many of the Vic­to­ri­an row hous­es fall into dis­re­pair. As a result, a group becomes active in the neigh­bor­hood. They clean up, plant flower beds, paint win­dows, and estab­lish a mar­ket. A Com­mu­ni­ty Land Trust is set up. The aim: to cre­ate afford­able hous­ing that is owned by the peo­ple from the neigh­bor­hood. The group con­vinces the munic­i­pal­i­ty not to demol­ish the hous­es. Lat­er, the archi­tec­ture col­lec­tive Assem­ble comes on board and devel­ops a plan for the area. Although the work is still unfin­ished and many hous­es are still in need of fur­ther atten­tion, the people’s goal of tak­ing the future of their area into their own hands has been achieved for the time being.


Project

Gran­by Four Streets Redevelopment


Actors

Gran­by Four Streets CLT; Steve Biko Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, sup­port­ing body; Ann O’Byrne, sup­port­er, for­mer Liv­er­pool City Coun­cil Deputy May­or and Cab­i­net Mem­ber for Hous­ing; Assem­ble, archi­tec­ture office


Year

Since 2011


Loca­tion

Liv­er­pool, Great Britain 

Assem­ble worked with the Gran­by Four Streets Com­mu­ni­ty Land Trust (CLT) to ren­o­vate 10 ruinous town hous­es on Cairns St. in Tox­teth. © Lewis Jones
© Lewis Jones
With the demo­li­tion of all but four of Granby’s streets, a once thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty was dis­persed and the remain­ing Gran­by Four Streets were sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed. Aer­i­al view of the demo­li­tion area of Gran­by Four Streets. Archive image © Assemble
The first Gran­by Work­shop prod­uct line was designed for homes in need of ren­o­va­tion and includ­ed bath­room tiles, door han­dles and fire­places. On dis­play here is a col­lec­tion of hand­made ceram­ic bot­tles, cups and glass­es for every­day use, based on local mate­ri­als. The com­pa­ny con­tin­ues to have a strong com­mu­ni­ty focus—operating from its premis­es on Gran­by Street, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the month­ly com­mu­ni­ty mar­ket and con­tin­u­ing to con­tribute to the ongo­ing local ren­o­va­tions. © Lewis Jones

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A Small Town’s Dialogue with Civil Society

Stadt­men­sch should empow­er peo­ple to take the ini­tia­tive and imple­ment their own project ideas. Var­i­ous instru­ments have been devel­oped for this pur­pose: There is the Stadt­men­sch Acad­e­my and Think Tank, which offers exchange, advice and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties on top­ics such as con­cept devel­op­ment, project man­age­ment and pub­lic rela­tions to help peo­ple set up their own busi­ness­es. The Stadt­men­sch-Fonds sup­ports ini­tia­tives. © Jens Paul Taubert

The small town of Altenburg in Thuringia is shrink­ing. Since the 1980s, the pop­u­la­tion has declined by over 40%. Numer­ous indi­vid­u­als and ini­tia­tives have there­fore been active for sev­er­al years. They want to coun­ter­act the down­beat atmos­phere. The coop­er­a­tion of var­i­ous ini­tia­tives, sup­port asso­ci­a­tions, and cul­tur­al institutions—Stadtmensch—is sup­port­ed by a pro­gram under the Nation­al Urban Devel­op­ment Pol­i­cy and work­ing on pur­pose­ful­ly expand­ing exist­ing mod­els for the co-pro­duced city. In con­crete terms, the aim is for civ­il soci­ety to assume respon­si­bil­i­ty for pub­lic indoor and out­door spaces. Calls for ideas bring forth projects, the imple­men­ta­tion and pro­mo­tion of which are decid­ed upon by locals through var­i­ous pro­ce­dures. An impor­tant cri­te­ri­on: the projects should serve the com­mon good.

Link to Audio guide


Project

Stadt­men­sch


Con­trib­u­tors

Erlebe was geht gGmbH, respon­si­ble body; Fed­er­al Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or, Build­ing and Com­mu­ni­ty, co-financing


Year

Since 2018


Loca­tion

Altenburg, Ger­many

How best to dis­trib­ute fund­ing? »Stadt­men­sch« try a vari­ety of meth­ods. Some­times darts are thrown on a city map, some­times projects wor­thy of sup­port are select­ed through a mul­ti-stage process. © Stadtmensch
Var­i­ous actions in pub­lic space are intend­ed to encour­age more peo­ple to get involved and revi­tal­ize pre­vi­ous­ly unused places in the city. Here: the audi­ence of a radio play instal­la­tion in the con­text of the sec­ond Mit­Mach­Markt. In addi­tion to the Mit­Mach­Markt, there is the Stadt­men­sch-Fes­ti­val, a bazaar on Altenburg’s his­toric mar­ket square, where the numer­ous ini­tia­tives from the fields of art and pol­i­tics, sports and the envi­ron­ment, social affairs and cul­ture can meet and exchange ideas. © Anja Fehre

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