Atrium Radio Hamburg



Over the week we spent time in the HCU atrium with the aim of uncovering its hidden potentials: as a common, social space to meet and share ideas.
We observed the behaviors of the people and the physical environment, and asked, through making: How could we inhabit this empty atrium? What are the needs of the inhabitants here? How could we modify this space to suggest other ways of dwelling and being in the atrium?


Day 1

Through observing other people and ourselves, we researched climate/atmosphere, sound, social, spatial aspects of the HCU atrium.

Dominique gave use a tour and told stories of recent happenings in the university. A shortage of work spaces for students. Strange access/door issues, card validation pole.

»Walking into this space feels like tress-passing. I feel inhibited, like this place is to be kept as suggested in the renderings.«

Sound mapping and changes over the day…




From the analysis… many ideas were thrown around…

  • Islands

  • Waterwall

  • Slide

  • Wi-Fi & Snacks

  • People are lazy

To feel more at home, we started moving things around. we carried »Bühnenelemente« from the auditorium into the atrium to make islands surrounded by plants for dwelling, places to lie down, nap and look at the glass ceiling. sometimes they were obstacles to the passers-by and they made the space less transparent. you can no longer see everything in a quick glance. Bird sounds and ocean waves played on a laptop. The visual and auditory noise we provided by our resence made it easier for a newcomer to blend in, lessening the impact and exposure of the individual when one enters the space.


»Shiny surfaces, echoing sounds interfere with crits and presentations.«
An idea: to connect inside and outside towards side of the U-bahn. activate the terrace and suggest other uses for the atrium than to only pass by.


»The plants and seating islands added folds, creases and nooks into the clean, smooth space of the empty atrium. Manifold, Vielfalt.«



Another idea: lightweight, foldout walls on wheels that students can store away like a book when not present.

Student Work Foldout


Day 2

Material inventory in the basement. Rearranging: introducing work tables and chairs. Many ideas bounced around and tested: hanging plants, sleeping nooks, even rubbery spider webs from cut-up bike inner-tubes anchored from the higher floors…

»The behaviour of place-making does not have to be a literal building. It is in people‘s heads and a matter of how you organise your time. Forming a habit can be a building. An occasion is a building.«

  • Garden Platform Wheels

  • Isometric Hanging

»You can always change your mind while doing something.«

End of the day meeting

The locals expressed desires to question: ›What is a university?‹ ›How to encourage students to take more ownership, to think critically about the place they study
and participate in it?‹ ›How can we create structures which facilitate this?‹

A pirate radio idea emerged...

Day 3

Breakfast on the deck facing the U-Bahn so people see something is going on as they exit the station.


An editing day to focus the ideas

We divided into three teams to work on:

  1. the Atrium radio programme for the presentation
  2. the magazine and how-to guide (what you are holding in your hands!)
  3. the scaffolding and mobile pallet structures inside and outside, for the radio studio, coffee machine, and relaxed seating.


    »…a playground for grownups would have been a good idea!…rather than abstracting into virtual worlds.«
    Laptop Circle



    »I came here at 8:30am, and people were sitting on our island platforms, and looking up with delight and curiosity.«
    At 17:30, we were asked to clear the fire escape routes. The islands went back into being lecture stage.

»Please think about how to water the plants – should be funny!«

Day 4

Some of us went to the »Baumarkt« and got materials to build the outdoor garden/tower, the radio station and mobile planters which also provide seating. The radio group prepares a first broadcast. This magazine is put together to summarize our findings.
»Building is a special way of suggesting.«