Hamburg – zoning ‘growth islands’ and new modes of production

Let’s zoom in. To understand the IBA’s project dimensions, we began questioning its genealogy, its discourses and its practices. A first document for analysis that illustrates the then contemporary modes of urban development is the spatial model Metropolis Hamburg – Growing City1, published July 11th 2002 by the municipal press office. This citywide spatial model served as an umbrella for existing and future projects in a clearly outlined development corridor. The spatial model of Hamburg suggests strengthening its position as one of the ‘growth islands’ of demographic development in Germany. In a timespan from 1987 to 1999 Hamburg had the biggest growth rate amongst German cities at 6,9%. The bigger part of the pie came from so-called ‘long-distance migration’. Yet, this international mobility is ignored in the document’s strategy for implementing the ‘Growing City’ spatial model. The municipality offers a simplifying calculation: every new citizen immediately adds 3.000€ to the taxes that Hamburg as one of the federal states receives by way of Germany’s fiscal equation system. Yet this calculation ignores the heterogeneity of these new citizens and concentrates on the usual suspects: ‘Young, creative people are – besides young families with children – one of the main target groups. Apart from apprentices and skilled workers this includes students.’ The authors of the spatial model conclude that if it is possible to ‘restructure’ investments in the higher education sector the municipality would gain 690€ per capita per annum.2
This needs to be put into relation to the then contemporary trends in urban development. Such commodification in the form of assigning a precise financial value via an obviously oversimplified calculation in spatial guidelines falls in line with Sharon Zukin’s writings about the culture of cities first published in 1995, seven years prior to the spatial guidelines that were crucial for the IBA and hence the project UoN. As part of the transformation of the Fordist city to a post-Fordist and post-industrial city, a new relevance is attributed to the symbolic economies in terms of the marketing of land, houses and apartments. Symbolic space itself becomes a commodity.3 In 2002 Jörg Dräger, the former Senator for Science, is believed to have given out fresh copies of Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class to all members of the senate to peruse during the summer holidays.4 Florida, although out-published by Charles Landry and his book The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators published in 20005, became the figurehead for change in Hamburg. Like Wilson and Kelling’s ‘Broken Windows Theory’, originally an article in The Atlantic Monthly published in 1982, scientific findings made agencies available on a global scale.6 Florida offered a global blueprint for new modes of urban development. Dangschat in reference to Hamburg’s former mayor Klaus von Dohnanyi’s infamous speech Unternehmen Hamburg (Hamburg, a business case) summarised this under the header ‘moving business from the wet to the dry harbour’7, the dry harbour referring to Hamburg’s airport and standing for infrastructure ready for transnational creative industries companies such as facebook, google and advertising firms who today occupy inner city offices. Most pertinent to the UoN’s Phase 0 is that the notions of creativity, education, research and knowledge production related to urban development are aspects of alternative modes of production (a proposition for future activities).

Fig. 5. Studio Space during the research and design project ‘How to live together?’ with performance theatre group Cobra. Cobra Festival. Source: Research and Teaching Programme Urban Design
  1. Behörde für Stadtentwicklung und Wohnen, Metropole Hamburg - Wachsende Stadt, 2001,;jsessionid=5679A661C6DE338D4133E1CBE8FA1D14.liveWorker2

  2. Hamburger Stiftung für Wirtschaftsethik,

  3. Sharon Zukin, The Cultures of Cities, Cambridge, Wiley, 1996.

  4. Richard Florida, the Rise of the Creative Class, New York, Basic Books, 2002.

  5. Charles Landry, The Creative City. A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, Earthscan Publications, 2000.

  6. George Kelling and James Wilson, Broken Windows. The police and neighbourhood safety, 1982.

  7. Jens Dangschat, ‘Von der Vielfältigen Stadt zur Geteilten Stadt,’ Polis. Magazin für Urban Development 18(3-4), 2011, 16.