We all started this project from the very beginning in an unfamiliar territory. But not knowing was definitly part of the fun. It was only through our embedded practice, when curiosity & excitement kept growing along with varieties of cultures and their everyday practices. Slowly, we tried to learn by walking on the streets of Wilhelmsburg, saying “hallo” to the inhabitants, gathering with them in several places. Slowly we discovered new perspectives and became aware of potentialities in dealing with the everyday. To move forward with the project, we created hospitality through the performative practice of the hotel, we organised and created events and mixed our resources of expertise to the neighbourhood. Often practices around food and music created situations where all of us could affirm multicultural differences and be creative. “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” as Confucius says, “If you have wisdom, no desire, courage, and ability, and if you also observe the rules of propriety and refine yourself through music.” Also “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” and we did as T. S. Elliot mentioned.

Prof. Bernd Kniess

is Professor of Urban Planning / Urban Design at the HCU and since 2008, dean of the master‘s program Urban Design. Together with Michael Koch and Christopher Dell, he initiated the teaching and research project "University of Neighborhoods“ (UdN). After studying of architecture and urbanism in Darmstadt and Berlin he worked as an independent architect since 1995. He was teaching at RWTH Aachen University and the University of Wuppertal and is a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2009.

Benjamin Becker

is a research assistant in the educational and research area of urban design at the HCU Hamburg since 2008 and responsible for the project of the University Neighborhoods (UdN).
He studied architecture in Karlsruhe, Vienna, Delft and Los Angeles. He then worked as an architect in Germany and the Netherlands. In Baden-Württemberg, he completed the Baureferendariat and passed the State Examination. 2005 to 2008 he realized urban development and economic development projects within the framework of German-Malian cooperation (DED) in Mali, West Africa.

Matze, the Barkeeper

I heard from friends before that it's easy to participate in those dinner nights. People come in and they think it is a construction site. It is not just the building, also it is the atmosphere. The Atmosphere in the UdN is: starting every Wednesdays with a bit of chaos, sometimes strong ones, then it becomes very nice, cosy and friendly. There are always new people here, this small community is kind of passing its own borders.

Alessandra Manzini, the Gardener

Hotel Wilhelmsburg is an ambitious project with a great potential to create a place for funny adventures and a vibrant community atmosphere in the Reiherstiegviertel. Bring people and create a guest house with a mixture of private and public spaces, where local and international visitors, travellers, artists and students could meet, interact, socialize, take inspirations and give shape to the space – this is a totally good community design idea. We were harvesting materials, stories, people and personal items to start a process of space appropriation and inclusion of different actors from within the neighbourhood. The people have great power to influence each others perceptions toward the Hotel which means that the project will have to win over their partnership and sympathy. My friend, Marina from the neighbourhood, said: “Hey, this is a great project, would be great if I could bring the idea to Africa and make the same structure out of local resources, such as bamboo.” The Hotel Wilhelmsburg meant also hard work. All the materials where uplifted in different contexts preventing them to directly been recycled, we have been working on the residual life of each piece of wood, iron or stone extending its latent potential usage to create a new quality. As part of the international exhibition, a project that uses up-cycled materials in a place-making process, communicates a strong message to the general public. A touch of artistic craziness is given by the expiration date of the project, that on the other hand could bust a zealous-nut run to give new and more energies of creative volunteers who are already working or are going to start working on the project soon, looking forward to create a place to enjoy during this long special summer in Wilhelmsburg.

Mattia Modi, the Italian Carpenter

Well, when I think back on the UdN building and the workshop experience I can feel, how the moments I had there were somehow suspended in a kind of time which is far away from the normal reality. It was like to live in a bubble where step by step we were discovering how everything is possible. I just felt that the udn building became slowly the home of some of my dreams. In my memories the wilhelmsburg workshops lies together whit the light moments of my youth.

Martin Riga, the Pirate & the DJ

It’s a place, where I explored the people of Wilhelmsburg in a special way. The nice atmosphere, the good food. Especially for me, as I was new to Hamburg, it became a regular slot in my schedule, and it’s a funny mixture between learning/university & having fun/spare time. The biggest value is, in my opinion, the relaxed way of communicating and discussing interesting topics like the changes in the neighbourhood, IBA etc. And of course the Wilhelmsburg Orchestra!

Bernd, the Kitchen Hand

The organisation and how students run the evenings were a little bit chaotic, could be done more easily with some proffesionals’ help. The whole project is different, progressive itself with all the people who have been participting. It seems stressful for most of the students but the commitment and dedication put into the poject are very impressive.

Maja Momic, the Architecture Intern

As an architect, I am interested in Hotel Wilhelmsburg as a tool to test spatial variations, a construction playground, an open experimental setting that enables improvisation and surprising solutions to take place. Moreover, it is a real-life proof that there’s more to architecture than just form and function, by virtue of putting people on the first place: it is made with people and for people. And finally, from my personal point of view, it is a lively place which I’m starting to consider a home, a place where I meet with friends and where I have the opportunity to always meet new interesting people with many diverse backgrounds.

Adrian Judt, Student, Workshops Participant

I have already been participating in a "building" project at the UdN, the "treehouses 2012" IKP seminar in which I was in the management team, now I wanted to engage in a real construction course. As I did not need any credit points I joined for the pure fun of DIY construction in an structural open process. During those workshops the idea of a joined master thesis about the future process of the UdN with another participant was formed.