Sabrina Lindemann

The artist who turned the streets of Transvaal into a hotel...

As an artist and urban curator, Sabrina Lindemann shared her expertise and experiences during the second international workshop. As a founding member and director of the Dutch artist group Optrek, working in the multicultural Transvaal neighbourhood in the Hague, Netherlands. In 2007 she initiated the Hotel Transvaal, which was the largest hotel in the world for a while. The district Transvaal streets became the hotel’s corridors, through which trams and buses were driving, and the residents became the hosts and hostesses. The hotel rooms were not in one building but were spread over the district in buildings condemned for demolition. As soon as these were demolished, the hotel moved on to a new location. The many existing facilities in the neighbourhood, such as restaurants, hairdressers and bakeries also became facilities of the hotel - and the residents themselves crafted the program. 1

With hotel Transvaal’s idea, the initiators wanted to put empty spaces into use again, thus giving the district a socio-cultural and economic impulse. Transvaal came to stand for a vision of restructuring policy at local as well as national levels. The project fills the vacuum in the interim, upgrades it, looks for points of departure to connect the past with the future, and stresses a district's opportunities in transition.

During a three-day workshop, Sabrina Lindemann shared her experiences of interacting with the local neighbourhood of Transvaal, organizing the hotel and interacting with authorities, legal frameworks, and day-to-day necessities, which were crucial for the realization of their project. Harvesting building materials from the neighbourhood in a given radius from the projects gave us inspiration for our hotel’s construction.

How can the future hotel be organized, both internally and externally? As what kind of legal entity can the project in its current development be realized, allowing us to remain flexible, foster participative and non-hierarchical decisions making and maintain its focus on research of ‘living as a practice’? What kind of framework can we develop for the internal organization of the hotel? Equally as important, the question arises as what legal entity the hotel will function, as an e.V., BGR or small corporation? These are the main questions which guided the search for a functioning hotel organization.

  • Sketches produced with Sabrina Lindemann, depicting a possible organisational structure.

  • Sketches produced with Sabrina Lindemann, depicting a possible organisational structure.

To find a legal entity for the future organization of the Hotel, Sabrina Lindemann shared her experiences from the Hotel Transvaal. Additionally, a student who had studied business administration shared his legal knowledge of the considerations which should be taken into account within the German legal framework. Whether in the form of a non-profit organization, or a small business, the registered organization towards which we were striving would have to fulfil the following criteria :

  • Sketches for varying legal entities in German law.

  • Sketches for varying legal entities in German law.

Furthermore, different scenarios for one day in the hotel were developed and played out. How will the reception, restaurant and cleaning be organized?

During the International Workshop #2 different scenarios for the organizational structure were developed. This took place on a theoretical level to consider the internal decision-making processes, e.g. fostering participative forms of decision making which could take place during the weekly Hotel meetings.

Learning from our experience of organizing the Wednesday dinners, we became aware of the importance of having all functional parts of the hotel communicate, such as those concerned with the reception, restaurant or sanitation. Therefore, the hotel's organizational model was designed with a focus of allowing everyone in the hotel team to take part in decision-making and having “jour fixe” times for communicating.

In addition to these theoretical considerations, real application for a non-profit association (in german e.V.) were formulated. This is another point at which hypothetical scenarios developed within the university context were put into real practice.

This caused the issue of liability to the surface. At the point where theoretical considerations and research collided with real-world practice, there came a stalling point. German law provides that to form an association, it is required that one or more persons are held responsible. Who would take the responsibility and be held liable for the programming of the hotel?

  • how much time, how many employees are needed to keep the hotel running?

  • Meeting with experts active in the Hamburg cultural sector such as Tim Kistenmacher.