Poppenbüttel Prototyp Community Centre

Building a Proposition for Future Activities 2016

On Poppenbütteler Berg a new local community-house will be co-constructed from 2018 on. Our proposal is based on the methodology developed by the various actors involved, enabling participation in the planning, design, implementation, operation and use of the Community Centre in accommodation with dwelling in perspectives.


In September 2016 a prototype was developed and built during a first Summer School in scale 1:1 in order to test proposed activities and modes of futurity. It was assembled with containers serving infrastructural needs such as a kitchen, a meeting-room and sanitary. We call spaces fulfilling these needs hardware architecture. They refer to the purpose of a building and are measured in technical drawings through square meters and other “hard” facts. A second and equally important layer of such a participatory planning, building and activation process is the software architecture. It is the design of actions which enable identification, appropriation and even possible modification of the hardware by its future users and it is “measured” by all the individual and collective stories which take place within and around the hardware. To showcase towards the exterior and to stimulate this software architecture a support structure was designed and built around the containers. Filled with designs of ideas on future users actions, the support structure becomes a performative architectural gesture of a punctured facade, a skin between inside and outside, an interface to communicate the project’s process with the public.

In September 2017 the involved actors followed-up the action-research in a second Summer School. During the workshop the spatial program was developed collectively with participants representing the future users of the Community Centre. During one week we developed our virtual architecture office and worked on an architectural draft in a way that encouraged every participant to find their voice and also the space to be actively involved according to hers/his skills. Although the architectural project was seemingly about the “hardware” of the building, during this phase we focused on questions of cooperation, collectivity and learning. Both the work on and the future Community Centre itself can be therefore defined as an action- research prototype or a living laboratory around the central questions: While individually stemming from such diverse cultural backgrounds, how are we able to live together in a long-term perspective? What are the spaces and processes which allow for multiple encounters and exchanges to take place, between different cultures, ages, genders, expectations, skills, needs and life trajectories? Which might be the relational and affective foundations of the Community Centre, which is the immaterial cement which ties a group of neighbours together?

Image Credits: Constructlab, Daniel Wolcke