The Science City of the people

Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld is an urban development project that will combine top international research, university education, lively residential areas and innovative companies to create a new 125-hectare urban space. The development consists of several sub-areas that merge both spatially and in terms of content: a main scientific development area around the “Deutsches Elektronen-Synchroton” (DESY), parts of the University of Hamburg and other renowned institutes, an innovation and technology park and the “Quartiere am Volkspark”, a mixed-use, lively neighborhood with a focus on science and housing.

Since 2021, Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld GmbH has been in dialogue and actively consulted with the neighborhood, institutional stakeholders and other interested parties in the development of the “Quartiere am Volkspark” sub-area. The following is an overview of the events that have already taken place.

Twice a week, there is the opportunity to obtain information on-site at the Science City information center. Tours of the area are offered every Thursday.

Public Participation “Quartiere am Volkspark”

Copyright Urban Catalyst / HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, 2023

The diagram illustrates the long-term development task of Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld and provides an overview of the corresponding participation process, particularly regarding “Quartiere am Volkspark”.

Currently, the competitive dialogue for “Quartiere am Volkspark” is taking place. This was preceded by extensive participation, with the results being incorporated into the brief for the competition.

Information on the participation formats is provided in antichronological order in the following.

Citizen participation accompanying competitive dialogue “Quartiere am Volkspark” – from October 2023

Background: What is a competitive dialogue?

A competitive dialogue is a planning process for dealing with particularly complex issues in urban development. In the planning process for “Quartiere am Volkspark”, planning teams develop ideas for the design of the new neighborhoods. They make proposals on how the various uses, such as parks, streets, social facilities and residential buildings, can be distributed. A panel of experts discusses the planning teams’ designs and decides on the best design for “Quartiere am Volkspark”, which is then taken forward.

The opportunity for dialogue and the involvement of citizens throughout the process is a key advantage of this procedure. Moreover, previous Science City workshops and an online survey that took place in 2021 (see below) already provided valuable suggestions and ideas that were included in the terms of reference for “Quartiere am Volkspark”. The competitive dialogue is accompanied by the strategic involvement of local citizens. Citizen participation is an integral part of the process that provides insights and information, stimulates discussion and ensures the inclusion of local expertise and viewpoints.

The kick-off: Exchange with the planning teams

The public launch was marked by the event on October 7, 2023, at which interested citizens were able to find out more about the Science City project and the competitive dialogue “Quartiere am Volkspark” and engage with the participating planning teams. An important goal of the event was to give the neighborhood the opportunity to get to know the planning teams personally and to support them with their knowledge and information about the area in getting to know and understand the place.

The neighborhood delegation

There are procedural steps in the competitive dialogue that cannot be held as public events. These include, in particular, the meetings of the panel of experts in which the teams’ designs are voted on.

In order to give the neighborhood an insight into the process of the procedure and to enable continuous and intensive support from citizens, an innovative concept of the so-called neighborhood delegation was developed. The delegation provides an opportunity to add a local dimension that is expected to enhance the competitive dialogue “Quartiere am Volkspark”:

Six people from the neighborhood accompany the entire competitive dialogue and advise the panel of experts. As such, they represent local perspectives and concerns in addition to the representatives from administration and politics. The neighborhood delegation has been empowered to fully participate in the process; its members attend the selection meetings and provide comments and advice on specific tasks given to the planning teams. The assessment of the neighborhood delegation is incorporated into the evaluation of the planning teams’ drafts.

Citizen participation before the competitive dialogue “Quartiere am Volkspark” – 2021

Online survey and themed workshops

In preparation for the competitive dialogue, an online survey and three subsequent public workshops were held. Together with locals, revision notes and test assignments for the process were developed.

Relevant topics for revision were discussed and revision notes were formulated. This information was incorporated into the competition brief for the planning offices.

Workshops for children and young people

At the end of October 2021, the focus was on involving children and youth. In two workshops at the Science City Infocenter on Albert-Einstein-Ring, children aged 8 to 12 and young people aged 12 to young adulthood were encouraged to get involved.

The formats took place in cooperation with the Kl!ck Children’s Museum as part of the Altona Diversity Week.

The children’s format involved a playful approach to the topic of urban development. In joint discussions and in creative craft groups, children worked together to develop demands on their environment.

The young people mapped the Science City area in small groups and, with the help of an app (#stadtsache), explored the question of which places could be improved for young people and how.

Just like the findings from the themed workshops and the online survey, the annotations from the children’s and youth workshops were incorporated into the competition brief.

Foundation and continuity

Cooperation agreement

To ensure a close exchange with the district administration, the Altona District Office, the Altona District Assembly and Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld GmbH signed a cooperation agreement in September 2020. The parties involved commit to comprehensive cooperation for the overall Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld project. Among other things, it was agreed to create extensive transparency, exchange information and promote joint opinion-forming and decision-making.

Special committee

As part of the cooperation agreement, the establishment of a special district committee for Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld was agreed. This committee meets monthly as decided by the district assembly. The special committee bundles all issues relating to Science City development at the district policy level and closely monitors the overall process.

It addresses all overarching urban planning issues triggered by Science City Bahrenfeld GmbH and discusses individual planning steps. Members are delegated to the committee from all political parties in the district assembly; representatives of Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld GmbH participate permanently as “knowledgeable persons”.

Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld GmbH regularly reports to the special committee on Science City development topics with sufficient advance notice and comments on current topics at the meetings.

All reports from Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld GmbH and other printed material can be viewed publicly here (currently, only a German version is available).