Bildungs haus Norderstedt

27 Feb 2019

It is a fine debut for Germany: the first place to house an adult education center, City Archive and City Library under one roof. This place is called The Bildungshaus Norderstedt, a public hotspot that will serve the region in many modern ways. 

Our Haus in the middle of the street

In the German town of Norderstedt, just north of Hamburg in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, the realization of the Bildungshaus is now underway. Bringing together the adult education center Volkshochschule Norderstedt, the City Archive, and the City Library, it will attract numerous citizens from not only the southern part of the town (which is called Garstedt, named after one of the four little villages from which Norderstedt was born), but also from the entire region. The Bildungshaus is located next to a huge shopping center, a subway hub that gets you to downtown Hamburg in a little over 30 minutes, and a secondary school. Mid 2018 the Berlin-based architects Richter Musikowski won the architectural contest with their spectacular design for the building. With a winner and a clear path ahead, interior design can now start to take shape.

Transforming traditions

While the temporary abstract name ‘Bildungshaus’ reflects the somewhat political and administrative origin of the idea – the stakes are high for the Haus itself. No dullness is to be expected here: the Haus aims to become a melting pot of people, experiences, skills, learning processes and information. All these things will gather around a decent cup of coffee at the in-house café, intermingling on the various stairs that connect the split-level architectural design.

Where traditional adult learning centers consist of boring hallways with classrooms, the Haus will be anything but that. Traditional archives are not known to be the most attractive places either and often tend to fade into the invisible. However, the Haus will open up and increase the visibility of the local archive. While a traditional library is a depository for media, the Haus should become a medium itself (as the Danish architect Ivar Moltke would say). Combining these ingredients creates a new, contemporary blend: the Bildungshaus Norderstedt as a welcoming 3rd place for learning, gathering and inspiration for all.

Learning from (potential) users

In order to create this social dock for urban recharging, we teamed up with local partners to help us out. To craft a space where running into the unexpected is business as usual we had to understand its visitors. First, our specially developed card game was set up and played with users and potential users to learn about their needs for activities, facilities and references about how a welcoming place should look and feel. Second, keeping these results in mind, we teamed up with representatives of the Volkshochschule Norderstedt, the City Archive and the Norderstedt Library to develop an interior design that fits the needs of its future users. We did so during our special Workshop Week design method, in collaboration with Julia Bergmann (Design Thinking process), which allows us to work locally with our partners on this special project. We are then truly able to implement the local DNA into our designs.

A sneak preview

The images show the first impressions of this interwoven space consisting of the Volkshochschule Norderstedt, City Archive and Library. No specific singular function stands out. In fact, they all do – and at the same time are subordinate to the people using the Haus. The mezzanine floor provides a glimpse of the workshop week atmosphere. Now, the next step is to process everything into the design phase: one exciting idea under construction. Stay tuned for more updates on this hybrid Haus!

Bildungshaus Norderstedt will be a melting pot of people, experiences, skills, learning processes and information. And coffee!

Aat Vos

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