08-09/09/16 The Learning City and the University of the Neighbourhoods (UoN). A documentation of making new forms of agencies available.


Our paper consists of three parts. Part one reflects on urban forms of knowledge in the making. From 2007-2013 the research and teaching programme Urban Design ran an experiment in urbanism as part of the International Building Exhibition 2013 Hamburg (IBA). IBA offered monetary resources and a lot with a derelict building. Contracted to return the empty lot to Hamburg’s housing programme, the UoN’s team tackled questions about capacities, superposition, uncertainties, luxury and economy in the residual use of the building. The Learning City served as a »strategic hypothesis« (Lefebvre 2014, p. 7) based on the noticeable tendency that a variety of actors tries to encourage an entrepreneurialism recoupling them with their own relevance in the city. The challenge of such an experiment is to render urban potentialities visible as an end of trajectories towards the strategic hypothesis of the Learning City. Consequently the first part of the paper presents findings from translating the experiment on site into political and administrative arenas articulating agencies beyond well-rehearsed practices of participation in urban development processes.

Part two adresses urban development as a disposition. Through the UoN its team was reporting to, sometimes sitting at the table with and enrolling leaders in urban development processes. Researching into current episodes of urban development the team can emphasize Keller Easterling’s (2014, p. 21) argument that »detecting and developing the active forms that shape disposition is an essential skill of urbanists«. What unfolds opening the mere blackboxes of urban development processes are dispositions comprised of highly complex actor-networks and an aesthetic and political repertoire unfamiliar to most urbanists.
In part three the paper concludes by reassembling insights from part one and two around the motif of designing abilities to transform agencies immanent to objects and organisations more open to the reality of urban processes than any preconceived form of interaction.

Easterling, K., 2014. Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space. London ; New York: Verso.

Lefebvre, H., 2014. Die Revolution der Städte: La Revolution urbaine. Hamburg: CEP Europäische Verlagsanstalt.


Abstract submitted to the conference Government and Housing in a Time of Crisis: Policy, Planning, Design and Delivery. Housing-Critical Futures 5. Liverpool, 08-09th September 2016 by Dominique Peck, Bernd Kniess, Christopher Dell, Anna Richter. Urban Design, HCU Hamburg

Further Information about the conference can be found HERE.


Prof. Dr. habil. Christopher Dell


Professor, UFoK, OT and RFoP

Prof. Dipl. Ing. Bernd Kniess


Professor, Urban Design

M.Sc. Dominique Peck


Academic Staff, Ph.D. Candidate

Dr. Anna Richter


Post-doctoral Researcher