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SPACE RESEARCH: Participation through art strategies



As artists who deal with the design of forms as well as with the design of social processes, we try to track down opportunities for participation in architectural processes and to find and test new ways to do so. We are convinced that artistic thinking and acting has potential that can be used profitably in systems that are not related to art. The possibility of creating a field of tension from social and artistic activities and the willingness of the city administration of Hanover to dare this experiment motivates us to realize this idea at a school. In order to be able to develop the project as a self-learning model project, we combine experiences that we bring with us from our artistic practice: On the one hand, experiences from architectural projects, from art projects in public space and in social contexts, on the other hand from our open-ended and process-oriented approach, which with ever new enthusiasm is paired to the experiment.



The aim of our spatial research project is to find ways, together with the actors involved, to involve schools in the planning and realization processes of their school architecture. By initiating artistic processes in a targeted manner, we would like to create an “enabling space” in which the energies, potential, resources and skills of all actors can be released and potentiated and fruitful results can arise.



Identifying and coordinating the actors involved in the school renovation is part of the project preparation. With the aim of promoting art and artists, the association ART IG e.V. offered to be the sponsor of the overall project. With the support of the Department of Education and Qualifications of the City of Hanover as part of a development partnership, the Lüneburger Damm elementary school was selected as the project school with the support of the head of culture and education. Thanks to the great openness and curiosity of the headmistress, 320 students, 20 teachers, the secretaries, the caretaker couple, the school assistant, the all-day area and the parents are participating in the project. In the position of client, the building management of LH Hannover and the architects, Akzente Architektur & Landschaft, which they commissioned, are involved in the project right from the start. The socio-spatial partner, the Kulturtreff Roderbruch, has a very important function as a place for public relations, exhibitions and networking with parents and former students. The Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung e.V. (BKJ) supports the project for up to 3 years with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.



In order to make it possible to approach this objective, we regularly ask new questions. Here is a selection:

• How is it possible for pupils to get seriously involved in the restructuring of their school? (open questions - previously only yes - no answer possible)

• How can we use our artistic working methods? 

• What questions are the children interested in?

• Which structures have to be created for a complex participation project – in terms of time, space, communication?

• When can existing communication channels be used and where do new paths have to be created?

• Which limits apply when and to whom?

• How can we involve as many of those involved in school life as possible, including parents and residents of the district?

• How must the sequence and interfaces in the process be designed so that the architects benefit?

• In what form will participation be visible later in and on the building?

• How can the creative and communicative processes be documented?

• Which of the insights gained are project-specific, which can be transferred to other construction projects?

• How far can we go?


In the documentation you will find some answers to the above questions. The limited scope of the publication necessitated a radical selection. But you will find much more – because due to the openness of our work situations, the children's highly creative ideas on unasked questions of artistic space research arose along the way, so to speak.


Andrea von Lüdinghausen and Christiane Oppermann, Hanover 2014

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