The original design of the Elbtower building in Hamburg was advertised as particularly sustainable due to the choice of its technologies. However, the insolvency of the developer Signa at the end of 2023 brought the construction of the unfinished tower, which was to become Hamburg's tallest landmark, to a standstill. The city was left with a huge concrete shell that now towers over the harbor. The costs of securing the construction site of the empty shell have to be borne by the public. This semester we are therefore asking: Can there be "sustainable" design and construction in an unsustainable system? Can we imagine other rules for the development of this building? Can we redesign these huge landmarks so that they do not stand for investor dreams and power, but for added value for urban society and cohesion?

This semester is all about the redesign of the Elbtower. We are starting with the awareness that building in times of man-made climate change not only means using sustainable technologies, but also questioning the power and domination relationships that architecture like the Elbtower is supposed to radiate. The building is to be redesigned so that the space is distributed, used and managed with equality and collaboration in mind.

For the first task, the entire studio group will work as a team: together we want to imagine how the tower could be managed differently and cartographically develop a financial and organizational management system that aims to imagine a democratic use of the tower. Who will own the tower? Can the ownership be collective? How will the takeover be financed? What legal system is needed? Who will then run the tower? One focus will be the use of infrastructures such as ventilation, heating, water supply and electricity as a common resource around which democratic processes between different users will be organized. In short, we want to develop a management system that can serve as a model for a city of a socially just future.

The second task is worked on in groups of two to three students, depending on the size of the studio. It consists of designing an alternative concept, an alternative façade and redesigning the floor plans of the building (or part of the building). Hybrid uses such as residential, office and public services can be integrated. All design work will be carried out within the existing building structure of the Elbtower, with the aim of redesigning the architecture of the building in such a way that the structure plays a completely different role in the city than its original concept.

The research studio "RUINOUS ECONOMIC CONDITIONS" is a mandatory part of the studio.

On April 25, the studio will take the form of a one-day study trip to the Elbtower in Hamburg. Participation is compulsory for all students.