Especially in their final years, students can learn the most when they are taken outside of their now-engrained comfort zones. This is why I eagerly accepted the invitation of the TU Delft to co-teach an interdisciplinary design studio in Hamburg to a mixture of architecture and urbanism students. For two years, I served as the urbanist professor, joining an architecture professor to challenge teams of fifteen to twenty students to rethink the role of their profession in the urban continuum. Our studio focused on the connection between Hamburg Hauptbahnhof – one of Europe’s largest railway stations – and the newly developed Hafencity. The current area is dominated by cars, cutting off a pedestrian route between Germany’s largest train station and its largest urban redevelopment. The area has a tremendous potential for higher-density and higher-quality redevelopment, which was the brief for this studio project.
With four or more years of education under their belt, students tended to approach this brief from their own disciplinary angle. Architecture students tended to focus on singular objects, quickly losing track of their interconnection; urbanists shied away from physical design to focus on systems instead. This studio customized the assignment to each student, challenging them to see the other side of the disciplinary divide. The outcomes of the work were highly encouraging, especially when students would join forces to design multiple sites in a common urban vision. As much as students learned from the professors, they learned from each other’s unique approaches to this complex project.
Rendering of new southern entrance to Hamburg Hbf by Egidijus Kasakaitis.
Overview of Hamburg urban systems by Hrvoje Šmidihen