«The actual achievement of the city happens elsewhere. Where the diversity of life produces ruptures and problems.»

«Such neighbourhoods do the main integration work for a city.»*

Whereas the media celebrates the Elbphilharmonie as a world architectural achievement, in this SZ article, Thomas Hahn visits Steilshoop in the Hamburg Wandsbek district. Parts of Steilshoop were conceived as reformist estates and built in 1969, but declined and socially disintegrated after a few years. Its negative image was tenacious, even when the city took initiative to revalorise the district and invest in social projects in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the neighbourhood has developed an ability to draw strenght from the daily struggle for the weaker members of society, or, as says Pastor Sönke Ullrich, “we in Steilshoop live in the future”.

(The SZ article is in German)


Ignaz Strebel is an urban geographer and senior scientist at the University of Lausanne. His research is on the social and material practices that make up and transform urban systems. Using ethnography and audio-visual projects, he currently researches building care work, energy infrastructure services and the transformation capacities of prefabricated buildings.

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