metroZones – School for Urban Action, 2015-2016, Hamburg/Berlin

Copyright: Christoph Schäfer

metroZones – School for Urban Action, 2015-2016, Hamburg/Berlin


The School for Urban Action was initiated as a cooperation between the Berlin-based group metroZones – Center for Urban Affairs and the Hamburg-based NGO dock Europe. Over a period of two years (2015-2016), a wide range of actors within the urban field, activists and other urban citizens met in Berlin und Hamburg to discuss, and put into practice, a number of conceptual ideas and methodological tools from critical urban studies for the purpose of urban explorations and interventions beyond academia.

The school actively oriented itself towards those urban dwellers and activists who were curious to think about urban practices in dialogue, to learn from one another in order to connect various urban skills, experiences and expertise. Understanding the city as a cosmopolis, made up of people arriving from very different global contexts, we asked ourselves how to negotiate spaces of acting and belonging.

For six months, the co-researchers and participants of the School met continuously at events such as public lectures, reading circles and discussion ‘salons’, practical workshops and a four-day summer camp. In a series of weekend-long workshops, the participants investigated urban peripheries in Berlin and Hamburg, discussed with experts and residents and experimented with instruments such as photography, drawing, mapping. The combination of theoretical and practical approaches, as well as methodological tools, exercises and performative enactments in public space, produced various formats and situations for collective reflection on urban experiences and practices. The questions and discussions revolved around issues of the production and configuration of urban spaces on different scales: the effect of collective perceptions and actions on everyday life as well as the invention of strategies and tactics as modes of (urban) citizenship.


Researchers: Anne Huffschmid, Stephan Lanz and Kathrin Wildner from metroZones, Petra Barz and Meike Bergmann from dock europe

Co-researchers: Further metroZones members, urban experts and activists

Participants: Visitors, discussants at public presentations

Cooperation: dock europe e.V., Hamburg, Z/KU (Center for Art and Urbanism), Berlin; Honigfabrik, Hamburg; Aquarium, Berlin.

Formats: Laboratory Series, Try-out Institution

The project was financed as a model project by the German federal institution Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung