Photos: Paul Maciol
As initiators of the PLATZ project we were asked by the culture center “Pavillion” Hannover in 2017 whether we could build a temporary "old people's home" in the city centre for their project "Blaue Zone - alt werden und so", which would serve as a workshop and event space. We gladly accepted the order and decided to offer a workshop format on the topic of "Living in old age".
We also designed the construction site for the camp in a participatory way and invited the pensioners who had registered for the camp to do the work directly by hand. Together with our friends from Kratafajan - an architectural collective from Innsbruck - and everyone who wanted to, we built up the camp within a week. Eight people had registered in advance for the workshop we offered. When the time came, 80 came.
We were not only overwhelmed by the number of participants, but also by the urgency of this topic and the very real fears and problems of the seniors. After a short consideration we decided to throw our original workshop concept overboard. A bit of input with best practice examples and joint design in co-creation simply didn't seem sufficient anymore. Many of the participants were already disappointed and skeptical anyway, because they had already attended countless workshops and events before, without any result that would have helped them further.
Instead, we helped the seniors set up a self-organized lobby that could represent their interests on a political stage.
Within two weeks the group - consisting of people who didn't know each other before - wrote a manifesto with ten theses, which they presented on the last day to a member of the Bundestag, whom we had invited to the camp extra and unscheduled. Although the group had never done anything like this before and was really mad at us in between because of the excessive demands, they gave a grandiose presentation on this day and were able to win the politician over.
Furthermore, during the workshop they developed a vision for a multi-generation housing project, which they then presented via Skype to the managing director of a large foundation - who skyped, who remains...the first stone is laid and in the near future some of the group will actually form a flat-sharing community.
In addition also the fighting spirit and the self-empowerment from the Workshop continued to carry itself. The group meets also further every 14 days and became the self-organized lobby for livable living in the age in Hanover.