Public participation in the Competitive Dialog

The Grasbrook Competition, which started September 2019 and ended April 2020 with the final decision of the Jury, was accompanied by an intensive participatory process that mixed public events and online opportunities and attracted an extraordinarily high degree of public attention. Even before the Competitive Dialog kicked off, neighbors from Veddel, Rothenburgsort, Wilhelmsburg and HafenCity as well as Hamburg’s wider urban society were already invited to become actively involved in the process of generating ideas through four Grasbrook workshops, online participation and outreach surveys.During the competition phase about 2,500 members of the public contributed their suggestions, concerns and valuable local knowledge to the Grasbrook ideas process.

Gathering ideas: the four “Grasbrook Workshops”

June 2018 through February 2019

A public city workshop June 1, 2018 acted as the curtain-raiser to a broad public dialog about the future development of the new Grasbrook district. In preparation for the Competitive Dialog, four “Grasbrook Workshops” with specialists, neighborhood stakeholders and interested residents from the whole of Hamburg took place between December 2018 and February 2019. The workshops began in the Immanuel Church and Café Nova in Veddel. Later events took place in the Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg, the Patriotische Gesellschaft in central Hamburg and the Hamburg Cruise Center in HafenCity.

The topics of Neighborhood and Living, Working and Innovation, Urban Development and Open Spaces plus Sustainability and Mobility were presented with input presentations by experts and then discussed intensively at tables for the respective topics where the different perspectives were explored. Accompanying the workshops was an opportunity to take part in an online participation between November 30, 2018 and February 24, 2019 hosted by

The results (German) of the whole preliminary participatory process were documented, evaluated and fed into the brief for the Competitive Dialog.

Local dialog: neighborhood festivals in Veddel

September 2018 and 2019

A huge aerial photograph on Veddeler Brückenstraße, showing the area in the centre of a major transformation zone between HafenCity, Rothenburgsort, Wilhelmsburg and the port area, was a big attraction for many visitors to the Veddel neighborhood festival September 1–2, 2018. At the invitation of the Stadtteildiakonie Elbinseln (the social and welfare work arm of the Lutheran church) and the Veddel Islamic Congregation, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH took part in the festival with an information stand. There were more than 200 conversation over the two days, and more than 80 people took part in a survey of passersby. The following year this local dialog was continued with information, an updated exhibition and conversations.

Participation in the Competitive Dialog.

September 2019 through April 2020

The Competitive Dialog and, with it, the next phase of the public participation kicked off on September 19 with a second public city workshop. It focused on getting to know the competition entries, talking face-to-face with the designers, making suggestions for further work and providing comments to feed into the evaluation by the jury.

Generously proportioned parks, waterside sport and leisure, new uses for historic buildings and spectacular new roof constructions with space for public meeting areas or creative start-ups below them were just some of the ideas that the 12 planning offices had developed during the first “concept phase” of the Competitive Dialog.

December 2, 2019, the eve of the first jury meeting, in which the number of participants was reduced from 12 to six planning offices, members of the public had the opportunity of a “public viewing” where they could get to know and comment on the first draft concepts by the competition participants. A total of 600 comments were evaluated overnight, focussed by topic and fed into the jury session. There was also an online opportunity to inspect the designs and make suggestions for further processing.

In the second phase of the competition, the “detail phase”, members of the public were invited to a full-day public workshop on January 25. After the extensive personal presentations by the drafting teams, people had the opportunity to make suggestions and give advice on the final drafting of the designs.

On the eve of the second and thus final jury session on April 3, 2020, a large public final presentation of the “finalists” was planned. The coronavirus pandemic intervened and called for corresponding adjustments and innovative solutions.

The planned public final presentation on the eve of the jury session was replaced by a 12-hour online participation. In order to come as close as possible to the original format, each team was allowed to give a comprehensive 20-minute video presentation along with plans (linked). Around 200 comments from interested members of the public were received, evaluated overnight and fed into the jury session.

Download the evaluation of theonline participation here (German):

The all-day jury session the following day was also largely conducted in digital form as a video conference. In the second and final jury session on April 3, the jury, comprising representatives from various specialist disciplines and politics and chaired by Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch (sauerbruchhutton), awarded the following prizes.