LIFE Hamburg by LAVA with Cityplot


LAVA joined forces with urban agricultural collective Cityplot to design LIFE Hamburg, a new figure eightshaped building of three levels that is energy self-sufficient, and brings inside and outside together into one continuous landscape. Based on the educational paradigms of Learnlife (purpose-inspired and personal learning) and American futurist David Thornburg (variety of spatial typologies), a new type of landscape building will reinvent learning for 800 children and 800 adults.

Tobias Wallisser, LAVA director, said: “Variety and diversity are the spatial prerequisites for creative learning. And LAVA’s design enables the optimal conditions: connection to outdoors, integration of green spaces, fresh air and daylight, unobtrusive technical support and flexibility.” “We combined the differentiated learning spaces of Thornburg with our nature-inspired design approach. Instead of homogeneous rooms, there are spaces with different levels of brightness, openness, plantings and connections to the exterior.

Based on Thornburg’s concepts they include expressive spaces (mountain top) for groups; open communicative environments (watering hole) for conversations with peers; hands-on spaces (sandpit) for workshops and manual experiments; group spaces (campfire) meeting areas and lectures; introverted spaces (cave) for individual quiet reflection.” “So kids will enjoy open spaces for active, experiential learning, whilst for teens think caves for concentration.”

The organic-shaped building features a central agora housing core facilities, a food court and sports area and links, via spacious staircases, the two parts of the building. Split-levels and connecting staircases allows flexible uses within the three-dimensional system, both vertically and horizontally. The design is inspired by five elements found in nature: waves, spirals, cells, branches and nests are applied to layouts, structural systems, ceilings and plantings. There are wave-shaped balconies, spiral terrace layouts, branching structural systems, honeycomb ceilings, nesting greenery.

A surrounding second shell of the facade is planted with seasonal greenery balconies, and absorbs CO2. Continuous garden landscapes flow from outside to inside – first to the central agora and then to open terraces and up to the roof top garden featuring edible gardens of herbs, views and outdoor learning in the fresh air. Inside and outside combine to form a unity. Leonie Woidt-Wallisser, founder of Cityplot, added: “We use principles of permaculture and edible landscapes to help shape local built environments.

The opportunities to cultivate organic food will strengthen the role we play in nature’s cycles, right across the generational spectrum”. Added Wallisser: “New spatial typologies combine with innovative social and natural landscapes and self-sufficiency. The open, inventive and sustainable building offers optimal conditions for learning – kids, teens and grannies together”. LAVA won an invited competition earlier this year and has commenced feasibility work, with construction due to be finished in 2023. Source by LAVA with Cityplot.

  • Location: Hamburg, Germany
  • Design: LAVA with Cityplot
  • LAVA architect in charge: Tobias Wallisser, Chris Bosse, Alexander Rieck
  • Team: Laurent Dubuis, Daniele Colombati, Semyon Bondarenko, Iannis Foulakis,
  • Courtney Jones
  • Cityplot: Leonie Woidt-Wallisser
  • Partners: sbp (Schlaich Bergermann & Partner); Transsolar
  • Client: LIFE Hamburg
  • Status: Invited competition 2019; feasibility 2019; construction finished 2023
  • Size: 12,000 m2
  • Image: Courtesy of LAVA

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