880 bricks, 21 cubic meters of concrete and wood, and weighing the equivalent of 28 cows – on October 20 lots of people came to wonder at the result. There was a constant coming and going in the brightly decorated rooms, praise could be heard from every angle and the enthusiasm reached new levels when the visitors got a glance of the small kitchen. The level of interest in this special occasion was surprisingly high: the team responsible for creating this meeting space invited interested parties to attend the opening day of this inspiring project on Breitscheidstraße, close to the university’s Stadtmitte campus.
Lots of willing helpers
The flat roofed building has an area of over 100 square meters and was built in just one year. It serves as a meeting place for refugees and Stuttgart residents, encouraging visitors to engage in a dialogue between cultures and functioning as an “extended living room” for the refugee families living in the neighborhood. Financed entirely by donations, lots of volunteers – including students from the University of Stuttgart, the Hochschule für Technik and the Staatlichen Akademie der bildenden Künste – helped with the construction.
Lots of sponsors
“Academic work just got real”, enthused Professor Peter Cheret from the Institute of Building Construction and Design (ibk1) at the University of Stuttgart. He praised the optimistic initiators Tine Teiml and Meike Hammer, who developed the project based on their Master’s thesis, and who never gave up on their idea even when things were tough. Cheret also expressed his gratitude to the many helpers and sponsors, with a nod to the authorities and the university workshops who were also involved, such as the carpenters’ workshop. He jokes, “The point of no return came when the company Züblin agreed on the spot to cast the floor slabs”.
“This place is a gem”, says Gari Pavkovic from Stuttgart’s Department of Integration. He believes that Meike and Tine, who he praised for their incredible drive, have created a prototype that will set a precedent well beyond the city of Stuttgart. Pavkovic says that it is now time to develop a plan of use, stating, “We are looking forward to the next phase.” Organizing a breakfast meeting for women, taking part in sport, meeting German teachers – Fatima Idrees has lots of ideas about how the rooms could be put to use, and the young woman, who arrived from Pakistan two years ago, invites everyone to get involved: “Come and join us!”
Enjoying the new opportunities
Music, dancing and a colorful program for children – the opening day gave a small taste of how easy it can be to meet new people. In their welcoming speeches, Pastor Eberhard Schwarz from the Hospitalhof Forum and representatives of Freundeskreise West und Mitte made it clear just how much they are looking forward to using the meeting space. “We are overwhelmed”, said Tine Teiml and Meike Hammer, astounded by all the impressed guests and their praise of the “little city building block”, whose architecture invites its users to join in conversation and whose construction is intrinsically connected with lots of “extraordinary meetings”.
A social sculpture brought to life
Veronika Kienzle, the district representative for Stuttgart Mitte, has expressed her gratitude for “this gift”, which is intended not only as a meeting space, but as a ‘social sculpture’, where even the dynamic development process contributed to breathing life into the project as a whole. She promises, “We will be there to help make this space a lively and livable one”.
In cooperation with the Institute for Building Construction and Design 1, led by Professor Peter Cheret, and the platform e1nszue1ns, this meeting space is part of the project "Welträume - zwei Häuser", a popular course offered by the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Stuttgart.