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New European Bauhaus Prizes 2024

Prioritising the places and people that need it the most

TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB: Tackling social, economical & ecological challenges together.
Berlin's TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB, situated on Teufelsberg Hill, pioneers a shift from conventional policymaking to collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches. By employing Design Thinking, it promotes trust, dialogue, and participatory democracy among activists, policymakers, and experts. Breaking free from political bubbles, the lab aspires to evolve into a fully functional policy transformation hub, fostering collective problem-solving and advancing progressive policy development.
EU Member State, Western Balkans or Ukraine
It addresses urban-rural linkages
It refers to other types of transformations (soft investment)
Early concept
As an individual partnership with other persons/organisation(s)

Nestled atop Berlin's Teufelsberg hill, the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB is an open-ended participatory process that facilitates the creation of a collaborative transformation lab for policies and other transformative practices. Departing from conventional methods that often sideline civil society, this lab champions inclusivity, bridging gaps between activists, policymakers, and scientific experts. In the face of eroding public trust in democratic processes and growing societal divisions, the lab stands as a beacon of hope, fostering collaboration and a shared vision among stakeholders. Amidst the discursive and political bubbles that typically constrain political debates and the disciplinary silos hindering interdisciplinary collaboration, our project serves as a vital antidote.

From March to August 2023, our Design Thinking project, backed by institutions like HPI SCHOOL OF DESIGN THINKING and HERTIE SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE Berlin, materialized a prototype. In collaboration with activists, decision makers, and experts from Berlin Brandenburg, we explored reimagining policymaking as an inclusive process. The outcomes, encapsulated in the “Wall of Transformation,” empowered participants to voice diverse perspectives, forging connections amidst differences. To amplify our impact, we created an immersive audio walk, transforming Teufelsberg's history into a narrative of hope and participatory democracy.

Moving forward, our focus lies in expanding our network, ensuring regular co-designing sessions, and evolving the “Wall of Transformation” as a dynamic testament to collective insights, all aimed at sustaining the momentum of this transformative endeavour. We hope that the processes we initiate and facilitate will ultimately grow into the form of a policy transformation lab of the future.
Transformative Design
Inclusive Democracy
Participatory Lab
1) ENSURING LONG-LASTING RELEVANCE: Our sustainability goal is to establish an enduringly relevant space, achieved through active public participation in the lab's creation. We want to keep the space responsive to the pressing issues of our times. Grounded in a bottom-up methodology, we prioritize community input to ensure alignment with their long-term goals. Our interdisciplinary problem-solving and engagement with multiple stakeholders distinguish us, fostering organic growth and resilience. This approach positions our concept as a model of sustainability in action.
2) CIRCULAR ARCHITECTURE MODEL: Teufelsberg is considered an island in proximity to the city of Berlin yet embedded in nature. It works as an independent, self-sustaining, and closed ecosystem within itself. This marks the opportunity to create and test circular models in energy production and consumption, water management, and structure upcycling. Working closely with °PHA ARCHITEKTEN BDA we want to create a transformable space structure, which can evolve with the needs of the people who use the space as well as the surrounding nature. In particular, the Grunewald Forest. This collaboration helps assess feasibility and implementation of innovative ideas.
3) SHARING INSTEAD OF MONOPOLISING KNOWLEDGE: We embrace the importance of sharing knowledge as a cornerstone of sustainability. Our commitment to this fosters multidisciplinary collaboration, enabling the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB to engage with local, European and global communities. Our commitment ensures widespread access to accumulated knowledge, benefiting diverse audiences. By sharing our experiences, challenges, and successes, we aim to inspire and empower other transformative initiatives. Our vision is to create a network of like-minded people and projects that collectively contribute to a more interconnected world. Our dedication to open knowledge sharing exemplifies the value of collective learning in achieving sustainable goals.
1) FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION: Our approach seamlessly integrates each process element with the environment, upcycling the former spy station into a visually appealing and purpose-driven space. Adhering to this philosophy, we create a timeless and functional environment that harmoniously coexists with nature and community, telling a historical narrative of transformation.
2) COLLECTIVE FEELING OF HOPE AND BELONGING: Our core objective is to instil a sense of belonging within the community. "Co-Design Sessions" and public art installations unite diverse stakeholders, fostering hope and unity. Participants have echoed the desire for this space to be a hub of knowledge sharing, togetherness, and an example of collective transformation, making it a space for all.
3) FROM LOST SPACE TO COLLECTIVE TRANSFORMATION: Addressing the challenge of repurposing a "long-lost" space, our concept transforms it into a thriving community hub. By blending old and new elements, including historic landmark ruins, we create a symbolic representation of collective transformation. This interplay between history and renewal adds depth to the cultural experience, inspiring collaborators in the lab's design process.
4) COEXISTENCE OF DESTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION: Our design incorporates the coexistence of destruction and reconstruction. Preserving dilapidated structures as cultural artefacts showcases past scars alongside newly built spaces. This interplay between history and contemporary honors the past while embracing the future.
5) EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATION: Our immersive concept allows people to feel and witness transformation firsthand. With this, we aim to attract public actors and give them security and an incentive to accept everlasting change by making transformation tangible, inclusive and participatory. We created an environment where residents and visitors alike can engage with the concept of transformation first-hand, embracing lasting change as a continuous and enriching process.
1) FROM TOP-DOWN TO BOTTOM-UP: Our concept places an emphasis on shifting from a top-down approach to a bottom-up model, giving voice to those often marginalised. The lab actively seeks input from individuals and communities on the fringes, valuing their perspectives and experiences. Our goal is to include the voices of marginalised groups and let them shape our project.
2) PARTICIPATORY PAST CLASS DIVIDE: Inclusivity is fundamental. We've established accessible formats for all socio-economic backgrounds, offering low-cost or free access to meetings, events, and workshops, eradicating financial barriers to participation.
3) PARTICIPATORY PROCESS-DESIGN: Participation extends to the very core of our design process of the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB. The community is not just a passive recipient but an active participant in the design process, it plays a central role in shaping the physical space and defining the topics addressed. This participatory design – we call it co-design – ensures that the space is reflective of the community's needs, fostering a sense of ownership and belonging.
4) LOCAL ACCESSIBILITY: Prioritizing simplicity and accessibility, our design includes clear signage, wheelchair-accessible pathways, and user-friendly digital resources. Implementing an exclusive use of electric vehicles in public transport enhances accessibility and ecological sustainability.
5) CREATION OF AN ECOSYSTEM: Inclusivity goes beyond individuals; it extends to building diverse multi-stakeholder ecosystems. We actively engage with a wide array of stakeholders, including local government, non-profits, educational institutions, businesses, and community organisations. This diversity creates an adaptable, inclusive and resilient network that ensures a broad range of perspectives are considered in decision-making. This makes the lab an inspiring microcosm of a harmonious and connected society.
The TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB diverges from traditional top-down approaches by actively involving citizens and civil society throughout the process.

1) BUILDING ON THE IDEAS OF OTHERS: Today, collaboration instead of competition is needed more than ever. Building on the ideas of others. From creation to co-creation. We call this co-design. In multiple "Co-Design Sessions", we invited both stakeholders of the site and citizens, scientists and policymakers to set the direction for a transformation lab for everyone. These sessions, held against the backdrop of Teufelsberg's windows overlooking Grunewald forest, set the course for an inclusive transformation lab.
2) NOT ONLY FOR THE PEOPLE BUT WITH THE PEOPLE: Prioritizing engagement, the lab conducted extensive interviews with local policymakers, scientists, activists, artists, and citizens, acknowledging the artists' profound connection to Teufelsberg. Over the past years, artists have been using the structures of the former spy station as a canvas, creating one of the largest street art galleries worldwide. Their voices and perspectives were crucial to us, as they are almost residing at Teufelsberg, knowing every corner of the site. By integrating their insights into the lab's fabric, the project gained depth and resonance, reflecting a strong community interest.
3) FROM SECRETS TO SOURCES. THE IMPACT SO FAR: Departing from secretive policy transformations, the lab creates tangible artifacts from every idea and concept generated. Each session, thought, idea, concept developed here is turned into an artefact. These artefacts serve as a physical trace of ideas, so others can build up on that and be inspired. We tested this on a “Wall Of Transformation” (a publicly accessible bulletin board) and an audio walk prototype right at Teufelsberg. As mentioned earlier, this ensures the intellectual accessibility and inclusion to ideas, concepts and lastly to transformation.
Teufelsberg and the structures of the former spy station is an anchor in the local engagement itself. It inspires to build something with an entirely new participatory approach that includes people, organizations, politics, and nature.

1) LOCAL FOCUS: Engaging local, regional, and European entities is paramount. Interviews with Teufelsberg's street artists and plans for collaborative exhibitions showcased a commitment to inclusivity. Their voices were integrated into sessions and an audio walk, enriching citizen participation and fostering inclusivity.
2) STRONG REGIONAL STAKEHOLDERS: Being more than just a regional development is a key ambition of ours. Therefore, we include nature and the environment itself as one of many crucial stakeholders. We are engaged with °PHA ARCHITEKTEN BDA who bring in their expertise and will power to implement a basic infrastructure which highly respects the regional environment (such as the forest and its ecosystem, vegetation in the region, and the remoteness of the region itself): The implementation of an inspiring circular infrastructure.
Partnerships with the HASSO-PLATTNER INSTITUTE and POTSDAM’S MINISTRY OF FINANCE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS expand the project's reach, connecting academia and politics.
3) NATIONAL-EUROPEAN ENGAGEMENT: The TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB bridges local to global levels, fostering a feedback loop between various stakeholders like the HASSO-PLATTNER INSTITUTE and BERLIN'S MINISTRY OF FINANCE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS. This inclusive approach provides a tangible space at Teufelsberg, connecting locals to broader national-European networks, ensuring transparent decision-making. Additionally, collaborations with academic institutions like the HERTIE SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE and the DESIGN THINKING GLOBAL ALLIANCE offer vital resources, facilitating innovation and knowledge exchange for all involved parties.
Typically, specialized individuals converge to create projects benefiting their specific domains. At the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB, our approach diverges markedly. Our team embodies multidisciplinarity from the outset, a tapestry woven from diverse academic, personal, and professional backgrounds—ranging from Economic System Transformation to Performing & Visual Arts, Design, Philosophy, and beyond. Extending this ethos, we've intentionally united minds spanning arts, sustainability, policymaking, design, global studies, architecture, and nature itself, acknowledging the often-overlooked voice of the natural world.
These varied representatives—team members, project partners, collaborators, local artists, and the surrounding environment—form the vibrant ecosystem of our lab. Our core mission revolves around deciphering their interactions. We've forged a multidisciplinary team and devised diverse platforms—like "Co-Design Sessions", the “Wall Of Transformation”, and a board game—to foster the lab's participatory evolution and drive transformation, especially in policy development tailored for our present and future, serving all.
Yet, our efforts didn't halt there. By cultivating such spaces and guiding collaborative efforts, we've bolstered our team's resilience and enriched the output with diversity, resilience, and fewer blind spots. Participants commended the opportunity to collaborate across disciplines, uncovering new perspectives. Witnessing enhanced resilience and empathy among individuals dealing with ambiguities, we learned the value of critical camaraderie—where critics inspire each other.
The TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB is not your run-of-the-mill think tank or laboratory. It's a dynamic departure from the traditional approach to addressing societal challenges that often occur behind closed doors, far removed from the public eye. In contrast, this transformation lab is a beacon of inclusivity and experimentation, setting it apart from mainstream actions in this field.
1) PARTICIPATION FIRST: This institution has a remarkable history, one marked by cycles of destruction and rebirth, accumulation, and rebuilding. The TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB draws inspiration from this unique character and extends an open invitation to all, regardless of gender or educational background. It's a hub for knowledge sharing, experimentation, and community-led growth. In the spirit of its historical roots, this lab encourages the building upon the ideas of others. Here, failure is not a setback but a stepping stone, where experimental practices and iterative processes are celebrated.
2) AN OASIS OF COLLABORATION AND INTERDISCIPLINARITY: The TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB is a collaborative and interdisciplinary workspace that thrives on interaction and exchange, bringing together individuals from diverse professional backgrounds and societal groups. Here, the walls between silos fade away, making it a place for real people to engage in transformation design. In stark contrast to the conventional wisdom of many established think tanks, the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB embraces a "Yes, and…" philosophy. It welcomes all ideas and everyone “with open arms”. It's a place where the future is not predicted but co-created through constant adaptation and fluid reshaping. This isn't your typical transformation lab; it's a catalyst for transformative change and true innovation.
This project is founded on the Design Thinking approach, a methodology that champions innovation, collaboration, experimentation, and adaptivity. Design Thinking is not merely a process but a holistic mindset: Placing people and their experiences at the heart of problem-solving.
1) DESIGN THINKING: A PATHWAY TO INNOVATION: Design Thinking revolves around empathising with end-users, understanding their needs and challenges. By approaching problems from a human-centred perspective, it paves the way for innovative solutions that genuinely address these issues. This user-centric approach ensures that our project is not just groundbreaking but also resonates with and benefits its intended audience. During our "Co-Design Sessions" at Teufelsberg we worked closely together with the groups participating.
2) COLLABORATION AS THE CORNERSTONE: Much like the Bauhaus principle of Interdisciplinarity, Design Thinking encourages collaboration across diverse fields, fostering a creative synergy where different disciplines merge to drive innovation. Our extensive interviews with over 20 individuals from varied backgrounds provided valuable insights into policy-making at Teufelsberg.
3) FUNCTIONALITY AND PRACTICALITY: Design Thinking, akin to the Bauhaus principle of Functionalism, emphasizes the blend of form and function in solutions. It prioritises designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional, echoing the maxim "form follows function."
In summary, Design Thinking guides our project, allowing us to approach challenges with empathy, ingenuity, and adaptability. It shares principles with Bauhaus, emphasizing collaboration, functionality, innovation, craftsmanship, and a deep understanding of the social and cultural context. Our project aims to make a lasting and meaningful impact by adhering to these principles.
The conceptual design of the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB can be globally transferred to other places. The principle idea of re-appropriating collective sites and turning them into spaces for democratic, participatory transformation through our framework can be applied to other localities. In our case, we used the highly historical yet abandoned site of Teufelsberg and re-appropriate it as a space for democratic, participatory transformation. Teufelsberg used to be a hunting ground of the Prussian Empire, the building ground for a Nazi facility, a memorial hill made of the rubble from the war and ultimately a spy station during the Cold War. In its more recent history, investors sought to build luxury apartments and other commercially lucrative real estate projects. However, the place itself and, furthermore, a wide array of civil stakeholders (among them environmentalists and artists) defied all of these uses throughout history. We therefore believe that some places intrinsically hold the potential to become sites of lived democracy and hope. A fine attunement to the historical and site-specific conditions of a place are crucial to the replication of our project.
In the face of increasing societal divisions and a lack of clarity on transformation, the TEUFELSBERG TRANSFORMATION LAB addresses various central global challenges. By fostering alignment and providing a local solution and the creation of safer and visionary spaces for policymakers, activists, scientists, and citizens to collaboratively redefine decision-making, reconnect with humanity, nature, and one another. Serving as a beacon of systemic transformation for the local, European and global community towards future-proof societies and economies.
1) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & BRANDING: Promoting through events like festivals and picnics, we'll cultivate a sense of belonging. Online presence on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and a website aims to broaden engagement, fostering a participatory brand creation.
2) TOPIC SELECTION & TESTING: Beyond policy transformation, we'll focus on diverse issues like inclusive mobility and accessible bureaucracy, testing formats and processes in sessions.
3) STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT: Refining session formats ensures active stakeholder involvement, enhancing engagement and effectiveness.
4) ARTEFACT UTILIZATION & NEEDS IDENTIFICATION: Artefacts from "Co-Design Sessions" will identify user infrastructure needs, emphasizing practical problem-solving and innovation.
5) STRATEGIC COLLABORATION & INFRASTRUCTURE: Pitching at events, we'll attract collaborators and investors. A Mobile Showroom expands our reach, while partnerships aid circular infrastructure development using our participatory approach. Simultaneously, we'll continue our collaboration with °PHA ARCHITEKTEN BDA for the development and implementation of the circular infrastructure and technology on site. For this infrastructure development, we will use our participatory approach mentioned above and in the “Implementation Plan”.
With action as our mantra, we'll materialize participatory transformations. Fostering community, refining topics, engaging stakeholders, and pinpointing user needs. Seeking collaborators and investors, we'll develop tangible infrastructure aligned with our process, bridging our vision from concept to prototype for a sustainable, participatory future.
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