Our Mother Playground: Container University

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cropped-P1120553Our Humboldt Journey is not the only adventure of our alma mater Zeppelin University which involves industrial containers. Our temporary campus, Container University, is built (almost) entirely out of containers! Whereas our project in Cape Town incorporates just one container, the Container Uni is composed of 160. These are transformed into five buildings that offer seminar rooms, offices, a cafeteria and, most importantly, the self-organized Open Test House. For the next four years students and staff of Zeppelin Uni will enjoy the opportunities and challenges of this interim situation, guided by the slogan: “Make use of the provisional solution – and ensure that everybody will beweep the makeshift situation in four years time”.

The doors of Container Uni officially opened in January 2013. This was the result of a planning process that began much earlier and did not exactly take a conventional path. In mid 2011 the artists Margit Czenki and Christoph Schäfer initiated a planning process that was open to everybody from the start. Students, artists and staff joined and developed plans on equal footing. Ideas were discussed without economic or bureaucratic boundaries in mind and, over time, were merged into a realistic concept for the new campus. It resulted in the so-called inserts, which are objects that transcend the spatial logic of academic bureaucracy and enable leisure, fun or inspiration, and the Open Test House, which is completely run by students – just to name two of the main features.

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All of this was made possible by the motivation and creativity of the participants mixed with the flexibility of containers and the spirit of provision. It led to a campus that connects art, academia, urban planning and architecture. The permanent provision of Container Uni remains an unfinished project and thus continues to demand participation on various ends.

Having experienced what can be achieved with participative planning, flexibility and open-minded thinking, we hope to pass on the spirit of Container Uni with our Humboldt Journey. And who knows, perhaps some day it will be one of the disassembled containers of Container Uni that will embark on a future Humboldt Journey.

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