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Places for exchange and creativity

The University of Freiburg wants to make underused spaces into “open spaces” and is looking to its members for development ideas

Freiburg, Feb 05, 2020

Places for exchange and creativity

Photo: Harald Neumann

Kitchens, corridors, foyers: All these can be open spaces. Continuous spaces containing various kinds of furniture, areas which can be put to various purposes and which can be turned quickly and easily into an attractive workspace as required. As part of its Connecting Creative Minds strategy, the University of Freiburg seeks to transform more such areas into open spaces in order to support creative work - especially in small groups - and to promote exchange. And because these open spaces are meant to be attractive to all members of the university, the first call for proposals is aimed at a working groups comprised of members from all branches of the university; in a “co-creation program,” staff, students and faculty are to work together to develop a design and utilization plan for new open spaces. Funding of up to 4,000 euros per application is available; the deadline for submission of proposals is 1 March 2020.

A few days ago, it was a dull entrance foyer on the first floor of the Alte Universität; now it radiates atmosphere and coziness - thanks to a lick of paint on the walls and a new two-seater sofa. Photo: Harald Neumann

A few days ago, it was a dull entrance foyer on the first floor of the Alte Universität; now it radiates atmosphere and coziness - thanks to a lick of paint on the walls and a new two-seater sofa. “It has become a place where people meet, where they like to talk and to be,” says initiator Professor Stephan Lengsfeld from the Institute of Economics at the University of Freiburg. Together with doctoral students, administrative and project staff, and two students, he planned and created an open space in a short time and with little effort. “No expensive or complicated reconstruction necessary! A bit of fresh paint, some time and the wish for a shared creative experience, a few plants and some furniture - some of it second-hand - mean that we can now use this space for short meetings or for brainstorming,” he says, adding: “We’ve made a start, and want to further develop this space in the near future.” Places like this are small inspirations in everyday life, places where we can live our creativity, Lengsfeld says. He sees many suitable areas at the university where similar working and meeting areas could arise.

New ideas - an end in themselves

The new call for proposals targets those kinds of places. All university members - students, doctoral students, research assistants, admin staff, service and technical employees, as well as academics are called upon to come up with ideas. The aim is to jointly develop design and utilization concepts for open spaces. “Working groups with at least one member of each university branch are eligible to apply,” says Andreas Friedrich, who as a consultant to the Rector, is coordinating the call for proposals.

The development of new ideas is to be a cooperative effort. “This is a management approach common in innovative companies and start-ups. In workshops, the participants look at a topic from different perspectives, and develop ideas together,” Lengsfeld explains. This round of the program will provide funding for a period of three months for the development of concepts for open spaces. “The first step is to come up with innovative concepts. And when we implement them, the working groups will be involved,” says Friedrich. Funds may be provided for events such as workshops, for bringing in external expertise, for travel or presentations. The maximum amount 4,000 euros per proposal.


Along with formal guidelines such as maximum length, contact details and the naming of each member of the group, the application must indicate the area for which the concept is to be developed - and why it is suitable. “They have to be areas open to all members of the university,” says Friedrich. Groups applying must first check with the Stabstelle Bau- und Entwicklungsplanung to ensure the proposed area is basically suitable as an open space. “Of course, a whole range of specifications, such as fire protection, must be taken into account,” says Friedrich. “But we will use the scope we have, as far as possible, to implement good ideas.”

Applications must also include a detailed list of steps to be taken towards achieving the concept as well as an approximate timetable and information on the funding applied for and how it will be used. Friedrich sums this up by saying: “For a project to be successfully funded, the proposal must detail a design and utilization concept in written and graphic form for a specific open space at the University of Freiburg.” Interested parties may contact him with enquiries; he must receive applications as a PDF file by 1 March 2020. A selection committee, also including representatives from all university branches, will then compare and evaluate the applications and decide which “open spaces” ideas are to become reality.

Judith Burggrabe


Call for proposals usschreibung (German only)

Free spirits in Freiburg – Creative Spaces

Interview with Professor Andrea Kiesel – Space for ideas

Connected Services in the Dialogue Workshop (German only)