GTECHer in Germany: Day 5

By: Sara Innamorato

This week, our Director of Operations and Programming is in Germany! Follow Evaine on a wonderful learning opportunity and journey this week.

Screen Shot of Nexthamburg’s website

Demographics and Inclusion

Our final day of programming was really about debriefing what we’ve learned and how we are going to apply it to our work at home. At 6 pm we had one final presentation and discussion with Julian Petrin from Nexthamburg. It was a conversation about demographics, inclusive and participatory planning, and challenges of working in a city that is both growing and shrinking at the same time.

Hamburg’s current population is 1.7 million, but due to the increase in the migration of refugees from countries in conflict, there is an expected 3.2% growth rate.  As a result, Hamburg is planning to add an additional 6000 housing units each year for the next 10 years. City life is becoming more attractive – a pattern of reurbanization is occurring as people want the amenities of city life – transit, public spaces and cultural institutions. As a result, much of the surroundings suburban areas are shrinking, leaving behind an infrastructure too extensive for the remaining population. As additional residents join the urban core, there is an increasing need to take the pulse of the city, understand the needs and wants, and develop a plan that works for the diverse population.

“How do you develop a plan in an inclusive way, to represent each of the many voices in the new city?”

The challenge then becomes: “How do you develop a plan in an inclusive way, to represent each of the many voices in the new city?”

In 2009 Nexthamburg launched in an attempt to answer this question. Nexthamburg is Hamburg citizens’ city lab – independent and open to all who want to shape the future of the city together. They offer a stage for citizens’ ideas, opinions, expectations in order to ensure that they are being heard. Next Hamburg’s editorial team collects ideas, wishes, themes and visions coming during the participatory process. The launch the project using a diverse set participants, including: the editorial teams, citizens, partners and experts. This team a variety of ways to participate and as CEO, Julian Petrin states, “You must go where the people are.” As a result, participants are welcome to post ideas online, mail them in or just stop by the office located in the city center. Additionally, they host workshops at malls, courtyards, and other places where people gather and believe in having a strong online presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

“How do you develop a plan in an inclusive way, to represent each of the many voices in the new city?”

Nexthamburg have identified 3 challenges that the city faces:
  1. managing growth in an also shrinking city as discussed above
  2. managing disparity and polarization between different socio-econmic groups
  3. managing the civic city by having citizens participate in the planning process.


Their goals include:
  1. creating a shift in urban politics: sharing the responsibility of change between grassroots DIY efforts in combination with a political push for programs
  2. establishing the rise of a co-created city: helping citizens develop ideas for the purpose of finding feasible solutions and identify real project ideas to pursue


Nexthamburg was funded as a pilot project of the National Urban Development Policy by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development from 2009 to late 2011. Today, Nexthamburg is financed by private donations from foundations, through projects with other partners in the city. They mission is to transfer knowledge to other NGOs or local authorities. The profits from their activities will be used to secure the participatory dialogue of Next-projects.

In my opinion, it is a fascinating model, both innovative and formulaic, and has allowed the team to scale their model to other cities.


What do you think of the work that is being done by Nexthamburg? How have you played a role in your community’s development. Tell us in the comment section below.

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