The U!REKA Lab: Urban Commons is an international and interdisciplinary teaching and research project of the U!REKA partner universities in Amsterdam, Ghent, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Lisbon and Ostrava that since 2019 has been focusing intensively on urban commons in theory and practice. In the innovative blended-learning environment, students and teachers investigate different commons initiatives in cities such as collaborative housing projects, energy collectives, self-managed cultural projects, community kitchens and urban gardening initiatives. We are convinced that the practice of commons as an alternative form of „governance from below“ can contribute to the more participatory, social and sustainable design of our cities – and an important contribution towards a more international, sustainable, challenge-oriented and contemporary higher education. To this end, we organize the U!R Commons Lectures, Exhibitions, Summer Schools (Frankfurt 2021) & Erasmus BIPs (Helsinki 2022, Ostrava 2023) and the teaching platform: urcommons.eu

At Frankfurt UAS, the U!REKA Lab: Urban Commons is embedded in the teaching of the MA „Sustainable Structures“, Architecture, Geomatics, Civil Engineering (Angelika Plümmer) and the MA „Performative Arts in Social Fields“, Social Work & Health (Raul Gschrey). Funded by the Federal Ministry of Science and Education, DAAD and U!REKA Universities, supported by DigLL: Digitally Supported Teaching and Learning in Hesse. The seminars received an award by the Hessian University Award for Excellence in Teaching 2022.

Does documentary film represent people or trap them in our preconceptions and prejudices? How can fiction and fabulation allow for alternative, empowering narratives? How can stakeholders work with filmmakers to create participatory documentaries?

Dok.Urban explores the theoretical and practical aspects of representation in documentary and ethnographic film and its hybrids: Docufictions, Docudramas and Mockumentaries. The BA and MA students of the universities use documentary film production, as a form of experimental critical narration and speculative fiction, to explore their habitat together with urban protagonists. The films have been shown at the Open House of Cultures 2019, the Biennale of the Moving Image 2020, and AtelierFrankfurt 2022.

Dok.Urban is a teaching research project by Igor Karim (Theater, Film & Media Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt) and Raul Gschrey (Culture & Media, Social Work and Health, Frankfurt UAS) with the support of the Hessian Film and Media Academy (hFMA).

The teaching-practice project WASTELAND was dedicated to the question of how we deal with resources and how a common ground in a community can be found. Students of architecture and social work spent a semester looking at the resources in mountains of bulky waste from new perspectives. Building ideas were developed and in a final workshop in the Nordweststadt in Frankfurt, new objects were created together with the residents of the settlement. In January 2023, the project was concluded with an exhibition in the Tassilo-Sittmann-Haus in the Nordweststadt and a publication.

WASTELAND is an interdisciplinary teaching project of the departments of Architecture, Geomatics, Civil Engineering (Natalie Heger & Ruth Schlögl) and Social Work & Health (Raul Gschrey) of Frankfurt UAS from the year 2021-2023, which was awarded the Hans Sauer Prize.

The Lab: Co-Creativity in Social Arts connects students and teachers from universities and study programs that work at the intersection of the Arts and the Social: Napier Edinburgh, Minerva Art Academy – Hanze UAS Groningen, Metropolia Helsinki, School of Dance – IPL Lisbon & Frankfurt UAS. The inherently multidisciplinary exchange is developed in relation to artistic and cultural production, but also social structures and institutions, such as places of social work, education, health, and rehabilitation. The focus on „Co-Creativity“ is aimed at fostering the development and transfer of current participatory methods of social artistic production, of artistic-ethnographic research and cultural education work into (urban) society – and the prospective work-places of our graduates.

The Lab offers the chance to work together internationally on co-creative, participatory strategies, on socio-artistic methods, on fundamental concepts and theories, as well as on our professional self-understanding. The practical implementation of the international collaboration will include student exchanges, staff mobilities, common online and blended courses, excursions and work-place visits, as well as intensive exchange projects and co-creation environments, such as summer schools. In autumn 2023 the Blended Intensive Program [COMMON GROUND] will take place in Frankfurt.

What supposed to happen to the former law faculty of Goethe University in Frankfurt-Bockenheim? This is a question to which the state of Hesse and the city of Frankfurt have been unable to find a suitable answer for twelve years. For a long time, demolition and new construction seemed to be the only way; a sustainable solution, on the other hand, would be reconstruction. Students at Frankfurt UAS took this up in their work on plans for the building’s future. As part of an interdisciplinary course, they developed short films, models, plans and mapping for the possible further use of the much-discussed building in the west of Frankfurt.

A teaching-research project of the FB Architecture, Civil Engineering, Geomatics (Florian Mähl, Paola Alfaro d’Alençon) and the FB Social Work and Health (Raul Gschrey) with the support of the Research Laboratory Postwar Modernism (Ruth Schlögl), the City of Frankfurt/City Planning Office, the architecture firm schneider+schumacher, the German Architecture Museum (DAM), and the Initiative Offenes Haus der Kulturen e.V. (OHa!), 2022-2023.

In media workshops with Frankfurt schoolchildren and students from Frankfurt UAS at the jugend-kultur-kirche sankt peter, the focus was on the digital saturation of everyday life and the realities of life for young people in our incresingly digital world. With its focus on digital social spaces, the project takes up central issues of the past German federal reports on children and youth. Cultural (media) education is called upon to address the changing lifeworlds of young people and to promote media and social skills in the digital space.

In the project weeks, students take part in a creative way instead of just passively consuming. They reflect on the potential and risks of media environments and experience self-efficacy. Here, the young people are not „talked about“ but „worked with“ – their fears, wishes and hopes are taken seriously and presented in exhibitions.

for real? – Jugendliche digitale Welten (2020)

alles vernetzt – Unser Leben in digitalen Zeiten (2018 & 2019)

digital friends? – Freundschaft im digitalen Zeitalter (2017)