Creative Businesses

Five ideas from Hamburg for tomorrow's "Resilient Cities"

5 August 2022
Students and companies in "Cross Innovation Class" develop concepts

Students in the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft's Cross Innovation Class 2022 have developed five prototypes to help resilient cities deal with pandemics, weather extremes, growing mounds of waste and a shortage of skilled labour in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner. Computer science, design, urban planning and information students at the University of Applied Sciences Wedel, the Academy of Fashion & Design (AMD) and HafenCity University Hamburg had teamed up with companies all over the city to come up with these novel approaches to contemporary problems.


Greening dustbins 

Six students scooped the audience award after joining forces with the Hamburg Institute for Innovation, Climate Protection and Circular Economy (HIICE), a subsidiary of Stadtreinigung Hamburg, to find solutions to climate-related overheating in housing estates. Concrete buildings store heat and raise the temperature in the city during dry summers. The young scientists developed prototypes of green concrete enclosures for dustbins and inner courtyards to make cities more resilient. A mix of indoor heat and rainwater outside creates a micro climate in which plants grow alone and cool down.


Greening dustbins and facades has cooling effect

Chip and "buddy system" to counter lack of skilled labour

Meanwhile, students who had teamed up with Hamburg Marketing, came up with a brand new means of recruiting. Their efforts resulted in the prototype of a key ring that changes colour and which is gifted to new staff. The key ring has a chip that links up newcomers to an app, which puts them in touch with professionals in other occupations. These professionals then draw their attention to exciting employers and projects, invite them to meetings or to go on company tours thereby boosting exchange. Hopes are now high that the so-called "buddy" scheme will have a positive impact on the ongoing shortage of skilled labour. Talks on implementing the idea in other companies are already underway.


Talent scouting and networking newcomers with professionals

Using rainwater

More and more cities are experiencing prolonged drought interrupted by extreme weather such as heavy rainfall. That puts a strain on wastewater systems, which have not been designed for such water masses. Students and drainage engineers at ACO had developed a digitally-controlled reservoir that diverts the water after treatment, cleans it and returns it to a publicly accessible tap. Residents can check the location of the dispensers on an app and use the water to water plants. The water storage tanks can be installed above or below ground. A prototype is to be presented in autumn. The idea has earned the ACO team this year's Cross Innovation Class prize.


Winning ACO team at Cross Innovation Class 2022

Gamification and litter prevention

Students and municipal authorities in Frankfurt hit on the idea of a points system and glowing dustbins to combat littering in parks and green spaces after parties in the summer and at weekends. The novel bins light up as soon as trash is thrown into them. An integrated deposit ring lights up as soon as it notices empty bottles and cans. Both the bin and the deposit ring light up brightly and send light signals to all other bins in the vicinity as a gamification effect. Those scouring for empties learn where they can find other bottles and cans and do not have to reach into the dirty bins.



Concealed prototype of intelligent dustbin

New approach to public participation

Citizens can present their ideas for sustainable urban development in the Wald Stadt Labor Iserlohn. Emphasis is on digital transformation and should allow the city to push ahead with projects thereby boosting citizen participation and making the smart city tangible. Students had co-operated with staff of the Forest City Laboratory and developed a 3D map of the city with information about the tree population and the state of nature in the region. Sensory information can be used to find paths through the city and to obtain information about various places and sights.



Intelligent 3D map of city by Wald Stadt Labor Iserlohn

Sources and further information

Cross Innovation Class

The Hamburger Kreativ Gesellschaft has held its annual Cross Innovation Class since 2018 to allow students try out their ideas. Every year from March, students at HafenCity University Hamburg, the University of Applied Sciences Wedel and the Academy of Fashion and Design are given the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary groups and develop tangible solutions for the cities of tomorrow. Based on issues in commerce, administration and politics, young students in computer science, design, urban planning and information develop prototypes with companies for one semester. The next Cross Innovation Class is scheduled for 2022/23.



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