Sebastian Bührig presents a critique of housing blocks from his research at Leipziger Straße beyond the “dictatorship of lines” and is interested in the “interfaces of communality,” the interpersonal and inbetween (buildings, people, city).

Life in a high-rise is anonymous. That’s the prejudice. The high houses from the outside: upright in file. A strict grid puts their facçade in order. Same shapes again and again. Residential tower blocks obscure the diversity of people, one might say. But if you rest your gaze on the facade, subtle differences emerge. The human is in the detail. Large residential buildings enclose and organize thousands of living spaces. “‘Neighborhood’” is all the more exciting when many different people live in one place. Many people also have many interests. Interests connect people, but it is also the interests that divide them. My research on large residential buildings focuses on the interfaces of communality. It examines where and how various human living environments touch each other in dwelling.

How are belonging to communities and differentiation from others expressed in the architecture of high houses? At the edges of communality, one must be a wide-eyed listener in order to understand differences, contradictions, and common ground – how do you get to the points of contact of human togetherness? In what formats can stories of the side by side, above, below, against and together with each other be told?

Bourdieu, Pierre (1999): Understanding. In: Bourdieu, Pierre; Accardo, Alain; Ferguson, Priscilla Parkhurst (1999): The weight of the world. Social suffering in contemporary society. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, pp. 607 – 626

Sebastian Bührig
Researcher and Author, Urban Design, Hafen City University Hamburg

Sebastian Bührig loves taking walks. The city dweller’s reserve is, in his point of view, one of humanity’s greatest cultural achievements – the wonderful diversity of people can sometimes only be endured in the company of strangers. As PhD candidate at the chairs for urban design and urban sociology at HCU Hamburg, he works on possibilities of scientific and literary descriptions of urban phenomena.

To follow the work of Sebastian Bührig please visit:

Posted in UEL
Posted by:Carolin Genz

Carolin Genz holds a master degree in European Ethnology and Urban Cultures from Humboldt-University of Berlin (2009-2013) and is currently doing research at the Department for Cultural and Social Geography at the Humboldt-University since 2015. Her Ph.D. topic is: "Urban Resistance: Upheaval of Civil Society? Ethnographical perspectives on the transformation of urban everyday life“. Specifically, her research focuses on practices of production and appropriation of space, urban governance and digital tools of urban resistance and network practices. Furthermore, she is an academic consultant and member of the advisory board for Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity for the Senate Department of Housing and Urban Development in Berlin.

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