»A university of design needs to keep reinventing itself«

Angela Dorn
Hessen State Minister of Higher Education and the Arts from 2019 to 2024

A university, especially one for design, is brought to life when it creates space for new ideas and questions. In research, teaching, art and culture, we deal with our history and our future; here we weigh up the right values, goals, and identities. The transformation to greater sustainability, global justice, and a good life: These are tasks for society as a whole, and science and art as well as creativity and design can contribute a great deal to tackling them. When design addresses human, social, and cultural needs, it can reveal attractive alternatives to seemingly inevitable developments, create innovative products, services, and systems, and prompt debate within society. To do all this, a university of design must keep reinventing itself, setting out on a new path – and the HfG Offenbach University of Art and Design is daring to embark on just such a journey.

Driven, on the one hand, by the need for space: The existing buildings have long since become too small given the HfG’s growth. Additional rooms have had to be rented, which is beneficial neither for the unity of the university, nor for joint teaching, learning, and research. The existing buildings are also no longer entirely suitable for the requirements of a modern school of art and design.

Thanks to the funds provided by the State of Hessen, the HfG is not moving into just any functional building, but into a new building purpose- designed build specially for it. The design, with its central campus, combines openness and cohesion. A line of vision to the Main River leads into the campus and connects the heart of the university with the city. We also made sure, of course, that the design meets all modern requirements of sustainability and energy efficiency. And a diverse and sustainable district like Offenbach Harbor is a great location.

At the same time, though, the HfG also sees the change in premises as an opportunity to have a broad, open debate about its future, about topics such as sustainability and diversity, mobility, and more modern structures for studying and research. It’s a very exciting process, as it’s a problem all universities face: How can they continue to develop in such a way that they provide the best possible conditions for all bright and creative minds? So that they can help them to harness their potential, regardless of whether they come from a family where the shelves hold books or a Playstation, whether their parents went to university or not, how long they have lived in Germany, whether they have a disability, whether they have chosen further and higher education over vocational training?

The new HfG at the new campus will be a place of teaching, research, and experimentation, of production, reflection, and discourse, of mediation and reception. The new building will offer the architectural framework so that teachers and researchers, students and creatives, and anyone else on campus can make their own crucial contribution to ensuring our society remains colorful, lively, creative, intelligent, and thus fit for the future.