»New, international appeal for the HfG in the region and the state«

Prof. Bernd Kracke
President of the HfG Offenbach

With the HafenCampus, we are finally realizing the goal we have been pursuing at HfG Offenbach University of Art and Design for the last year and a half, namely an entirely new building that brings together all the disciplines, studios, workshops, and laboratories for all students and all teachers on one campus for the first time in the history of this institution, and which even includes housing for students. The HafenCampus is undoubtedly a momentous project, which will give the university, the entire Rhine-Main region, and the State of Hessen a huge boost and new, international appeal.

The hfg21 Future Lab (formed from all status groups of the university), which was launched in 2011, held an exciting and intensive process to discuss its own visions as well as best-practice examples with an eye on other international university buildings and urban planning concepts. We tackled forward-looking questions on teaching and research, on the university’s social and political role, but also on the urgent need for a university of art and design to be able to connect in the 21st century: What form does this take in the age of the digital revolution, of entire societal transformation, and given the challenges posed by AI? And what can and should research, teaching, and workshops look like in a place of freedom that has to be both a safe space for the evolution of critical questions and innovative ideas and a laboratory for shaping democratic society with the help of art and design, as well as a publicly accessible institution? Experts were invited, excursions arranged, and an endowed professorship was even created – and ultimately the entire structure of study at the university came under the microscope. From the outset, it was never just about moving from A to B, but rather about redeveloping the HfG on the inside and the outside, which was tantamount to a reset or a reinvention.

Seeing the design by Xaveer de Geyter Architects (XDGA) and Topotek 1 now being realized is a historic moment for the HfG and a very important event for me personally. With the new HafenCampus, everything we have spent a year and a half working towards as the HfG, with the faculty and the students, with the state government and the City of Offenbach as well as the student union, is finally becoming a reality.

The winning design brilliantly meets the requirements of a university in the 21st century by combining the workshop character with maximum architectural openness. It is such a simple yet clever idea to unite the two building plots through the all-encompassing ensemble of buildings and the extensive inner park.

With the awarding of the contract to XDGA and Topotek 1 in late summer 2023, an important milestone has now been reached. I am very excited to see how the planning progresses, but I already have the feeling that the cooperation with the team of architects, the Landesbetrieb Bau und Immobilien Hessen authority (LBIH), and the university as the user is on the right track.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the protagonists and those who have supported us in the university (students, teachers, and administrative staff) and in politics for helping us to make this vision a reality and for their tireless work with us over many years to develop concepts and ideas. On behalf of all the Minister-Presidents of Hessen and the ministers and government employees who have been involved over the years, I would particularly like to thank Minister President Boris Rhein, who in 2015, as the then State of Hessen Minister for Higher Education and the Arts, brought about the decision to finance the entire new HfG building in Offenbach Harbor with HEUREKA funds. My sincere thanks go likewise to Mayor Dr. Felix Schwenke, who has continued the support for our new building on the part of the Offenbach city authorities from the outset, in the spirit of his predecessors and staff. I would also like to say a big thank-you to our Chancellor Dr. Susanne Eickemeier for her hands-on commitment, including in conjunction with the longstanding Vice Presidents Prof. Peter Eckart and Prof. Kerstin Cmelka. A big thank-you also goes to our emeritus Prof. Klaus Hesse, who, together with the editorial team consisting of Jens Balkenborg, Moritz von Ilberg, Jochen Krimm, Katja Kupfer, and Ellen Wagner, is responsible for the concept and design of both this publication and its predecessor: Thanks to Mathias Bär for the digital implementation, which can be found at neuehfg.com.

I would like to thank the Heinz and Gisela Friederichs Foundation for its generous support in making this publication possible. Thanks go also to the Friends of the HfG for the additional financial support.

And thus we sail on together to a new harbor, to finally drop anchor there.