During the winter semester, the students collaborated with the Refugee Academy Berlin to initiate the Refugee Academy Open Art Lab (RAOAL) in Hamburg, with the aim of getting to know people who have settled in Hamburg during the recent influx of refugees. Our main partners turned out to be participants in the Artistic and Cultural Orientation program at HFBK. During half a year of sharing experiences and knowledge, we were involved with a number of events, including Nacht des Wiessens at HFBK, Migrantpolitan at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Barcamp in Hannover, as well as several workshops held at the Design for the Living World class at HFBK, such as a World Café brainstorming session, a wood workshop, and several cooking sessions.

At the end of the semester, we evaluated our collaboration on the basis of ‘10 things you need to consider if you are an artist – not of the refugee and asylum seeker community – looking to work with our community‘. We learned that building trust takes a long time, but it is a necessary foundation and a stepping stone to a successful collaboration and the network that follows. We are happy that step by step, a bridge is being built between the new arrivals and us students, many of whom are urban migrants.

Planning for the future: In the spring, the Refugee Academy will start up in Hamburg, and we will continue to be involved in the Open Cooking Lab. The Open Cooking Lab’s practice is focused on sharing home recipes among individuals from different cultural backgrounds, thus crossing borders between refugees, immigrants, migrants and friends.

Photo above: Wood carving workshop with Leonie Schulz, December 6 2017

Title: Hamburg – RAOAL Refugee Academy Open Art Lab
Dates: November 25 2017 – February 7 2018.
Location: HFBK, Hamburg.
Students: Angie Chen (Grundklasse HFBK Hamburg), Xin Cheng, Laura Levin (Product design HFBK Hamburg and HAW communication design), Anne Meerpohl (Painting department HFBK Hamburg), Juli Paetzold (Konzeptdesign HFBK Hamburg), Leonie Schulz, Kastania Waldmüller and Yan Yan.
The Class of the Design for the Living World in collaboration with: Refugee Academy Berlin and participants of the ACO program HFBK Hamburg.
Supported by: Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK Hamburg).


Tee-Kay (Thorsten Kreissig), founder of the Refugee Academy, leads a conversation during World Café.


RAOAL Refugee Academy in HamburgSteps of the project by Angie Yitsu Chen (pdf)


Workshops with ACO participants and students of the Design for the Living World class at HFBK

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