Architecture - The Convincing 'Complizen' from Halle/ Saale

After studying Interior Design at the Burg Giebichenstein School of Art in Halle and studying Architecture in Vienna, Andreas Haase returned to his home town of Halle at the end of the 1990s. After spending time abroad and working for a range of architectural offices, it was here that his dream finally came true: the opening of his own architectural office. The home of Andreas Haase's first office was an old factory floor which he sometimes sub-let to project groups and assorted individuals. It was his existing contacts who provided him with his first orders. "As a brand new office your budget is often tight and you still haven't developed a customer base. At the start we just wanted to do something that was cool," says Andreas Haase, recalling the early projects. It was at this time that they redesigned the cinema bar Zazie in Halle/Saale, "something I am still proud of today," says the Architect.

One of his tenants in those days was prospective Business Economist Tore Dobberstein, who at that time was a student, completing his final year dissertation. Andreas Haase recalls: “He often joined in and played a productive role in the complizen projects.” With his in-depth insights into business ethics, marketing and management, Tore Dobberstein brought an entirely different perspective to the projects. “Architects often lack the ability to connect with other themes and approaches, which is something that can really enhance their daily work, to the particular benefit of the customer,” explains Tore Dobberstein. It was with this assessment that he convinced the complizen to let him join the team. He has now been responsible for communications and urban development in the architectural office since 2003. His collaboration has seen an increasing number of other thematic fields joining the work of the complizen. One of these was dealing with the empty homes and buildings scattered across the city of Halle in a constructive way. In this context, the young office has developed the label ‘sportification’ to describe the alternative use of empty buildings and space with sports activities.

For nearly ten years the complizen have been researching creative possibilities for combining urban architecture and urban design with new varieties of sport and testing the extent to which they can be mutually dependent. Tumbledown and empty buildings therefore become playgrounds of urban sports – high rise Frisbee races, SkateBAR, BMX circuits and show jumping courses to name just a few. When realizing their projects, the complizen take soundings from professional sports persons. For the young creative, one key requirement for the success of such projects is the discussions between architects and the future users. “Urban architecture and design lives through dialogue with local people,” explains Andreas Haase. That’s why the complizen use targeted ‘interventions’ in their ‘sportification’ project. Behind this is a range of events with which the architects want to talk about urban planning, sport and art at different locations. In this sense, 2011 saw them converting a four room apartment in Antwerp into a place for sport and games. This year they are participating in the ‘Experimental Apartment and Urban Design’ research programme in Berlin with a BMX circuit. The sportification concept also saw an exchange of ideas with the ‘Shrinking Cities’ initiative project of the German Federal Cultural Foundation which drew international acclaim. Its key theme was population exodus in large international cities and the search for new answers to the phenomenon of vacant homes and buildings. “The project offered a very good starting point for developing the profile of our new office,” recalls Andreas Haase. The international reputation of the project made the complizens known in offices in many European cities.

These contacts rapidly lead to new projects. The complizen opened a branch in Berlin, which under the management of Tore Dobberstein, primarily deals with themes in the area of urban development. The communications expert also holds a lectureship at the Institute of European Urban Studies at the Bauhaus University Weimar and has previously followed up invitations to work as a visiting professor at Vienna University of Technology, where he held presentation courses for architects and urban planners for two semesters.

To further the public discourse on urban design, until recently, together with the architect Christian Däschler, Andreas Haase also ran the architectural gallery ‘archcouture’ – the only architecture gallery in the former East Germany. This dealt with the possibilities offered by modern architecture and realized them in the thematic contexts of society, art and culture. “The gallery was really great fun, yet a huge amount of work and devotion was needed to run it at the level of professionalism which we expect. That is why we right now are focusing our efforts on exciting building projects again” explains Andreas Haase. Their remit is wide ranging. At the moment the complizens’ many projects include developing church spires, renovating historic buildings and planning the redevelopment of entire city districts, as is currently happening in Merseburg. Yet the same thing applies during their daily work as it does in their core area of business: architecture is a communicative process. “Our projects ultimately take place in the public realm and affect the lives of many people with different interests and needs.” For this reason the communications professional is convinced that “a good conversation is the beginning of every successful project.”

Author: Kai Bieler
Photo: Andreas Haase

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