Podcast in German: Kathrin Krienke and Christian Wild von Hohenborn, September 14 2021
Senf.koeln is a platform for participation founded in Cologne by a multidisciplinary team of students united by their love for the city and motivation to make it even better.
Senf.koeln ist eine Beteiligungsplattform, die von einem multidisziplinären Team von Studierenden in Köln gegründet wurde. Sie sind vereint von ihrer Liebe für die Stadt und von der Motivation, sie noch schöner zu machen.
Senf.koeln is a digital platform that allows users to contribute ideas on a map of Cologne, Germany. As of September 2021, more than 230 ideas were collected in a range of areas including mobility, green infrastructure, and recreation. Idea platforms for cities are not entirely new, but the team of students from Cologne, Germany, are filling the gaps missed by the typical platforms developed by municipalities and companies.
We are three urban planners, two designers, and one of us is in marketing and social media. Right now we complement each other perfectly.Kathrin Krienke 09/2022
The project uses an Instagram account for communicating ideas. The widely used platform allows them to reach a more diverse audience than those who typically visit official participation workshops. Rather than competing with the city’s official website for citizen engagement, the team considers senf.koeln a complementary offer that allows citizens to contribute constructive ideas instead of just reporting nuisances. The project positions itself as a vehicle for the ideas of others. Above all, it encourages a conversation about urban space. The collected ideas themselves inspire people to rethink and in turn develop new ideas.
Actually, it was almost a good thing that the administration blocked us like that at the beginning, because it made us find even more ways to use the medium.Christian Wild von Hohenborn 09/2029
The project doesn’t stop at collecting ideas, but actively translates them into space. As a first step, popular ideas are visualized by the team’s designer and published as Instagram posts. Some visualizations were even made into an augmented reality filter that allows users of the app to place them directly in any space – through the lens of a smartphone, that is. Finally, the team also tries to implement changes through various means, including forwarding them to the administration through official channels, but also interventions in public space.
According to the team, several local politicians had expressed their interest in the initiative. Receiving ideas from the public before making official resolutions would help city and district councils get new ideas, understand public opinion and have a better basis for decision making. The team behind senf.koeln had hoped that the city administration would respond with similar enthusiasm, but attempts to set an appointment had failed thus far. For now, the project tries to find ways to implement ideas without official support, but will continue to seek an exchange with city officials.
Kathrin Krienke studied geography (B.Sc.) and urban and regional development (M.Sc.) in the cities of Cologne and Kiel. She has been part of the Senf.Koeln-Team since the beginning of 2021 and combines professional expertise with support in communication and project management.
Christian Wild von Hohenborn is a trained media designer and is currently studying at the Köln International School of Design. He has been part of the Senf-team since the beginning of 2021 and manages the processes, platform development and various projects.