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The Hamburg Effect: On the Social Positioning, Identities and System Functions of a Technological Object

Authors: Tobias Heuer*,
Topics: Qualitative Research, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Citizen identity, social positioning, qualitative study.
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The social processes of citizens giving urban spaces an identity impacts the wider perception of cities. Citizens, usually as part of larger citizen communities, can determine and adapt the identity of urban spaces, and cities as a whole. However, we lack understanding how new buildings affect this social process of public identity formation. In exploring how buildings are socially positioned, our study examines the relevance of buildings for city identities, building on social positioning theory. We draw on an in-depth qualitative case study of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. The Elbphilharmonie is an iconic building positioned as landmark and used as visitor platform and concert hall. We demonstrate the relevance of system functions of buildings for communities and explore the city-identity change what we call the “Hamburg Effect.”

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