Pilot Study: Neighborhood Academy

Berlin’s urban garden in Prinzessinnengarten

Berlin University of the Arts will collaborate with the Neighborhood Academy (Nachbarschaftsakademie)/Common Grounds in developing, establishing and testing a MAZI framework that facilitates and supports the creation of local and global neighborhoods through collective learning.


The work of the Neighborhood Academy in Prinzessinnengarten is embedded in a community of practice, locally as well as internationally. A strong focus of the Academy lies in the bottom-up development of community-oriented spaces that link together social, cultural and ecological aspects of our urban life. With many years of experience in working with this issue, it has become clear that other initiatives facing similar questions often have difficulties in reflecting and sharing their experiences and hands-on knowledge through lack of time and opportunity. Struggles and engagement often focuses on specific spaces or topics, often not linking these specific struggles to others or overarching discourses such as democracy, climate change, social justice, food justice, equality or environmental justice.

The Neighborhood Academy engages in local and global exchange between urban and rural communities, commons, right to the city, socio-ecological transformation from the bottom-up and self-organized learning.


The Neighborhood Academy is located in Prinzessinnengarten.

Prinzessinnengarten (Princess gardens) was launched as a pilot project in the summer of 2009 at Moritzplatz in Berlin Kreuzberg, a site which had been a wasteland for over half a century. Along with friends, activists and neighbours, the group cleared away rubbish, built transportable organic vegetable plots and reaped the first fruits of their labour.

Some facts about Neighborhood Academy

• The Neighborhood Academy was founded in 2015 by Elizabeth Calderón Lüning (common grounds e.V.), Marco Clausen (Nomadisch Grün gGmbH), the foundation anstiftung and the swedish artist, Åsa Sonjasdotter. The current program is curated by Robert Burghardt, Elizabeth Calderón Lüning, and Anna Heilgemeir (common grounds), Marco Clausen (Prinzessinnengärten), und Åsa Sonjasdotter.

• The Academy is housed in the “Laube” (the arbour) – a three-story, catalyst-architecture emerging in Prinzessinnengarten as a physical platform for the Neighborhood Academy and other cultural and educational activities. The experimental architecture is being built in a collective DIY-process together with volunteers, students and apprentices during the summer of 2016. The Laube will create spaces for workshops, film-screenings and public discussions.

• Common Grounds is a co-founder of the Neighborhood Academy where we develop, offer and open up fields of action for a participatory, applied knowledge exchange within urban spaces. It is a non-profit association supporting people and organizations to take action within their daily environment in a way that leads towards a resilient future for our livelihoods. Through consulting and organizational development, it supports the proliferation and development of urban community gardens as places of community building and learning.

Neighborhood Academy on Facebook

Photos from MAZI workshop in Prinzessinengarten, July 2016

Prinzessinnengärten, Berlin. July 2016

A public conversation with Marco Clausen and Andreas Unteidig on Prinzessinnengarten, Nachbarschaftsakademie and the MAZI project. Recorded at Supermarkt, Berlin, 15 February 2017. Part of Switch On Mehringplatz – EULER , EU Erasmus plus project


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