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  • SUPPORT: Droste Fund will provide between $3500 to $4000 travel support
    (for US-Citizens and Green Card Holders)
  • TERM: Fall Semester 2019
  • 15 CREDITS: Studio (6) + 3 Electives (9).
  • TRAVEL DATES: August 19 to November 30, 2019.
  • PROFESSORS/INSTRUCTORS: Prof. Martin Kläschen, klaeschen@iit.edu along with Faculty of the Hafencity University (HCU) in Hamburg. 
  • COST: Students will need to pay Illinois Tech tuition for course credit hours, travel insurance and housing. Expenses for food in Germany is half of the US cost!
  • REGISTRATION: Architecture Faculty-led - Hamburg Semester Abroad
  • DEADLINE: April 30

As Hamburg is Chicago’s sister city this program involves direct cultural and academic exchange with students and faculty at the local Hafen-City University (HCU).

For more than 800 years, citizens of Hamburg celebrate their waters, not only locally as a natural environment for leisure and entertainment involving Hamburgers in every thinkable nautical activity, but also as infrastructural veins to oceans and Europe’s continental hinterlands for global trade, logistics and shipment. With the opening of the German-German border, Hamburg’s port regained its legendary importance and ever since, it is undergoing massive changes; For the past two decades, this vast areal has been Europe’s largest inner-urban construction site. As meaning and function of the city’s heart transform, the studio will explore its existing and new progressions to charge for design proposals within these post-industrial port settings.


Students will get to know this global city through visiting existing and new developments, such as the Hafen-City, the docks and Airbus industries as well as study phenomena of architectural and urban transformations around the vast harbor area. In order to introduce means and ways to rethink the role of inner-urban ports today, excursions offer opportunities to explore the wider northern European coastal region with trips to comparable port-cities in Scandinavia, East- and South Europe.


The studio will visit and explore Hamburg as a real-city laboratory. It will study historic archetypes around ports and their reuse today. Investigations on various scales aim on studying Hamburg’s multifaceted intertwinement between its waters and recent architectural developments.

The studio will take on regional, architectural and urban subjects such as history, density, patterns of growth, dwellings, popular culture, craft, materials and construction technology and investigate their potential impact on the planning and building culture by considering Germany's economic, social, environmental and technical challenges as a breeding ground for a project: The challenge is to think about Hamburg as an informal city without physical and conceptual preoccupations of our own urban traditions.


In addition to the studio, there are three courses (3 credits each). Prof. Kläschen will lead two courses that will support the studio by delivering the according design research.

A faculty of the Hafen-City University (HCU) will lead a third course. In order to fulfill their individual course requirements for graduation, advanced students are allowed to choose other electives, after coordinating with Prof. Kläschen.


All courses and studio are scheduled during weekdays to allow for easy weekend travels.

Phase 1: Design Research (August through September)

During a first phase, all design research will be conducted along with fieldtrips and regional excursions.

Phase 2: Design (October through December)

The studio will take an informal approach and apply the preceding research to the design process to express conclusions as a basis for the use of appropriate construction types, building systems and material assemblies. The development of the design project focuses on the articulation of ideas and principles as they relate to urbanism and architecture.

In parallel coordination with students and faculty at the Hafen-City University (HCU), the final review will take place in Hamburg in form of a public exhibition along with project presentations to an invited forum of local professionals and authorities.


Prof. Martin Kläschen has taught multiple advanced-, cloud- and international travel studios in Brazil, Columbia, Wales and Germany. He is a German citizen, was born and lived in Hamburg, where his family operates an architectural practice in the second generation.

Professor Kläschen is principal of HouseHaus with awarded projects in the US, South America and Europe and he also serves as a board member of the Chicago Architectural Club (CAC).


Multiple options for studio paces on houseboats and at the Hafen-City University (HCU) are currently inquired.


NGOs: Schaltzentrale, Hallo Festspiele, Geheimagentur, YesWeCamp

Hafen-City University (HCU)


  • This program is open to students of COA’s Graduate Program (ARCH 544), as well as students of the 4th and 5th Year Undergraduate Program. Spaces are limited, so apply early! Preference will be given to students who take 15 credit hours.
  • Undergraduate students that elect to take part in the study abroad program in their fourth year must register for the approved substitution studio to ARCH 417 (if traveling in fall) or ARCH 418 (traveling in spring) that will encompass content that aligns with ARCH 418 and 417 (Comprehensive Building Design).