Urban interventions – Just do it!
Yalla Yalla! Studio for change is a team of young and innovative city planners with an emphasis on architecture, urban intervention and urban development. We met with the two founders Robin Lang und Wulf Kramer for an interview.
Robin, why Yalla Yalla? Are things moving too slowly for you guys?
Well, that’s one way to look at it. But, you know, for us Yalla Yalla (“let’s go”) is just the way we approach projects, think them up and then simply get them started. Like we did with our first project, “Buschbad 2014.”
Wulf, you see yourselves as a “Studio for change“. Why is change so important?
Change is happening and all around us. Period! We want to put a positive spin on it by creating new ideas and approaches through our projects. But that’s not all, we also look at public spaces or abandoned urban wasteland in the same way.
In 2016 you moved into the Mannheim Creative Business Center C-HUB. How do you see your future there?
We are totally happy! Not only is the building an architect’s dream, they also put a lot of thought into infrastructure and organization. It’s a perfect fit for the things we want to do. We feel that every day.
You’re very versatile. You not only provide the services any old architect’s office would offer, like planning and modernizations, but you also develop concepts for tradeshows and events and „new forms of space appropriation“. What does that mean anyway?
Here we are talking about the use of vacant or abandoned urban spaces. Our intention is to breathe new life into desolate neighborhoods, using pop-up installations or developing concepts for temporary use of abandoned sites. What’s important to us is showing the potential for transforming spaces into something positive to look at. How you can create innovative concepts that address social needs and embrace the idea of the common good.
You run workshops, give talks and are welcome guests to any panel discussion. How important is it for a startup to be “out” there, be part of the “scene” – and how do you still manage to get some work done?
We really are happy about every invite, since it is a sign that our projects have relevance and weight among experts. It’s a good opportunity to meet like-minded people from other cities to talk shop, swap ideas and stay in the loop. I guess on average we give one talk a month and that leaves enough time to get some work done.
How innovative do you have to be as an architect to stick out from the crowd?
To be able to think and act outside the box seems even more important these days. Many of our projects are not only about good designs that meet certain technical specifications – that’s a given. But there is more to it since we also put a lot of thought into a project’s later use or its social impact. The same goes for marketing concepts that come with the territory and play an ever increasing role.
You seem to love floating new products like the “mobile kitchen“. The line between architecture and product design, is it getting more and more blurred?
Definitely! But I believe that’s always been the case somehow. The tools and methods are pretty much the same, just on a smaller scale.
In 2014 you made a big splash with your idea of a floating swimming pool in Mannheim’s Jungbusch neighborhood. Whatever happened to your “Buschbad“ vision?
We have to admit we sort of put the project on a back burner. But we are still jazzed up about it and are looking for investors to come onboard. The minute we can free up some time, we will be on it again. And in case the “Buschbad” should not pan out, there will be some other project at and around Mannheim’s waterfront. You can bet on it.
Why is Mannheim a good city for startups?
Putting aside our feelings for Mannheim for a second, we can’t help but see the many advantages for startups here. Number one, city hall is very supportive of young companies and number two, the region’s economy is in very good shape and thriving. And the many startup centers are an important factor in this.
What bugs you about Mannheim?
That there is no Buschbad!
What do you love about Mannheim?
The local accent and that people here are straight-shooters.
Your best advice for startups?
Just do it!
Looking back, what kind of mistakes could you have done without?
So far, no major glitches, but we haven’t been around that long yet. Ask us again in a couple of years and we’ll certainly have more to tell you.
Do you listen to music when you work? And if so, what kind of music?
Not so often. But when we listen to music, it’s German rap classics most of the time.
Do you see Yalla Yalla bigger in the future?
We’ll see. A little bigger would be all right. I believe we are on the right track.
Where are your stomping grounds here in Mannheim? You got a favorite spot or hang-out here?
Best place is on or by the water.
When will all your dreams have come true?
The moment Mannheim’s waterfront is more attractive than Copenhagen’s.
Robin Lang, Dipl-Ing.
set up his own business with his Office for Visualizations and 3 D Graphics while still majoring in architecture. Design in urban spaces is also one of his specialties.
Wulf Kramer, Dipl-Ing.
majored in architecture at the University of Stuttgart and TU Delft. His projects are a true reflection of his enthusiasm for temporary use of spaces, new production methods and new approaches to urban development. Since 2014, he has been working at the Institute for Sustainability, Building Construction and Design of the University of Stuttgart.