As part of our interview series with clients, we spoke with Rainer Nonnengässer. In his capacity as executive chairman of International Campus GmbH, he is concerned with high-quality living concepts for students and mobile professionals. We wanted to know why Micro Living is a forward-looking solution for our cities. We also spoke about our cooperation for housing offered at THE FIZZ and HVNS. Right now, we are jointly developing new standards for the interior design of temporary apartment buildings – for example, currently at the HVNS locations in Berlin and Frankfurt am Main.
After coworking offices, apartment buildings are the new stars in the real estate sky. Many companies are trying to gain a foothold in this market. What distinguishes International Campus from others?
On the one hand, we do not market serviced flats or boarding houses, but focus on purely residential products instead. Conceptually, these are designed for a length of stay of six to twelve months – or longer, of course. On the other hand, we are targeting two clear groups: students and mobile professionals, for whom we have developed the two brands THE FIZZ and HVNS.
How do you meet the needs of these target groups?
With regard to students, Germany has a specific socio-demographic situation: due to the central allocation of university places, young people are forced to be mobile. With our housing concepts, we meet their needs for a central location, community with like-minded people, easy accessibility, security and cleanliness, etc. We want students to feel at home in our buildings from the very beginning and be able to socialise. To promote togetherness, we take various measures such as communal areas and joint events. International students in particular benefit from the low-threshold availability of accommodation, which they can easily book online. The entire booking process is largely digital and makes it easier to arrive and get started in a new environment.
What does the HVNS housing concept offer for professionals?
Easy arrival and support with regard to core needs. For professionals who work long hours, we offer a living environment featuring all the amenities required for a longer-term stay. In addition, we offer shared facilities such as a gym or lounge with a coworking space, communal kitchen and bar. There are different zones for different requirements – from focused work to winding down at the end of the day.
Together with brandherm + krumrey, you designed communal areas for both THE FIZZ and HVNS. How did you go about it?
Interior design is a matter of trust. Therefore, the chemistry had to be right for such a collaboration. With brandherm + krumrey, we quickly realised that we have a similar understanding of the product and that we also move in the same direction in terms of taste. At the HVNS location in Hamburg, we jointly designed the common areas, which turned out to be very beautiful. We are also working on another HVNS project in Frankfurt am Main and are jointly developing the design of the living and communal areas of THE FIZZ.
What role does interior design play in the use and marketing of the projects and how is this supported by the design work of brandherm + krumrey?
Residents should feel at home with us from the very first second. That’s why interior design is so important. Design always involves a balancing act between posh and glamour on the one hand and durability on the other. You have to keep the balance, because it’s not very economical or sustainable to constantly replace the furnishings. With brandherm + krumrey we have found a good basis for achieving this. Originality, innovation and design orientation are among the criteria, as are functionality, durability and a certain timelessness. The interior design must not be overloaded. Another important point are flexible elements, so that, for example, the colour concept can be changed by replacing the curtains, the carpets, and so on. In addition, mobile elements such as movable storage containers or sideboards give tenants the opportunity to personalise their private living space.
What potential do you principally see for Micro Living with regard to future housing solutions?
I think that we are at the beginning of a change that affects the entire rental housing market. In Germany, small flats still account for a very small share of the market. There are more five-bedroom flats than one-bedroom flats, since the German rental housing market has traditionally been geared mainly towards families. For years, however, we have been confronted with shrinking household sizes. In most big cities, the share of one-person households is now over 50 percent and the majority of households are without children. Hence, there is an increasing demand for smaller flats, which are, however, still not being built at a particularly intensive rate. In my opinion, this will lead to a significant shift in construction activity in the coming years. There is also an increasing demand for “service living”, for example in the form of furnished properties or additional facilities such as a gym or a coworking space – this is something you hardly find on the German housing market at present. Supply and demand will have to converge more strongly in this regard. Especially in urban areas, the future will therefore see a more diverse, concept-based housing offer.