Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bridges to Utopia? A Sustainable Urban District in Freiburg, Germany

by Jan Scheurer

Vauban's implementation can be divided into five stages: The first stage includes a student village and the alternative cohousing group SUSI, both largely in converted barracks buildings. The second stage, officially known as 'erster Vermarktungsabschnitt' consists of new buildings in the eastern half of the site, either side of the central avenue (Vaubanallee). This section is now about 90% inhabited and this is the part - or more precisely, about two thirds of it that are free of front-door parking, some 240 units at present - that the data presented here refers to. The second stage will be duplicated with similar urban typology in the western half of the site, where there will be a regional rail stop and tram terminus in a few years' time, as a third stage now under construction ('zweiter Vermarktungsabschnitt').
The remaining two stages are the solar district Schlierberg, east of the present sections - a neighbourhood of 210 plus-energyhouses, producing excess electricity from photovoltaic systems feeding into the grid - and a final stage at the north of the site designed to integrate residential and commercial/light industrial uses (Sperling 1999).
Most individual blocks within the surveyed section, which was largely completed during 1999, were sold to small cooperatives of owner-occupiers, each comprising between 3 and 21 households (Baugruppen). These cooperatives are responsible for the detailed building design of their shared property, accommodating their specific individual and collective needs and aspirations in a common plan, and frequently pursuing additional environmental and social objectives. This not only generates remarkable diversity of architectural and open space solutions in a fine-grained mix of lot sizes suitable for varying building types from singlefamily terrace houses to 20-unit apartment buildings. It furthermore fosters fruitful cooperation and common activites between future neighbours at an early stage, providing ample opportunity to build a robust and conflict-tested community along with the buildings (Forum Vauban 1999, Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-W├╝rttemberg 1999) .

pictures of residential units in Vauban, Freiburg:
photo by tom.brehm

photo by tom.brehm

photo by tom.brehm

photo by tom.brehm

more about Germany:

The M├╝nster Application for the European Green Capital Award

Bicycle policies of the European principals: continuous and integral

Artbase Grabowsee – Urban Art Festival

The International Doctorate Programme European Urban Studies (IPP-EU), Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany

The streets of central city of Aachen, Germany

The pedestrian streets of Bochum central city


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