Baukultur Workshop, April 2015
Especially in the countryside and in smaller towns, the most important question is how existing structures are to be used. It is important to find synergies to inspire citizens for Baukultur and to take bold decisions. With lectures, open discussions, a project exchange, and exhibitions, the Federal Foundation of Baukultur launched its new “Town and Country” focus.
“Lively Communities” was the topic of discussion on 25 April 2015 at the Kassel documenta Hall and at the reception on the previous evening in Kassel’s Weinkirche. Over 200 participants came to learn how townscapes can be preserved and further developed, how to adapt to aging populations and migration to cities, and how residents can engage in Baukultur. Ten best-practice projects were presented.
“Priority for existing buildings”, is the credo of Prof. Manfred Hegger, who introduced at the Kassel event the example of the Hessen Campus in nearby Wolfhagen, a former barracks of a tank devision that has been fitted out with translucent solar cells and turned not only into a vocational school but also a power plant. Also in Fritzlar and Gotha, existing properties are to take priority. The councils there will not designate any new development areas. Gotha, which has already seen a population decline, relies entirely on internal development. The town has taken on the role of moderator and some small-scale redevelopment has taken place on 40 plots in the central town. Fritzlar’s concentrated efforts on its town centre have a preventive character: a team consisting of architects, the town council, and the office for historical monuments consulted on the reuse of old town houses in order to hold on to young families and to create accessibility for the disabled in old buildings. Whereas Fritzlar aims to implement a number of small projects, in Blaibach in the Bavarian Forest, on the other hand, a flagship project was deemed necessary. With a community centre and concert house, the completely derelict centre has been revived for cultural purposes. Committed individuals with strong ideas were the key here. The same was true in Klein Leppin in the Prignitz region, where the ambitious plans of a small group have turned the village into a centre for opera. Up to 200 village residents are involved on and behind the stage.
Baiersbronn has put the topic of Baukultur on its civic agenda and has announced that the material wood – beyond the Black Forest clichés – is to be used in all new buildings, both for the sake of tourism as well as part of an upcoming local redevelopment. The compact Altmühl-Jura-Haus has been reinterpreted in Wettstetten near Ingolstadt. The town’s proximity to Audi’s factory means that it has grown rapidly. Its town centre, however, was anything but lively. The council has used its first right of purchase to construct an ensemble of town hall, community hall, day-care centre, and kindergarten.
The combination of childcare facilities and nursing homes for dementia patients in particular has produced new synergies. The project by Susanne Hofmann and Baupiloten in Dötlingen in Lower Saxony also strives for the coexistence of young and old. After establishing the desired spatial atmosphere and requirements for floor plans, a small village consisting of detached houses for families and older people, alongside a communal “carer house”, was envisaged. It is now being realised by a cooperative. Roland Gruber from the Austrian association LandLuft has carried out advertising for unconventional forms of citizen participation, for example, directly linked to an architectural competition, thus reaching the regular community round tables as well as young people. Fast participatory processes lasting a maximum of three days are important, said Gruber. It is also important that all stakeholders are on an equal footing and that modern media are used. Although such methods may be easier to implement in the existing communities of a village than in the city, in fact one must look for the village in the city, said Christof Nolda, the Kassel head of building development. What is common to all projects is the activation of creativity, the Chair of the Federal Foundation of Baukultur, Reiner Nagel, emphasised in his conclusion. Be it through a strategic construction limitation as in Gotha, by directly addressing those who use the facilities, as in Dötlingen, or the exemplary role of individuals, such as in Blaibach and in Klein Leppin.
Following the presentations, the participants discussed with the speakers at ten tables the main aspects of the case studies, such as tourism, building heritage, and renewable energy. In the foyer, a project exchange featuring numerous local initiatives and projects from all over Germany invited participants to engage in further exchanges of views. An exhibition by LandLuft introduced people behind Baukultur best practices.
The Baukultur Workshop was accompanied by the photo exhibition “Baukultur im Bild. Räume + Menschen” (Images of Baukultur: Rooms + People), which featured living Baukultur with award-winning and selected works of the 2014 photography prize awarded by the Federal Foundation of Baukultur. It can be seen until 3 May 2015 in Kassel’s KAZimKUBA.
Partners for the Workshop are the Deutsche Städte- und Gemeindebund (German Association of Towns and Municipalities), the Association of German Architects (BDA), the German Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK), the Federal Chamber of Engineers (BIngK), the City of Kassel, and the Landesinitiative Baukultur (State Initiative on Baukultur) in Hesse. Media partners are the magazines Bauwelt, Garten+Landschaft, and Stadtaspekte.
Town and Country
Federal Foundation of Baukultur