Public workshop in Leipzig
As part of the 3rd public workshop of the research project Baukultur konkret, held on 15 and 16 January 2016 at the Tapetenwerk in Leipzig, Baukultur initiatives from rural areas reported about their Baukultur activities, about stumbling blocks in their work, but also successes that could be achieved, in particular, thanks to the support provided within the Baukultur konkret research project.
While the initiatives that took part as pilot or model projects were presented on the first day of the event, the second day was set aside for workshop discussions focusing on content and practical aspects.
The initiatives and the wider public attending the event were welcomed at the start by representatives of the Clients, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR). Ms. Kautz from the BMUB and Ms. Carstean together with Ms. Kocks from the BBSR started by explaining the research context and then described the meaning of the widely used and somewhat awkward-sounding term ‘Baukultur’. Although or precisely because the term is often dismissed as an academic one, the speakers emphasised that Baukultur emerges – particularly on site – tangibly and practically through the activities of the municipalities, but also specifically through the engagement of citizens. That is precisely the reason why the Baukultur konkret project is so important.
Following that, Björn Teichmann from the Office for Urban Projects described the method used by the research team by taking a closer look at the pilot phase, explaining the procedure surrounding the call for projects, and presenting the different topics dealt with by the applicants, in order to demonstrate the sheer range of involvement that is possible in the area of Baukultur.
The initiatives themselves had travelled to the event from all over Germany – not only those who had already received support from the research team, but also those whose cooperation with the team is still to come.
Representing the three pilot municipalities, the Mayor Michael Ruf and the Director of his Board of Works Thomas Kuntosch outlined the experiences that the municipality of Baiersbronn in the Black Forest had in the Baukultur konkret project. Both speakers were very pleased with the work carried out by the research team because, thanks to it, the municipal council in particular could be convinced of the importance of Baukultur. All ongoing construction processes were then assessed and, where the quality was obviously inadequate, they were stopped. In addition, an ideas competition was called to life for the lower part of the village of Baiersbronn, and then carried out with a great deal of citizen participation. The extensive results of the competition are now available.
Some of the other model projects that were presented included initiatives from Schmidtheim (North Rhine-Westfalia), Schwarzatal (Thuringia), Sonthofen (Bavaria), Kalbe (Saxony-Anhalt), Nordkirchen (North Rhine-Westfalia), and Ilzer Land (Bavaria). The spectrum of Baukultur-related topics that were covered could not have been greater. These ranged from revitalising the location or designing the village centre by making historical buildings usable, by holding temporary events in vacant buildings, by discovering opportunities for conversion spaces, by teaching youths about Baukultur, or by generally creating better communication structures on topics relating to Baukultur and urban development in the municipalities. The composition of the initiatives also varied greatly. While some of the stakeholders have already been active for many years as registered associations, others still see themselves as loose groupings of like-minded people grappling with the subject of organisational form.
As such, the second event day was also tailored well to the situations of the initiatives. In three workshop discussions, the participants were able to exchange ideas and information about the subjects “Operational and Use Concepts”, “Self-organisation and Legal Forms”, “and Cooperation with Municipalities and Officials”.
They were also able to obtain advice from invited experts. Niklas Nitzschke from the Federal Foundation of Baukultur gave a talk on the opportunities that open up for rural areas when they start to take a closer look at Baukultur. Taking into consideration the theoretical examination of the construct “rural areas”, he brought forward three examples in his presentation which show that it is worthwhile for both municipalities and citizens, or Baukultur initiatives to become active in the area of Baukultur at their location. Working for the place you live, he added, leads to more awareness and understanding, satisfaction, makes you identify more with your town, and makes you proud of it.
Public workshop of the ExWoSt research programme
Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development