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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 023 - Involving the community in all stages of the design process

023 - Vauban, Freiburg, Germany

The redevelopment of a 34 hectare former French army barrack site in Vauban, Freiburg is an excellent example of involving the community in all stages of the development of a new district.

After the withdrawal of French troops in the early 1990s, several of the abandoned structures became occupied by squatters. Following discussions between the squatters and Freiburg City Council, it was agreed to make the redevelopment of Vauban a participatory process known as “Learning while Planning”.

The opinions of the local community were voiced through a citizen’s association, “Forum Vauban”, who worked closely with the City Council and coordinated the public participation process. Forum Vauban became involved in every stage of the area’s development, from providing initial design concepts to the management of the local community centre, but the main contribution of the Forum was its vision for the creation of an environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable district.

As a result of Forum Vauban’s input, all dwellings are built to low energy standards and use alternative energy sources. Bus and tram services provide fast and high frequency links to the city centre. Local traffic has been discouraged as the area provides very few parking facilities. Two multi-storey car parks have been developed at the edge of the district, freeing the streets of traffic and allowing them to be used as playgrounds and meeting places instead.

Forum Vauban further provided a crucial role in facilitating “jointbuilding projects” by encouraging small groups of individuals to form building co-operatives to design and build their own homes. By integrating Forum Vauban in the planning process and “outsourcing” some of its planning powers to the Forum, Freiburg City Council has achieved a unique and sustainable district, with a strong community spirit, where local residents have taken ownership of their environment.

Other Information

  • Location: Freiburg, Germany
  • Project team: Freiburg City Council, Forum Vauban, Buro Kohlhoff (Masterplan
  • Contact: Vauban district website


UDC2 Section - Sowing the Seedg the Seed  

In Vauban the community has taken ownership of the public spaces.

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