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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 120 - Achieving diversity through small development parcels

120 - Vauban, Freiburg

The district of Vauban in Freiburg has achieved a rich variety of building types and styles through the introduction of small development parcels and promotion of self-build projects.

Vauban is the urban redevelopment of a 35 hectare, former French army barrack site to the south of Freiburg. A strong participatory process between the City Council and the citizen’s association, “Forum Vauban”, led to the development of an environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable district. One of the many unique aspects of Vauban is the wide variety of housing types and architectural styles that can be found within the urban blocks. Instead of using volume house builders for the development of the district, future residents were encouraged to form building co-operatives and design and build their own homes. To enable this process, Freiburg Council was responsible for the delivery of the infrastructure which was built upfront.

Forum Vauban ensured that smaller groups of individuals had preference over the larger developers in the allocation of building plots. These small "building groups” would jointly buy a building plot and oversee the design and construction of their multifamily dwellings. This enabled residents to participate in shaping their living environment and put their own time and creativity in the building process. As a result, the Vauban community feels closely connected to its environment and is motivated to maintain it.

To achieve the aim of creating a sustainable district, the joint building projects had to comply with strict sustainability codes. Design guidelines were also set with regard to build-to lines and building depth, but many other design aspects such as colour, height and architectural style were kept free from restrictions. The building groups could also specify the width of the plot they wanted to develop, resulting in a diverse range of building types within a single street.

The overall result is rich and varied, accommodating individual building design without compromising the overall quality of the district.

Other Information

UDC2 Section - Delivering Quality and Adding Value 

A wide variety of architectural styles and plot widths can be found within a single street.Images (image bank)