• Villaban
  • Kinder auf Vauban
    Kinder auf Vauban
  • Blick bis zum Münster
    Blick bis zum Münster
  • Idyll mit Sonnenblumen
    Idyll mit Sonnenblumen
  • Fuß- und Radweg
    Fuß- und Radweg
  • Vielfalt der Stile
    Vielfalt der Stile

An introduction to Vauban district


In the South of Freiburg, on the former area of a French barrack site called "Quartier Vauban" , a new district has developed for more than 5,500 inhabitants and (estimated) 600 jobs. In 1993 the planning for the district started and has been completed around 2006-2014 (some construction sites are still open in 2014). By the beginning of the year 2001, 2000 the first new residents had moved in.

The main goal of the project has been to implement a city district in a co-operative, participatory way which meets ecological, social, economical and cultural requirements. The citizen's association "Forum Vauban e.V." (which has NGO-status) applied to coordinate the participation process and was recognized as its legal body by the City of Freiburg in 1995. Forum Vauban was shut down in 2004 as soon as all the urban planning had been accomplished.

Through this process, many ressources became available: the biggest strength of the project is the involvement of people who are forming the district. Major driving forces for the development of Vauban are the ideas, the creativity and commitment of the people involved and the common goal to create a sustainable, flourishing neighbourhood.

In the fields of energy, traffic / mobility, building and participation / social interaction / public spaces new concepts were successfuly put into practice. In Freiburg-Vauban

  • the project's structure integrates legal, political, social and economical actors from grassroot-level up to the city administration,
  • all houses are built at least with improved low energy standard (65 kWh/m2a, calculated similar to the Swiss SIA 380/1 standard) plus at least 100 units with "passive house" (15 kWh/m2a) or "plus energy" standard (houses which produce more energy than they need, another 100 plus energy houses are planned),
  • a highly efficient co-generation plant (CHP) operating on wood-chips is operating since 2002 and connected to the district's heating grid.
  • solar collectors (about 450 m2 until 2000) and photovoltaics (about 1200 m2 until 2000) will be common "ornaments" on the district's roofs,
  • an ecological traffic / mobility concept is implemented with a reduced number of private cars to be parked in the periphery (about 40% of the households agreed to live without an own car), good public transport, a convenient car sharing system and a higher quality of living,
  • streets and other public spaces are playground for kids and places for social interaction,
  • joint building projects (about 30 groups of building owners, the Genova co-operative and the self-organized S.U.S.I.-settlement initiative) are the fertile ground for a stable district's community and rise ecological awareness,
  • a far-reaching participation and the social work organized by Forum Vauban gives voice to the people's needs and supports their initiatives, invents innovative ecological and social concepts and sets up a communication and participation structure including meetings, workshops, a three-monthly district news magazine, publications on special issues and internet-presentations.


Background of the Project "Sustainable Model District Vauban"

The City of Freiburg has bought the area from the Federal Authorities and paid for this 20,000,000 €. As owner of the Vauban area, the City is responsible for its planning and development. The principle "Learning while Planning" adopted by the city allowed flexibility in reacting to new developments. This allowed an extended citizen participation that went far beyond the legal requirements and enabled citizens to participate even in the planning process. The citizen's association "Forum Vauban e.V." applied to coordinate the participation process and was recognized as its legal body by the City of Freiburg in 1995. From the very beginning, Forum Vauban did not want to restrict itself to merely organizing but also developed own suggestions for the planning and building of the district. Therefore the project was created and implemented together with the City of Freiburg and several other partners.

Main Objectives of the Project

The main objective of the project is to implement a city district in a co-operative, participatory way which meets ecological, social, economical and cultural requirements such as

  • balance of working and living areas,
  • balance of social groups,
  • division of land into small lots and preferential allocation to private builders and co-operative building projects,
  • integration of future building owners,
  • conservation of the 60-year-old trees and the biotopes of the bordering creek,
  • priority to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport,
  • privileges to car-free living,
  • co-generation plant and short-distance heating system,
  • all buildings constructed at least with improved low energy standard (65 kWh/m2a, calculated similar to the Swiss SIA 380/1 standard and now (2002) standard in whole Germany, but 6 years earlier
  • preferences for building owners who reach passive house standard (15 kWh/m2 a) in special designed areas,
  • extensive use of ecological building material and solar energy,
  • infiltration of rainwater into the ground, ecological sanitary systems,
  • district centre with shops for the daily needs,
  • primary school and kindergardens,
  • public green spaces, designed together with the local residents,
  • neighbourhood center for social interaction, cultural events etc.,
  • diversity of building shapes,
  • family and children friendliness.

The aforementioned objectives are implemented as follows:

  • in the city's planning process,
  • in a co-operative way (working groups, workshops projects jointly run by the City of Freiburg and Forum Vauban),
  • through the participation process (see "public dialogue"),
  • by private enterprises such as Genova co-operative and Buergerbau AG,
  • by private builders and groups of building owners (Baugruppen) and
  • by many private non-commercial and commercial initiatives within the district.

Project Structure

Three main acting bodies or institutions connected with Vauban can be identified:

  • "Projektgruppe Vauban" (Project Group Vauban), which is the administrative coordination of the local authorities dealing with the Vauban project,
  • "Gemeinderätliche AG", which is a committee of the City Council specially dealing with Vauban; within this committee representatives from political parties are discussing the main Vauban issues together with representatives from the administration and further consultative members such as Forum Vauban,
  • Forum Vauban, which is the local citizen's association and legal body of the extended participation process and the social work within the district.

"Gemeinderätliche AG" is the main platform for information exchange, discussion and descision preparation (descisions are made by the City Council). Additionally, there are regular meetings between members of administration and Forum Vauban. If necessary, further common initiatives such as round tables and workshops are being organized. For the social work (soziale Quartiersarbeit) within the district further special committees were established which include more actors such as the city's welfare institutions. The cooperation is fixed by an agreement between the City of Freiburg and Forum Vauban.

Involved Partners

The City of Freiburg

The entire development of the new city district Vauban is taken over by the City of Freiburg. As soon as it became clear that the french Army would leave the Vauban barack site, the Freiburg City Council decided to commence with the urban development process imediately. This started with the whole planning process including competitions for the urban design concepts as well als the implemantation. The City bought the whole area from the Federal Authorities (20,000,000 €). During the planning process the City opened an extended citizen participation process and supported this process also financially. The City formed its own project team within the Building Department. This team controlls the entire project and coordinates the development of the site as well as developing the infrastructure such as the school and kindergardens. One central task is the sale of the building lots.

The marketing of the building sites adresses mainly private builders and "Baugruppen" (groups of building owners). Some building companies or commercial developers were also accepted in order to guarantee diversity. This brings a great variety to the potential buyers and allowes an interesting implementation process. One experiences, a pleasent variety in the small scale and the viviality in the first phase of the project - a desired result which couples positive urban design with a high level of quality in life.

The marketing process demanded a high input of the City's staff especially to particular individuals involved.

From the beginning, the City aimed at strengthening social and ecological aspects within Vauban and made them part of the development plan. Through the participation process these demands were refined, developed and made complete.

Forum Vauban

The organisation Forum Vauban e.V. was founded in 1994 to support the planning and building process of the new city district Freiburg-Vauban which is designed for 5.500 inhabitants. The main fields of activity were:

  • Organizing a far-reaching citizen participation.
  • Supporting the implementation of community-based building projects such as "Baugruppen" (groups of building owners), co-housing and co-operative building.
  • Realisation of a sustainable model district, especially in the fields of traffic and energy.
  • Coordination of the social work and implementation of a neighbourhood center

The Forum was initiated by a group of active citizens and recognized as a legal body for the citizen participation by the City of Freiburg in 1995. A small team of full-time professionals as well as an honorary executive board and several working groups contribute to the thematic and organisational work of the association. Forum Vauban is being financed through membership fees, donations, public grants and moderate economic income.

Forum Vauban was founded as an NGO and has non-profit-status. Nevertheless, the association influenced or initiated numerous economic activities.

For example the foundation of the Genova Building co-operative and the Buergerbau AG emerged from the work of Forum Vauban. They now offer services whichoriginally were introduced by Forum Vauban, such as counseling and the formation of "Baugruppen" or co-housing groups.

Other Partners Involved

The building co-operative Vauban, Genova eG, was founded in 1997. The co-operative has built 36 housing units (10 of which are publicly co-financed flats) in the first development section and another 40 units in the second section.

Genova originated from Forum Vauban. Genova sees itself in the tradition of the classic co-operative goals of responsibility and self-organisation, collective building and living as well as the creation of communal property. Genova emphasis the issue of young and old living together. Furthermore, an ecological and inexpensive building concept was adopted by the members collectively. People of different ages and life-styles as well as socially and financially disadvantaged people are all integrated into the project. The residents actively participate in the planning process - both where the architecture (orientation and design of the buildings, facades, colors, etc.) and the basic plans for the individual apartments are concerned. The participation takes the form of residents' meetings, workshops, a co-operative council, and also residents' representatives on the management team. The financial risks involved in the project are shared by all members from the very beginning.

The first two four-storey apartment buildings with 36 housing units (from 44 m2 to 157 m2 ) were finished in August 1999. Additional to this, a 50-m2-large communal house, a rentable guestroom and a communal laundry were built. The access galleries, a bridge connecting both houses, the gardens and also the nearby lane developed into attractive semi-public spaces creating a special neighbourhood atmosphere.

The Buergerbau AG (Citizens' Building Stock Corporation) has specialized to coordinate community building projects. The corporation offers all kinds of services, starting with the development of the project and continuing with the planning and building process. It's the job of the company to care about almost everything until the builders move into their new homes. Buergerbau AG also originated from Forum Vauban.

The most important services of Buergerbau AG are:

  • Looking for appropriate settings and development of the community building project.
  • Advertising until all members of the group of future building owners (Baugruppe) are found.
  • Being a continuous and reliable guide for the whole group and open for all kinds of questions during the planning and building process.
  • Taking care for the professional implementation of the community building project.
  • Controlling (costs, schedule, quality),
  • Responsibility for financing and for the accounts of the project.

In Vauban, Buergerbau AG currently is managing 5 Baugruppen with 68 households.

Further Partners are

  • Oeko-Institut - Institut für angewandte Oekologie (Institute for applied Ecology),
  • ICLEI's International Training Centre (ITC),
  • Freiburger Energie- und Wasserversorgungs-AG (Freiburg's public utilities FEW), now changed the name to badenova
  • Freiburger Auto-Gemeinschaft FAG (Freiburg's Car Sharing Association),
  • Passivehouse Wohnen & Arbeiten (Co-Housing Initiative "Living and Working) was the first passivehouse in Germany as a multi-family-house.
  • and approximately another 30 "Baugruppen" (private co-housing associations) and Co-Housing Initiatives.

Detailed Description of the Project

Facts and Figures

Vauban is situated to the South of Freiburg's city center. The distance to the city center and central railway station is about 3 kilometers.

The discussion of the development plan started in 1995 and the major decisions took place in 1996. Detailed concepts for special issues, such as the project "living without an own car", were completed between 1997 and 1999. The detailed planning of the first public green spaces took place in 1998 / 99 together with the new residents. In the year 2000 the first development section of the new district was completed for the most part. The new district with its new buildings and refurbished building of the self-organized S.U.S.I.-initiative and the "Students' Organisation" already provided a home to 2,000 residents. In the summer of 1999, the City of Freiburg began with the sale of properties in the second development section. The building process there started late summer 2000 and will end in 2014.

Dwelling space in Vauban
Dwelling space in Vauban
Students' Organisation: 596 dormitory rooms
S.U.S.I.-initiative 45 housing units (HU)
1st development section: 422 housing units
private builders: 233 HU  
(of those in Baugruppen: 185 HU)  
co-operative Genova: 36 HU  
development companies: 153 HU  
Area of the Schlierberg solar settlement: 210 housing units
2nd development section: about 645 housing units
(of those in Baugruppen: about 200 HU until winter 2000)
(of those allocated to the Genova co-operative: 45 HU)
3rd development section: about 85 housing units

The volume of estimated investments in Vauban is about 500,000,000 € (about 500 Millions US$). The development plan includes some regulations for the design of the houses: for example, "single houses" are prohibited which leads to a compact urban building structure. On the other hand - because of the preferential allocation to private builders and co-operative building projects - individually designed fassades create a very special atmosphere.

Setting New Standards


  • Compulsory improved low energy standard: All new buildings are built with at least 65 kWh/m2a (calculated similar to the Swiss SIA 380/1 standard which is more strict than the German WSchVO'95 standard; a house with 65 kWh/m2a Swiss standard reaches 48-55 kWh/m2a German standard). The average energy standard in Germany for newly houses built between 1995 and 2000 is about 100 kWh/m2a, the standard of older houses is about 200 kWh/m2a.
  • Passive houses: 42 units were built to passive house standard (15 kWh/m2a) in the first development section (of those, 30 in the first two 4-storey passive-houses built in Germany). In addition, 50 more units are planned or under construction in the 2nd development section. Passive houses do not need conventional heating systems: the heat requirements are almost entirely covered by so-called internal gains, passive-solar gains and a technically simple heat recuperation system.
  • Plus energy houses: 10 units of improved passive houses, so called "plus energy houses" (houses which - in the average - produce more energy than they need) were built up to December 2000 by an investor. The investor hopes to sell between 100 and 200 more of these houses within the solar settlement which is part of the Vauban area
  • District heating grid and co-generation plant: In January 2001 it was decided that a highly efficient co-generation plant (CHP) operating on wood-chips will be implemented by the year 2002 and connected to the district's heating grid.
  • Active use of solar energy: More than 450 m2solar collectors were built in the first section and about 120 kWp are produced through photovoltaic systems by the end of 2000 (continuous increase because of federal and regional subsidy).

All together Vauban is estimated to be one of the largest solar districts in Europe.

Traffic/public transport:

  • Car usage reduction in the city district with a noticeably higher quality of life: The goal of the traffic concept is not a small, car-free enclave, but rather reducing the use of cars in the entire district to everybody's benefit. The result is the combination of two forms of living that are usually not integrated into one concept, i.e. "parking-free" and "car-free" living.
  • No parking at the doorstep: For large parts of the residential area, the development plan for Vauban prohibits the building of parking space on private property. Instead, private cars are parked in a community car park located at the periphery of the residential area ("parking-free" living). Cars are only allowed into the residental area for pick-up and delivery. The speed limit on the district's main road is 30 km/h, in the residential area cars should not drive faster than "walking speed" (5 km/h).
  • Support of "car-free" living: Residents without cars are exempted from participating in the community car park. Car-free households thus save the substantial cost of a parking space. The same is true for development companies who put up car-free apartments for rent. The community car park is therefore not subsidized by the "car-free" households (fair distribution of expenses). Car owners have to accept walking a short distance to reach their cars. This soft break with the omnipresence of private cars is offset by a higher quality of living that is valued especially by the car-free households.
  • Implementation of the traffic concept: Because of the building regulations of the Federal state of Baden-Württemberg it was necessary to invent a legal framework to make this concept possible. The association for car-free living in Vauban (Verein für autofreies Wohnen) was founded as a legal body for the implementation of the concept. With more than 140 households within the first developing section alone, Vauban is one of the biggest projects of "car-free" living in Germany.
  • 'District of short distances': A school, kindergardens, a farmer's market, businesses, a shopping centre, a food coop, recreation areas, and approximately 600 jobs will all be within walking and cycling distance.
  • Public Transport: By now, two buslines are connecting Vauban with the city center, the main railway station and the recreation area "Hexental". A tram-line and a suburban train line are planned until 2006.
  • Car Sharing: As a first step, the car sharing company "Freiburger Auto Gemeinschaft" offers five cars and one van especially for people living in Vauban. They are parked in the community car park.
  • Special mobility package for the first development section: Those residents who joined the car sharing organisation not only have access to the shared cars but also received a one-year free pass for all public transportation within Freiburg as well as a one-year 50 % reduction on every train ticket in form of the "Bahncard".


  • Strong support for joint building processes such as Baugruppen and co-operative building: New inhabitants can influence their future living conditions and directly receive economical benefits because building takes place on a larger scale without the engagement of private investors (cost savings up to 25%), Vauban is one of the first communities to integrate this type of development since as far as we know Baugruppen-projects in a remarcable dimension are only existing in Freiburg and Tübingen. The Genova co-operative builds apartments for rent within a collective process. Additionaly, the self-organized S.U.S.I.-settlement initiative refurbished four old barrack buildings which became home for more than 200 young people.
  • District-based information: About 40 major workshops and excursions were organized by Forum Vauban to spread information about ecological building corresponding to the current needs of builders and Baugruppen (see also "public dialogue")
  • Implementation forced by private builders and Baugruppen: Besides the low-energy standard and the "parking-free" area, the marketing concept and the development plan include some more regulations to ecological building such as the greening of roofs, the conservation and planting of trees, rainwater infiltration, etc. Further progressive standards were self-sufficiently implemented by many of the Baugruppen and co-operative (Genova and S.U.S.I.) building projects (e.g. using ecological materials such as wood, clay, and other locally produced energy-extensive building material)


  • Infiltration of rainwater into the ground: The system covers 80% of the residential area.The infiltration of rainwater is an innovative concept but also implemented in other new districts
  • New ecological sewage system within one pilot project (Model house of the Baugruppe "Wohnen und Arbeiten"): Through vacuum pipes faeces are transported into a biogas plant. There they ferment anaerobically together with organic household waste, thus generating biogas, which is used for cooking. Remaining waste water (grey-water) is cleaned in biofilm plants and returned to the water cycle.

Participation, social interaction, public spaces:

  • Partcipation: The principle "Learning while Planning" and the extended citizen participation with Forum Vauban as ist agency set new standards of communication, interaction and integration (see "project structure" and "public dialogue").
  • Social interaction: The social work being part of the developing process helps to set up stable community and neighbourhood structures. Very often, such structures already grew through the building process. Many Baugruppen (groups of building owners) and the Genova co-operative have developed a sensitively balanced community life. These structures are the fertile ground for further initiatives within the district (e.g. the co-operative food store, the farmer's market initiative, the mother's center, and many others).
  • Semi-public and public spaces: Neighbourhood and community structures become visible by the spaces which are created through them. The semi-public spaces (such as access-galleries, community gardens and rooms) were created mainly by the Genova- and Baugruppen-projects. The design of the public green spaces, the resident's streets and the neighbourhood center are developed during several meetings and workshops together with the residents.

Freiburg-Vauban was presented as "German Best Practice" at the UN Habitat II Conference 1996 in Istanbul because of the cooperative planning process.

Public Dialogue

Between 1996 and the End of the year 2000, Forum Vauban as legal body of the participation process organized about 40 major workshops and excursions, three district's festivals and the international conference "UrbanVisions" as a pre-event of the UN "Urban 21" conference in Berlin. About 10 events were co-organized with the City of Freiburg. The workshops were mainly adressing future housing owners, architects, craftsmen, the building industry and financial institutes. For example, the workshops were focusing on

  • ecological building, energy saving technologies and solar energy,
  • greening roofs and the use of rainwater,
  • greening fassades and the ecological design of green spaces,
  • basic information for future building owners, espcecially Baugruppen/co-housing groups (concepts, legal and financial aspects), exchanging information between Baugruppen of the first and the second development section of Vauban and creating new Baugruppen,
  • building with local wood,
  • financing of building projects,
  • design of district's public areas (streets, public green spaces),
  • design of the neighbourhood center (using the concept "planning for real"),
  • and many other aspects.

Additional, numerous regular working groups' gatherings and meetings of special projects or Baugruppen / co-housing groups linked with or situated at Vauban took place regulary. Currently, there are about four meetings of district groups each week in the rooms of Forum Vauban. The working groups' issues are: traffic / mobility, energy, coordination of Baugruppen, social life (roundtable and advisory board of social initiatives, representatives from the City of Freiburg and some welfare institutions), business (roundtable with Baugruppen, commercial representatives and the City of Freiburg), and others.

A detailed description of the consultation and participation process between may 1997 and december 1999 can be found in the Forum's final report of the project LIFE97 ENV/D/000469 "Realisation of the Sustainable District Vauban", submited to the European Commission, DG XI, at the 30th of march 2000.

Continuous press reports (regional, nationwide, international) about Vauban reveal the public interest. The main media for local information/communication are the Forum's bi-monthly district magazine "Vauban actuel" and this website http://www.vauban.de.

Last but not least, the regular meetings of the "Gemeinderätliche Arbeitsgruppe Vauban", the City Council's Vauban committee (see partnership structure) and the meetings of the City Council itself have major influence on the public dialogue.



In the fields of energy, traffic / mobility, building and participation / social interaction/public spaces new concepts of developing a sustainable city district were successfuly put into practice (see "setting new standards", "public dialogue"). In Freiburg-Vauban

  • the project's structure integrates legal, political, social and economical actors from grassroot-level up to the city administration (see "partnership structure"),
  • all houses are/will be built at least with low energy standard plus at least 100 units with "passive house" or "plus energy" standard (between 100 and 200 more plus energy houses are planned),
  • solar collectors (about 450 m2 until 2000) and photovoltaik (about 1200 m2 until 2000) will be common "ornaments" on the district's roofs,
  • an ecological traffic/mobility concept is implemented with a reduced number of private cars (40-50%) to be parked in the periphery, good public transport, a convenient car sharing system and a higher quality of life,
  • streets and other public spaces are/will be playground for kids and places for social interaction,
  • joint building projects (about 30 groups of building owners, the Genova co-operative and the self-organized S.U.S.I.-settlement initiative) are the fertile ground for a stable district's community and rise ecological awareness,
  • a far-reaching participation and the social work organized by Forum Vauban gives voice to the people's needs and supports their initiatives, invents innovative ecological and social concepts and sets up a communication and participation structure including meetings, workshops, a three-monthly district magazine, publications on special issues and internet-presentations.

Measurable Impacts

The Öko-Institut (institute for applied ecology) is examining two development projects as part of the research project "Sustainable districts in urban conversion areas": one of these districts is Freiburg-Vauban. Forum Vauban is the local partner in this project which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The project is examining ecological and economic effects. One of the analytical approaches is life cycle and regional material flow analysis using the GEMIS-software. This is the first time that a complete urban neighbourhood is analyzed with respect to buildings, infrastructure, electricity supply, heat supply, water and waste, traffic and private consumption with a full life-cycle perspective, and using regional data. The implementation of local data (from the model district) was possible for all areas except private consumption for which national average data was used. The determination of the positive ecological impacts used a hypothetical reference district with the same setting and the same size but without further acological effords (e.g. no transport policy, no passive houses etc.).

Through this, the following impacts were found out (all figures are provisional):

  • Energy savings per year: 28 GJ (calculated as "CER", cumulative energy requirements).
  • Reduction of CO2-equivalents per year: 2100 t.
  • Reduction of sulphor-dioxide (SO2-) equivalents per year: 4 t.
  • Saving of mineral ressources per year: 1600 t.

The interim project report offers many results on the impacts of local activities to realize a more sustainable development. Through this, the Vauban-project and further development projects, too, could benefit from this research. The final report will be submited to the German Ministry of Education and Research by April 2001. The homepage of the project "Sustainable districts on urban conversion areas" is: http://www.oeko.de/service/cities

Innovation Impact

As mentioned above, Freiburg-Vauban is a most innovative city developing project in the fields of energy, traffic/mobility, building and participation / social interaction / public space (see "setting new standards"). In addition to this, the district provides some very innovative model projects such as the Baugruppen "Wohnen und Arbeiten" (new sewage system with vacuum pipes, see "setting new standards") and "Gärtner / Passivhaus" (the first two four-storey passive houses built in Germany, one of those completely built out of wood). In Freiburg-Vauban with its upcoming 2000 housing units, it is possible to explore sustainable city developing concepts implemented on a remarkable scale. The district is regulary visited by groups of planners, architects, scientists and (municipal) representatives from different countries.

Besides the innovative technology which also contributed to Freiburg's EXPO 2000- presentation ("Solar Region Freiburg"), a highly innovative aspect is the culture of planning and of the participation process. This leads to highly motivated actors within the process aiming to realize what is best in terms of ecology and human needs.

To what Extent did the Project Reach its Objectives?

All objectives mentioned above were put into practice. For a detailed discussion, it's necessary to distinguish between different kinds of objectives:

1) Participation:

The participation is much stronger than expected. People really identify with "their" district. This can be seen through

  • the number of 30 Baugruppen/co-housing groups and community building projects,
  • the number of people taking part in workshops,
  • the number of people committed in local initiatives (district festivals, farmer's market, neighbourhood center, mother's center, private kindergarden, community gardens, the co-operative district's foodstore, ecumenical initiative for a church in Vauban and others)

2) Ecological Standards:

In the beginning, there was also a kind of "competition" between the City of Freiburg and Forum Vauban around the "better" ideas. The objectives which an integration of ideas of both partners.

On the one hand Forum Vauban, for example, wanted to built more passive houses and a new sewage concept (combined vacuum system) in the whole district. The City of Freiburg on the other hand wanted to implement a special urban concept and had to keep the timetable for planning (also because of financial reasons). Nevertheless, Vauban is (as far as we know) the largest passive house settlement in Germany.

The initiative "living without an own car" is very successful. It completes the City's approach of not having parking spaces at the doorstep of most houses is very successful. Nearly 50% of Vauban's households are "car-free". They use alternative mobility concepts and save money because they don't have to buy a seperate parking lot in the community car park.

Most of the old trees were saved and are now the "jewels" of the new district. The public green spaces follows an attractive design.

Discussions about a co-generation plant by the year 2003 still continue because the financial feasibility is currently threatened by the liberalisation of the European energy market.

3) Social Balance:

Within Baugruppen/co-housing projects the overall costs for buildings are much lower than if a building with similar quality were bought ready from a development company. Through this, even people with a lower income were able to become "house owners". The support of Baugruppen was most successful.

On the other hand, the number of flats for rent is quite small. Especially people with very little income have problems to find appartments. The main reason for this is that federal and state subsidies for building so called "social flats" were heavily reduced. Co-operative projects in some case are able to absorb this major problem.

The objective of family and children friendliness leads to a problem with the demographic balance. Vauban soon needs a third public kindergarden and the primary school has to be enlarged, too. Although it's most lovely to see, how kids occupy the streets, the district's social workers already face potential conflicts arising from the one-sided age structure.

As a result of this it can be said that in Freiburg-Vauban a sustainable district can be experienced daily by the inhabitants.

Main Outcome

It's a major achievement of the City of Freiburg to divide land into small lots and to allocate it in preference to private builders and Baugruppen/co-housing groups. This most important work was supported by Forum Vauban with the organisation of the participatory process and the formation of Baugruppen. The City of Freiburg set the basic ecological standards and was open for new developments through the extended citizen participation and the principle "Learning while Planning".

Here is the main outcome from a researcher's view:

" (...) It was this meticulous liaison work with prospective residents that contributed to, and eventually built the necessary popular support for, some of Vauban's most conspicuous innovations - such as the parking-free and carfree models of mobility management, the emergence of owner cooperatives (Baugruppen) as self-governed, non-profit developers and the instigation of building energy concepts far exceeding the already stringent legal requirements. Assisting people to translate their dreams and aspirations about sustainable living into feasible plans, and seeing them through a council planning department (that may be well-meaning in general terms but often sceptical in detail), became an invaluable role that Forum Vauban filled with verve, notwithstanding some inevitable conflict potential. The level of synergy, accrued from such forceful collaboration structures, eventuated in a multiplicity of experimental and daring solutions to planning tasks when Vauban was developed from early 1998 onwards, proving as inspirational to sustainable building as such as requiring ongoing attention and re-evaluation with regard to their long-term viability. (...)"
(Jan Scheuerer (Dipl.-Ing.),
Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP),
Murdoch University, Perth, Australia).


Publications and Reports

The following reports, folders, booklets etc. were published by the City of Freiburg, Forum Vauban and other project partners:

  • StadtNachrichten (City News): "Vauban-Areal - Zukunft für 5000 Menschen" ("Vauban - a future for 5000 people"), published by the City of Freiburg, 1994
  • Brochure "Städtebaulicher Ideenwettbewerb - Vauban-Gelände Freiburg im Breisgau" (documentation of the competition for the urban design concepts), published by the City of Freiburg, 1995
  • Brochure "Kasernen zu Wohnraum" (Old barracks become a place for living"), published by the Self-organized Settlement Initiative SUSI, 1995
  • StadtNachrichten (City News): "Vauban-Areal - Planung für einen lebendigen Stadtteil" ("Planning for a lively district"), published by the City of Freiburg, 1996
  • Marketing folder: "Wohnfrühling in Freiburg" ("Housing Spring in Freiburg"), jointly published by Forum Vauban and the City of Freiburg, 1996 (funded by the Federal Environment Foundation DBU)
  • Marketing brochure "Wohnen in Vauban - so kann es werden, wenn Bürger mitplanen" ("Living in Vauban - how it could become if citizens participate in the planning"), published by Forum Vauban, 1996 (funded by the Federal Environment Foundation DBU)
  • Marketing brochure "Quartier Vauban - Ein grünes Viertel in Freiburg" ("Vauban - a green district in Freiburg"), published by the City of Freiburg, 1996
  • Information panels "Wohnfrühling in Freiburg", jointly published by Forum Vauban and the City of Freiburg, 1996
  • "Handbuch für Vauban" ("Vauban-handbook"), ca. 250 pages, published by Forum Vauban, 1996 (funded by the Federal Environment Foundation DBU) - Only available as a PDF document on a CD-ROM (mostly in German)
  • Brochure "Mit der Sonne wohnen - Einladung ins Passivhaus" ("Living with the sun - invitation into the passive house"), published by Forum Vauban, 1996 (funded by the Federal Environment Foundation DBU), 2 nd edition 1999
  • Brochure "Bauen mit Holz" ("Wood constructions"), published by Forum Vauban, 1997
  • Exhibition "Energiekonzepte für zukunftsfähige Neubauten" ("Energy concepts for sustainable new buildings"), published by Forum Vauban, 1997 (funded by the European Commission's LIFE programme)
  • Brochure "Energiekonzepte für zukunftsfähige Neubauten", published by Forum Vauban and the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut), 1998, 2 nd edition 1999 (funded by the European Commission, LIFE programme)
  • Marketing folder "Genossenschaftliches Wohnen anschieben" ("Impulses for co-operative housing"), Genova co-operative Vauban, 1998
  • Folder "Modellprojekt Wohnen & Arbeiten" ("Model project Living and Working"), Baugruppe (co-housing group) "Wohnen und Arbeiten", 1998, out of print.
  • Brochure "Quartier Vauban - Leitfaden Bauen in Vauban" ("Vauban - a guideline for builders in Vauban"), published by the City of Freiburg, 1999
  • Brochure "Abfallvermeidung beim Bauen" ("Avoiding waste while building"), published by Forum Vauban and the City of Freiburg, Eigenbetrieb Abfallwirtschaft (Waste management authoritiy), 1999 (funded by the European Commission, LIFE programme)
  • Brochure "Ein Rundgang durch den Modellstadtteil Vauban"/ "A Journey through the Model District Vauban", published in German and English by Forum Vauban (funded by the European Commission, LIFE programme)
  • Book "Nachhaltige Stadtentwicklung beginnt im Quartier" ("Sustainable city development starts in the district"), 408 pages, 320 images, published by Forum Vauban and the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut), 1999 (funded by the Federal Environment Foundation DBU and the European Commission, LIFE programme)
  • Folder "Stadtvisionen - 10 Thesen zur nachhaltigen Stadtentwicklung"/ "Urban Visions - 10 Theses for Sustainable Urban Development", published in German and English by Forum Vauban and ICLEI, 1999 (funded by the European Commission, LIFE-programme, and the Federal Environment Foundation DBU)
  • Documentation of the conference "Urban Visions"/ "Stadtvisionen" - "Sustainable Urban Planning and new Forms of Citizen Participation as exemplified by Freiburg's Model City District Vauban", 98 pages, published in German and English by Forum Vauban and ICLEI, 1999 (funded by the European Commission, LIFE-programme, and the Federal Environment Foundation DBU)
  • StadtNachrichten (City News): "Quartier Vauban - Das grüne Viertel wächst weiter" ("Vauban - the green district is growing"), published by the City of Freiburg, 1999
  • Brochure "Mit vereinten Kräften erfolgreich bauen" ("Successful building in a co-operative way"), published by Genova co-operative Vauban, 1999
  • Final report LIFE97 ENV/D/000469 "Umsetzung des Nachhaltigen Modellstadtteils Vauban" ("Realisation of the Sustainable District Vauban"), technical report, 100 pages, submited to the European Commission, DG XI, at the 30th of march 2000
  • Since 1996, 30 editions of the City District's bi-monthly Magazine "Vauban actuel" are published by Forum Vauban (PDF-download of all editions: www.vauban.de/vauban-actuel/index.html)
  • More publications, not mentioned separately, are for example: folders about Vauban in general, about the objectives and the function of Forum Vauban, about building in Baugruppen, about the Vauban mobility concept and the mobility package and about the school and kindergarden in Vauban (published by Forum Vauban and the City of Freiburg)


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