Could Baugruppe be the answer to the UK’s housing challenge?
March 19, 2012
I’ve long been a fan of self-build housing, having grown up in a house my father designed and built. I was reminded of his entrepreneurial zeal this week following the announcement of DCLG’s NewBuy Guarantee initiative, which confirmed our reliance on a developer-led model of housing design and construction.
Baugruppe is completely different model of development which, roughly translated, means ‘self-build communities’. In some parts of Germany groups of house buyers work together co-operatively to purchase land and then design and build their own homes together.
Baugruppe has been actively encouraged within projects like the redevelopment of the Vauban quarter of Frieburg, where it played a crucial role in helping to create the high quality environmental standards, design and car free environments that are characteristic of ‘Quartier Vauban’ today. Indeed, the city council actually gave preference to groups of citizens over commercial developers at the site, and also fixed the land prices so that commercial developers could not enter into a bidding war.
Through this process not only did residents get exactly the type of house they wanted (within the parameters of the overall planning guidance and site masterplan) but they also began to get to know their future neighbours even before they moved into the area, building a sense of community from the very start. Individual families can also add their own design ideas to the building which gives the neighbourhood area a real sense of identity.
Could self-build co-operatives work in the UK?