Alternative housing delivery: Baugruppen

What is Baugruppen?

Permeable solitary blocks through to the River Spree create public access at Spreefeld. Andrea Kroth, Author provided

The Baugruppen model represents an innovative strategy for constructing new housing. Known in North America as co-housing, Baugruppen or joint-venture buildings in Germany, and l’habitat participatif or participatory housing in France, are resident-led housing design and development.

Baugruppen is an approach to developing housing where private owners collaboratively build affordable multifamily projects. It’s not quite the same as co-housing – some include common spaces and facilities (e.g. gardens, community rooms, roof terraces) but these are not necessarily incorporated. However, like co-housing, baugruppen incorporate a participatory planning process.

Multiple families get together and agree the design that suits everyone – these are usually multi-storey, multi-unit buildings (think apartments) rather than detached or semidetached housing. An alternative form is Baugemeinschaft, a form of cohousing led by an independent consultants-developer, often with an architectural background, have emerged as viable options as more Germans look to become homeowners.

How do baugruppen deliver affordability?

Apartment layouts at Ritter Strasse 50, initiated by ifau and Jesko Fezer with Heide and Von Beckerath, are highly individualised. Andrea Kroth, Author provided

Baugruppen are an affordable approach to housing because they are generally funded without developers (self-financed). Local professionals tell me that groups of individuals working collaboratively and without the developer can save 15 – 20% of housing costs (basically removing the development margin from the construction costs). Leaving owners to complete fitout themselves provides additional cost saving opportunities.

In Wilhelmsburg (Hamburg), we came across two quite different examples of baugruppen.

  1. The first was a mixed development, in partnership with a developer, where the front portion of the development was sold off to private owners and the rear portion owned by partners in the baugruppen.
  2. The second baugruppen development was quite different. Named Smart Price Houses, they were designed as a do-it-yourself development. The basic skeleton structure, staircase access and basic building connections were constructed for the co -owners. The design idea is Le Corbusier’s Dominio House. Individual owners then designed and completed the interior fit-out of their own units.
  3. In Berlin I went to a third baugruppen in Ritterstrasse where 19 households came together to design / build this attractive development. They reputedly saved 20% of construction cost by adopting industrial construction methods (for example, electrical conduit runs surface on walls) and selfmanaging the contract to avoid developer margin.

How Cities are supporting Baugruppen

At Urban Living 01, Abcarius and Burns Architecture Design created an operable facade to get around a ban of balconies. Andrea Kroth, Author provided

City support for baugruppen I met with Stattbau, a multi-disciplinary design practice which has a contract with the City of Berlin to provide facilitation services for those groups interested in participating in baugruppen developments. Similar services are offered in Munich and Hamburg.

This is an innovative and successful way to support groups who want to design and develop their own communities. With a lawyer and business manager on their team, Stattbau lead a robust process which supports groups through the orientation phase, the planning phase, the purchase of land / construction process and the occupation / residence and ongoing maintenance.

Over 8 years, Stattbau has facilitated 160 groups to build baugruppen. It’s fair to say that city governments in Germany have shaped and promoted this practice with policies that support self-organised, collaborative building. Take Tuebingen, for example. By the mid-90s, Tuebingen was beyond affordable for many residents.

The City purchased brownfields vacated by NATO in the southern part of town, and Alternative housing delivery: Baugruppen Page 3 held competitions to sell individual lots to baugruppen with the best concept. Baugruppen were required to allocate the ground floor for non-residential use, and set development to the block periphery with large areas set aside for semi-private courtyards.

Tuebingen’s approach resulted in costs 10-20% lower over typical developer models, with higher levels of diversity and ownership amongst younger families. The City of Hamburg undertakes to encourage and facilitate the development of baugruppen with a special department which has overseen and coordinated the building of 1800 developments over the last decade. Hamburg sets aside nearly 20% of suitable land specifically for baugruppen, and if there is competition for a lot between interested groups, the City looks at various criteria, including viability, concept originality, owner diversity, etc.

This pushes baugruppen in the planning stage to be very innovative –such as predominantly immigrants, or single parent households only. In Freiburg, the city council made a conscience decision that developmental rights in Vauban would be preferentially given to baugruppen over developers. The city and working group felt that prioritizing affordability (through collaboratively-built projects), would make it attractive and feasible financially for families to live there rather than suburbs.

Rather than bidding wars, lots were awarded to parties meeting criteria such as most diverse scheme, most ecologically sound, etc. Freiburg’s city council even provided facilitators to help a baugruppe procure legal and financial representation for their project. In terms of population density–at 5,300 inhabitants over 38 ha –Vauban is denser than over 95% of Seattle, yet it maintains a distinct character and ample open space. Baugruppen would certainly require New Zealanders to adopt a different approach but with the burgeoning interesting in community-led development, the time might be right. With suitable support to ensure success, clearly there are savings to be made. And with participation in design, future owners can choose what they want and how they want to live in a medium density setting.

The original story published here

VIVA AGM Monday 27 June

Viva Networking meeting and short AGM
Focus on Building Costs

5.30-7.30  Monday 27 June 2016
Pegasus Arms,14 Oxford Terrace
(hospital end) Access off Tuam St or Oxford Tce (map)
RSVP to Jane Quigley (
bjanequigley@gmail.com)

Housing Affordability

Our huge building costs are making housing unaffordable to many New Zealanders. Over the next few months we will explore why this is and the alternatives.                                  

Park HomesAt our AGM we will have an informal discussion on ParkHomes, (www.ParkHomes.co.nz), with creator Paul Hennessey. Paul has designed an innovative way to deal with TC3 land creating a warm, well insulated, compact home that does not cost the earth

SUBS DUE!
Bring your $20 VIva Subscription   (or click here to pay online)

For your reference:

The Viva! Project
Our vision: “Creating Vibrant Urban Villages, Innovative and Inspiring Examples of Sustainable Design and Connected Community”

 

Innovating in Melbourne Apartments

The Commons, a precursor to the Nightingale apartment projects, is built and occupied. It showed the Melbourne financial model works

The Commons, a precursor to the Nightingale apartment projects, is built and occupied. It showed the Melbourne financial model works

Better, cheaper apartments in Melbourne might provide New Zealand with a model. WILL HARVIE reports in The Press

Architects design, they don’t develop. But in Melbourne a group of architects are getting into the development game and doing it their way, an ethical way.

“We are not trying to squeeze out every last dollar,” says James Legge, a founding director of Six Degrees Architects and a key player in the Nightingale model of sustainable apartment development.

nightingale

The planned Nightingale One apartment project. Could you live here?

“Our cities and their inhabitants deserve beautiful, well-built and well-sized homes designed for real life,” reads the Nightingale website. “At present, the market is not delivering this and as long as the current formula remains profitable, there is no incentive to raise the bar on the status quo.”

The Nightingale social enterprise model starts with about 20 ethical investors. Some of these are architects – mid-career designers who can manage a $100,000 investment, says Legge – but others are sophisticated investors who lean toward doing good with their money….

rooftop garden

The rooftop garden on the precursor project called The Commons.

…It turns out that the model works well with buildings four or five stories high and 20 to 30 units. These buildings are in the “European mode”, Legge says, small enough that all living there will know each other and still having a connection to the street. “It’s not like they’re living in the sky,” he says….

… Purchasers also must participate in Nightingale’s financial model. They’re getting well-designed apartments at low cost but they signed contracts that forbid flipping for a quick buck. Owners must sell to people on the database and they get only the original purchase price, the value of any improvements plus a bump calculated from indexed apartment price rises from the surrounding neighbourhood. “There’s no windfall for the first seller,” Legge says by phone from Melbourne…

James Legge will be speaking at Green Building Council’s Sustainable Housing Summit in Auckland on June 15 and Christchurch on June 17. 

Rosemary reflects: Love their model – engaging people in the process of design, bypassing some of the underlying costs by combining functions, and limiting the way apartments can be on sold to avoide speculation 

Read the whole article here

Actual Costs of Building Affordable Homes

There’s lots of talk of why affordable housing is so difficult.  The costs of land and construction are often thrown about as contributing to house prices rising way beyond affordability.

beacon pathwayYet much of those costs are based on anecdote or, at best, modeled information.  What about actual empirical evidence?

Beacon and NZIER have set out to rectify this.

graphUsing the actual costs of 69 affordable and social houses build in Auckland in 2015, we’ve built a Cost Tower.  This divides costs into 7 categories: Land cost; Land development & infrastructure costs; Professional fees; Construction costs; Council and consenting costs;  Finance, valuation and real estate costs; GST.

The Cost Tower shows where the biggest costs fall (Land and construction) and therefore where the biggest impact of reducing costs will be.  Large variances between top and bottom quartiles show there is considerable room for improvement.  Why are some houses built for so much less than others?  That’s a question the Cost Tower will help builders and developers explore.

Cost tower: Construction costs of social and affordable houses, Auckland 2015

Read More

About Beacon

Beacon offers a range of services and expertise to other organisations sharing the same journey toward transforming New Zealand’s houses and neighbourhoods.

With an extensive knowledge base from our five year government research contract, and experience in numerous collaborative demonstration projects, we have a lot to offer.

Whether you want expert advice, have an idea for a demonstration project that needs developing, or want to tap into our network, we can help!

VIVA Says a Final Goodbye to the Breathe Project

This press release was recently sent out by the Committee:

Jasmax/Viva! - Aerial ViewOne of the finalists in the Breathe Urban Village Anchor Project, The Viva! Sustainable Urban Village was last week told by CERA/CCDU that the Breathe Urban Village idea is no longer being pursued. It has been replaced with a residential precinct concept.

As a result the Viva Project is withdrawing intentions to create a sustainable urban village within the areas controlled by CERA in Christchurch City.

This is an economic decision as the price CERA is expecting for land is not financially viable for a community focused village concept as promoted in the Breathe Competition that they sponsored.

How sad – what was the purpose of the competition?

It turns out that the 58 New Zealand and International entries had no chance of adhering to the competition requirements and developing a community focused village that worked financially. No chance at all!

CERA, you have wasted our time and made a fool of Christchurch on the international stage.

In a recent email received from CERA, following an inquiry into purchasing land for residential development, land prices of $1500m2 up to $5000 & 7000m2 for some high value parcels were quoted. Oh really? Not for residential development in our city. Where are the developers that will take that on, and if they do what price will the housing need to be?

Look how Victoria St has gone ahead in an interesting an innovative way, without constraints that CERA has imposed on the central city.

It is difficult to see how the target of 20,000 people living in the central City will be achieved while CERA holds fast to obtaining the prices it paid for more expensive commercially valued land and expecting residential developments to be viable. And all this on earthquake damaged land.

The Viva! Project has exciting options outside of land controlled by CERA and looks forward to working with Christchurch people and the CCC in creating a sustainable urban village that will be a flag ship for what is possible in city developments.