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

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

Christchurch Sustainable Housing Summit 2016

Linear Park June 9 201417 June 2016 8-3pm
Christchurch Civic Building
Level 1, Function Room, 53 Hereford Street

Price (exclusive of GST)
  • $300.00 for members New Zealand Green Building Council
  • $350.00 for non-members

To Book Click here or for more information

Housing in New Zealand faces many challenges – not least reversing the health impacts of low quality homes while meeting exploding demand. How do we resolve these thorny issues to create resilient, liveable homes and communities?

The biennial Sustainable Housing Summit is your opportunity to hear about inspiring international and local projects, innovative solutions, and models that work. Join us to be informed and inspired, and to network with like-minded peers around the critical challenges and opportunities facing housing in New Zealand.

hear from our knowledgeable and thought-provoking speakers from New Zealand and around the world…

  • Councillor Andrea Reimer, City of Vancouver: Greenest City on Earth: Glimpses from Vancouver
  • Adam Beck, Director, Centre for Urban Innovation, Brisbane:  A New Code for Sustainable Neighbourhoods: Glimpses from North America.
  • Carolyn Ingles, Head of Urban Design, Regeneration and Heritage, Christchurch City Council  Opening Speaker: Challenges and chances for the residential building sector.
  • James Legge, Director, Six Degrees Architects, Melbourne: The Nightingale Model: Upsetting the status quo of the speculative multi-residential housing development

  • Richard Palmer, Associate Director – Sustainability, WSP, Sydney  Precinct Infrastructure: The key to effective urban transformation

  • Viv Heslop, Sustainability Manager – Panuku Development Auckland: Successful Urban Revitalisation: Lessons from Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter

  • Tim Porter, Project Director – Major Projects, Holmes Solutions: Waste reduction through evidence-based design and prefabrication

The Panel Discussion and Open Mike includes:

  • Robert Linterman – general manager residential, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA)
  • Professor Robyn Phipps – professor in construction, program director construction and leader of the Built Environment cluster, Massey University
  • Geoff Butcher – Cooperative Sections and Community Housing Trust
  • Geoff Simmons – general manager, Morgan Foundation

Viva! still on the hunt for Land

AerialView_BannerViva! Continues to look for land within the 4 Avenues

We continue to hunt for land in the city to develop our first city based Urban Village
– do you know of any land that would be suitable for our sustainable urban village?

Land size of approx 3000 m2 – 5000 m2 would be good.

We presently have land we are doing due diligence on however if certain conditions do not come together we need other options.

Contact Jane

Co-operative Sections – Now there is an Idea

Co-operative SectionsGeoff Butcher spoke at the last Viva Networking Meeting about his efforts to cut back on the price of housing by focusing on development costs, and working co-operatively to develop a piece of land.  Visit his Website

Sections cost too much,  and many subdivisions are poorly designed and boring because of the limitations put on building design.

The issues for people in Christchurch:

  •  They will receive a payout on their Red Zone section which is insufficient to buy a new section. OR
  •  They will receive a payout on their house and section which gives them insufficient equity to buy another property. OR
  • They just can’t afford a section OR
  • They want to be more involved in the building of their new home and community OR
  • They find  the covenants are too restrictive OR
  • They just want to try to develop and build quality homes in a different way.

The Solution:

co-ops workCo-operate with a group of people to get a section at a 30% discount to typical current market prices.  More detail

One project is Underway – the Hikuwai 

HikuwaiAll the initial blocks were taken up by cooperative members, with the last one being sold in Dec 2013.  However, the central block (originally lot 16) is to be further subdivided. Houses have been designed in this innovative precinct and they are looking for buyers. Interested in buying? More information here

Geoff Butcher Economist 1 Cooperative Developments from Christchurch Voices on Vimeo.