status: cooperative workshop
program: school, workshops, housing
team: Anne-Julchen Bernhardt, Jörg Leeser, Michel Kleinbrahm, Jakob Wolters
client: City of Apolda, IBA Thüringen
date: March 2017
Cooperative Small Town 2050
"Neither the village nor the big city makes any serious effort to fulfill the demand that has always existed for us: to develop everything individually and in such a way as to be as organic as possible, or leading of a self-sustaining life."
Heinrich Tessenow: Handwerk und Kleinstadt, Berlin, 1919, p. 15
"Since [the small town] can indeed, to a great extent, form a world for itself and seek to develop independence, the freedom of all other worldly circles is self-evident to it, and as the small town strives for its own personal existence, it recognizes immediately, from within itself, the conditions of personal freedom, and thereby, in the large-worldly or large-political sense, the ability to take interest and action again."
Heinrich Tessenow: Handwerk und Kleinstadt, Berlin, 1919, p. 62
Germany is characterized by contradictory developments; in the big cities there is a housing shortage, while rural regions are drying up. This is more evident in Thuringia than in other federal states; while the cities of Erfurt, Weimar and Jena are growing, the other municipalities are predicted to experience a dramatic population decline over the coming decades (see Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2015). In Apolda however, its structural, social and economic distinction from the big cities is not seen as a disadvantage, but as a basic requirement for sustainable development. The Cooperative Small Town 2050 envisions the balanced small town of the future, focusing on regulative practices in the areas of energy, food production, and labor. Apolda thus serves as a model for a federal state consisting primarily of villages, small and medium-sized towns.
This Cooperative Town is framed as a ‘work in progress.’ It does not follow a master plan, but develops according to a charter with cooperatively agreed goals, decided on by the Future Council. The council is interdisciplinary by nature, bringing together interested citizens and potential citizens of Apolda. They are responsible for developing regenerative systems of transport, food, energy, work and education; which projects are implemented in which order thus depends on the towns citizens. The diversity of the measures, their distribution in the area and their networking are therefore decisive.
The Future Councils meet regularly in the charter space on the RST site, where a multidisciplinary technical school focuses on the development of cradle-to-cradle. The school consists of workshops, experimental fields, exhibition and seminar rooms, library, studios, co-working, work yard, warehouse, start-up labs, the charter meeting room, café, beer garden, combined heat and power plant, market and housing. The school is a microcosm of the model town. Here, craftsmen, artists and scientists learn, live and work together on the questions of the future, testing and modeling autonomous systems. The school grounds are not a fenced enclave, but part of the city; a new service road crosses the campus, connecting all the school's public spaces and opening them up to the surrounding town. The pupils thus research and live in community with the townspeople, integrated into the society they serve.