COMMUNITY SMART EVOLUTION
A. Nowadays the village is composed of separate houses. Those houses are final destinations of peoples’ movement trajectories in the village, making Urleben look desolated, B. We propose creating a network of ‘open houses’, that would establish an urban common ground. Creating a newly rediscovered common ground within a homogeneous tissue of Urleben is crucial for its development.
EVOLUTION OF RESOURCES AND OF FUNCTIONAL LAYOUT
C. Separate multi-generational houses, that used to serve as big-family houses, small farms and factories connected to small agricultural production now create an archipelago of desolated volumes of forgotten potential. Various functions – related to life and work – are disconnected from each other, D. Creating a common ground enables circular economy, productive distribution of resources (time, knowledge, space, real estate etc.) and more efficient functional layout. Establishing new connections between detached buildings and functional clusters provides opportunities to produce a multi-threaded, self-sustaining and solidary urban settlement.
Existing urban situation of Urleben is defined as an archipelago of isolated houses enclosed around grand courtyards. Each housing group seems like a fortress, possibly with rich social life and captivating appearance, unfortunately invisible for a passer-by. This urban archipelago does not promote neither social integration or solidarity, nor creating a strong local community. New visibility and stronger connections between inhabitants are necessary in Urleben: due to its aging demography the village needs to rethink its system of interconnections between people and functions and make it self-supporting. We hope to connect the courtyards into a newly defined network of public and semi-public spaces, where neighbors can meet, strengthen their social bonds, work together or share their knowledge or resources.
E. In the past, all the houses in Urleben worked like ‘individual companies’ – each house produced, processed, managed and sold its crops or other produce. People were working in the village and for the village, making Urleben productive and full of life., F. Recently, due to changing demography, technology and work situation most people from Urleben stopped working their fields – going for retirement or choosing other professions. 90 % of the working people from Urleben is traveling to work outside of the village. That made the village ‘unproductive’, the social bonds broken and public life invisible.
The most important aim of Urleben productive strategy is to provide a platform for cooperation, where resources, knowledge and time can be interchanged. G. The scheme of future productive strategy of Urleben that seeks analogies with the past, but as well enrolling new technologies and guidelines for sustainable lifestyle. We envision new Urleben as a settlement, where groups of vernacular buildings form smaller communities (just as individual houses did before). Those new building groups establish new businesses that work within circular economy scheme, where well-being, quality and sustainability are as important as economic profits. The village groups can interchange knowledge, time and resources so that waste becomes a vital element in produce chain, making Urleben a showcase for ‘zero waste’ strategy in urban scale.
We intend to make Urleben productive in various aspects: urban, communal / social; but also concerning Urleben’s resources, its real estate base and attention it gets in the region.
A. Our strategy for Urleben is productive in terms of urban scale and architectural tissue, because it changes a homogeneous ‘fortress’ into a permeable settlement.
B. The strategy is productive in terms of community-making, because it brings people together, bonding them around functions, spaces and values. Sharing an eco-ethos, a new Urleben community is empathetic and solidary with its diverse members.
C. The strategy is productive also in terms of its efficient use of local resources. What is now seen as a production ‘waste’ can be transformed into a produce of another branch of demand-and-supply chain, therefore enclosing the loop of circular economy and zero-waste strategy.
REAL ESTATE BASE
D. Making a local base of real estate productive means effectively managing it. We propose analyzing and mapping potentials of creating co-living structures or houses with new public functions within existing urban tissue. We see that the existing spatial usage could be optimized and easily injected with more inhabitants and functions.
Instead of tourism-oriented revitalization of Urleben, we propose giving it a specialization in circular sustainability and eco-living within tight-knit community.
E. When working on productivity strategies and supporting business models for Urleben we analyzed most visible problems of the village. Diagnosing those in various aspects of the village structure we treated them as challenges. By adding appropriate operators, methods and technologies we made them work in Urleben’s favor.
We propose three sustainable scenarios that enhance local potential and create original
and vernacular economic strategies, which could also strengthen local community.
CHALLENGE: HOMOGENEOUS, MONOTONOUS FUNCTIONAL LAYOUT
SOLUTION: VERNACULAR RESTAURANT WITH ZERO-WASTE PHILOSOPHY
Truly local restaurant is established by: local experts, knowing the surrounding context, its re-sources and culinary traditions; emerging chefs, who come to Urleben to learn, experiment and test the definitions of locality in culinary world; investor or investment fund, who is interested in creating a new itinerary that is driven by specific eco-ethos. The restaurant would be accompanied by a lab for professionals, permanent culinary school and space for short-term workshops and a smart farm, all established to promote nose-to-tail approach in regional cuisine of Turingen. Locating restaurant in one of the courtyard buildings would give it very authentic and welcoming feel – as if somebody would invite us to his/her own home.
CHALLENGE: DETERIORATING URBAN TISSUE
SOLUTION: VERNACULAR ECO-MATERIALITY WORKSHOP WITH ITS TESTING GROUND
We propose using straw, hemp and mushrooms (locally sourced crops) to experiment with new building materials and techniques and use them to renovate deteriorating buildings of the village, creating an urban ‘showroom’ of conscious innovation. The workshop is established by: local producers of the material – the material used is often perceived as a production waste from other agricultural processes, that is why there is no need for new producers of the materials; specialized tutor or partner from close-by university, who is willing to experiment and research characteristics of new eco-materials; local curator, who is managing the cooperation process and surveilling the eco-renovation of Urleben. The workshop would also need an outside investor or a group forming a co-op. The whole company, due to its ecology and innovation oriented profile, could use the transparent and just structure of co-op to market itself as a truly sustainable and fair organization. The co-op would be an innovation in a market of conscious renovation and construction. Besides finding new ways to use agricultural waste in building sector and closing the loop of circular econ-omy scheme of the region, the aim of eco-materiality workshop is to find the most efficient new material that can be used in local context to renovate Urleben buildings.
CHALLENGE: DIMINISHING DEMOGRAPHICS AND AGING COMMUNITY OF URLEBEN
SOLUTION: SOLIDARITY HOME – MUTUAL DAYCARE CENTER FOR ELDERLY AND CHILDREN
To attract younger people to Urleben the village must ensure housing base and attractive local landscape (that it already has) and daycare for small children (that it is lacking). Even if the work-place is outside of the village, basic functions – such as daycare – should be within the walking distance. After analyzing Urleben situation we also see the need of providing the elderly with healthcare assistance and social activity stimulation. That is why we propose to join those functions together into a mutual daycare center. The solidarity house is thought as a local center where active elderly people can look after the local children (while their parents are working), all provided with professional support and healthcare assistance. The Solidarity home could be located in one of the abandoned courtyard buildings – conveniently enclosed (therefore safe and surveilled), complex and integrated into vernacular urban tissue.
FINANCING & OWNERSHIP STRATEGY
A round table should be set up to bring together players from the financial sector, municipalities, foundations and expert citizens. The financing sector should be represented by banks that have already realized that the future lies in glocalisation, sustainability and resilience.
APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH EXISTING STRUCTURES
A. Existing situation: currently the gap between existing buildings is closed with a very high gate – almost a wall, leaving interior courtyard life invisible for passers-by. We propose getting rid of the high gates to establish longer perspectives and visible connections with courtyard interiors.
B. High wall could be changed into a lower and more openwork fence that shows what is behind it. Then the gap between buildings can host a lush greenery zone, a small orchard or a permaculture garden.
C. To create a pocket public square it is possible to push the lower fence back into the housing site and use the front zone for common good. We propose adding greenery or street furniture that would enable neighbors to meet and socialize in pleasant outdoor conditions.
APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH EXISTING BUILDINGS AND EXISTING STRUCTURES:
D. We can also introduce architectural volumes in gaps between buildings. But instead of them forming an impermeable wall, the added architecture should create a bridge or an extruded gate. The new volume can be a simple extrude of surrounding buildings with cut-out ground floor left for unobstructed entrance to the courtyard.
E. Another version of ‘the bridge’ building is playing with a typical shape of the house, providing more living space and vistas from the first floor.
F. ‘The living bridge’ could also compose of volumes of different heights, providing more living space and therefore being appropriate for families with more members.
G. The last version of ‘the living bridge’ is bigger, but with a small arcade that lets visitors inside the courtyard. Nevertheless, it provides visual contact between inside and outside of the building block.
APPROACHES TO HOUSING FORMS
A. Existing building with a big gate, B. To let the public domain into courtyards, we transform gates into outdoor corridors., C. The new gate as a cut-out in urban tissue.
D. Existing situation, E. Housing units are on the ground floor with greenhouse or workshop on top, F. Housing units for the elderly are on the ground floor. Additional units for younger people are on the first floor are accessed from the gallery. The tilted roof is equipped with solar panels.
G. Existing situation: abandoned building that needs repairing., H. The repairs are done with new eco-materials that are produced within Urleben innovative workshop. The contrast of materials creates contemporary bricolage., I. The building could be composed of parts made of different materials. One could be a greenhouse, the other made with straw-bale technique or other eco-material, all of them filling harmoniously and efficiently with existing tissue.
HOUSING STRUCTURAL TYPOLOGIES
J. Typical building in Urleben, K. New volumes could be introduced into existing barns as stacked towers of contemporary functions and qualities., L. New volumes are arranged inside the existing outline in a structural way, creating a common space in the middle of the building, M. Rearranging housing structure within a traditional building volume of Urleben can happen in many ways. One of them can be dividing an existing volume into narrow and multi-story townhouses. This solution is good for young families, because it can create efficient spatial narrative on limited square footage., N. Another option is a classic division of the living space – separate apartments on the ground and first floor of the building, possibly with individual outside entrances to the top floor’s flats, O. Existing volumes could also fit co-living structures, where inhabitants share common facilities, but maintain their separate private space.
NEW VERNACULAR BUILDING’S PRINCIPLES
P. A pitched roof as a device for harvesting rain water and energy from solar panels. A traditional form, equipped with sustainable technologies, reduces building’s footprint and make it more sustainable, R. Light wooden framework – typical for local architecture – can be applied also in new buildings, making them easily rearrangeable and therefore resilient., S. Infill of the framework could become a testing ground for new eco-technologies. We propose insulating and finishing the building for example with straw bale bricks and clay. By using those eco-techniques in building sector Urleben could become a showroom of sustainable green innovation., T. Lightweight inside divisions of rooms make the new buildings in Urleben resilient and feasible to adapt.
STRATEGIES FOR LOCAL ECOLOGIES
UNSEALING THE VILLAGE FOR COOLING EFFECT
A. In the case of newly created recreational and movement areas, attention should be paid to reducing the amount of sealing – for example, by seepage-capable joints of reused paving stones, gravel areas or an increase in the proportion of green areas.
INTRODUCING PERMEABLE SURFACES
B. We propose various levels of permeability when dealing with Urleben’s surfaces. All of them are necessary to provide functional trajectories, natural connectivity and weather resiliency: B1. Paving, B2. Gravel, B3. Green
UNSEALED SURFACE AND INTEGRATION RAINWATER USAGE
C. Rainwater runoff from sealed surfaces and roofs should be consistently collected and used. The aim is to achieve 100% management of the precipitation water on site. Excess runoff should be throttled and transferred to the natural runoff. Rainwater that is collected in cisterns is made directly accessible to the residents for further use as service water., D. Revitalizing the ditches can also make better use of rainwater. By reshaping the land and making it more permeable we can create attractive and eco-efficient water gardens.
REINFORCING LOCALITY BY REUSING LOCAL RESOURCES
E. Local resources of various kinds are used to build and maintain the village life. We use wood structures to build new volumes, crops’ waste to make eco-insulation and alternative energy sources to use it within the local grid.
REUSE OF LOCAL MATERIAL FOR PAVING
F. Surface pavements should preferably be made of recycled paving materials (natural, slag, concrete blocks) of local origin, which can be made available through reconstruction or upgrading measures.
G. We propose introducing community gardens, where people can actively and collectively spend time revitalizing their village.
APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH EXISTING PUBLIC SPACES
CASE STUDY 1
A. Existing situation with enclosed buildings and courtyards invisible from street-level. The paving is impermeable. There is no greenery or street furniture creating public spots or engaging spatial narratives., B. Revitalization proposal: the gates are opened or dismounted, with courtyards transformed into community-oriented spaces plugged into a new network of public spaces. The facades of houses are transformed so they form arcades or external patios for public functions, while roofs are covered with solar panels. The paving is made permeable with greenery pockets and seating zones. Trees are planted to compose multi-plan perspectives.
CASE STUDY 2
C. Street of ‘hostile’ appearance and standardized greenery, D. A revitalized street with opened gates and alternated house facades enabling public life. Solar panels are located on roofs, providing energy for public areas and facilities. Greenery is densified and diversified. Street furniture is added along the way, creating convenient pit-stops for the elderly.
CASE STUDY 3
E. Current state of typical courtyard of an abandoned, municipality-owned house., F. Revitalized courtyard with new perimeter public functions. Existing buildings are revitalized and transformed into a set of welcoming, permeable spaces, probably with pro-public businesses on the ground floor. The roofs are furnished with solar panels, skylights or built-in terraces.
CASE STUDY 4
A. Existing state of green area on the periphery of the settlement – fenced and homogeneous., B. Newly structuralized arrangement of productive landscape and supporting infrastructure, which can also serve as educational facility. The new agricultural arrangement forms an original public space, which besides being picturesque is also productive and educational.
CASE STUDY 5
C. Current street situation with closed gate, D. The gate’s contour is extruded to create a welcoming street furniture: a seat with small roof. Permeability of Urleben is increased by adding more biotope spaces – here in form of a longitudinal, hardened but green walking path.
CASE STUDY 6
A GREEN PLAZA
The long table – partially covered with lightweight roof– can serve for community meetings, but also during the local markets and festivals as vendors’ table. Upper level of the pocket park is accessible by stairs (and ramp from the other side of the path). We located there an outdoor gym for the elderly, motivating them to exercise in pleasant and discreet environment.
CASE STUDY 7
COMMON SPACES – NEW BUS STOP
The revitalized square has a bus stop on the other end. The new pavilion is equipped with big comfortable bench and a bike parking with charging station for e-bikes and e-scooters.
PERSPECTIVE A. View of the experimental garden that is a part of eco-restaurant initiative.
The tables are arranged between various forms of farming methods, emphasizing authenticity
of the culinary concept.
PERSPECTIVE B. First floor of a revitalized existing building is transformed into an innovative lab, where students learn about new and traditional food growing and preparing techniques.
From the lab – through the glass floor – the culinary students and interns can see their guests and check their reactions on eco-food.
PERSPECTIVE C. Interior view of the eco-workshop with showroom wall made of various eco-materials, such as straw bale, fungi or produce rest – all sourced from local farmlands. The hall can host presentations and workshops regarding Urleben work-in-progress sustainable technologies.
PERSPECTIVE D. Axonometric view of the new building – eco technologies workshop. It is
the eco-technologies showroom with an open workshop, where innovations for building sector are tested and prepared to be implemented in the urban tissue of Urleben. The workshop also hosts a small hotel that lets its visitors to experience living in a sustainable eco-house.
PERSPECTIVE E. The interior of revitalized solidarity house – a mutual daycare center.
The building is designed in a way that in provides longer perspectives and attractive vistas.