How might places serving the community look and function in the future? How can a building project add social and civic value? We are breaking new ground in urban planning to develop a new neighborhood in Lörrach.
What makes a place worth living in? Where is the unused and overlooked potential of how we live together?
When an urban planning project comes along, no one is better placed to answer these questions than the people who actually live in the neighborhood in question. But this local knowledge is not usually taken into account when building projects are conceived.
The Schöpflin Foundation wants to demonstrate that there is a different way to do urban planning.
When we decided to develop a 15,000-square-meter brownfield site opposite the Foundation's headquarters in Lörrach’s Brombach district, we looked for alternative approaches to urban development. We wanted to do this for our region – but also ensure that it has an impact further afield as well.
Using a creative participatory planning process, the neighbors of the future Schöpflin Quarter, Schöpflin Foundation employees and all interested parties were asked for their ideas and wishes for the site. The overall thrust of the results showed that there was a desire for a place of community that emphasizes togetherness.
Until the Schöpflin Quarter project is complete, we invite you to come together to use the space as it currently exists. With its projects, film evenings, play activities for children and a community garden, the area on Franz-Ehret-Strasse is already a place of civic involvement and togetherness - a participatory space for everyone!
FABRIC-Area in Lörrach-Brombach | Photo: Lucia Hofmaier
In English the word "FABRIC" has various meanings, including "structure", "textiles" or indeed "fabric", as in “cloth”. But at the same time, as a verb, its meaning can also be "to weave", "to build" or "to construct". In 2017, we chose the term “FABRIC” to describe a process that focuses on weaving people and their ideas together to develop a new urban quarter out of a piece of wasteland in the Brombach district of Lörrach.
"FABRIC" symbolizes the strengthening of the social fabric in our town and the creation together of something new. At the same time, the term is also a nod to the region’s textile industry heritage, which also played a decisive role in shaping the Schöpflin family.
In terms of the planning process, "FABRIC" has two clear meanings. Firstly it represents the so-called "Wishlist Planning Project", in which the people of Lörrach were invited to submit their wishes and ideas for the new neighborhood. Secondly, it represents the interim use of the site, which embodies the idea of networking and participation and invites the people of Brombach to come along and get involved.
Photo: Lucia Hofmaier
In April 2018, the FABRIC team launched a participatory, creative planning process in Lörrach which we called the ‘Wishlist’ planning process. As part of this process neighbors, Lörrach residents, Schöpflin Foundation employees, and guests were invited to submit their wishes and ideas for the neighborhood. In our ‘Planning Kiosk’ - set up specifically for this purpose - people had numerous creative – playful even - tools at their disposal. They could draw, paint, knead, build, or conceive the future of the site as a soundtrack ... or simply dream of what might be.
After six months of the "Wishlist” planning process, the FABRIC team had collected over 1,600 ideas and suggestions. The results showed that the issue of housing is a key concern of the people of Lörrach and Brombach. Many people expressed a desire for affordable housing; but the results of the process also reflected people’s desire for alternative and communal forms of living.
Particularly noteworthy were the other needs and interests that people also expressed. These included: a desire for places to meet and do some DIY or hobbies; new forms of community and engagement; a café-like space where there is no obligation to make a purchase; food; opportunities for play and exercise; and the quality of the outdoor space.
The results of the Wishlist planning process show the power of an approach that is "bottom-up" rather than "top-down". This approach not only produces the best ideas and most creative solutions, but also, as a collaborative process, has at its center the communal and a sense of the public spirit. In this way, the "knowledge of the many" serves to "benefit the many".
Photo: Lucia Hofmaier
Already on offer on the site
It will be some time before the first buildings are built on the site between Franz-Ehret-Strasse and Schopfheimer Strasse in Brombach. To shorten the waiting time and to whet people's appetites for what will be built there in the future, we invite everyone to use the site now and to join us in implementing ideas and projects to the benefit of the neighborhood.
In recent years and in response to public demand, various free play facilities have been created on the site: there’s the popular Bobby-car racetrack, a table tennis table and a boules court, as well as many other exercise opportunities - for young and old alike. Since the summer of 2021, children's eyes have lit up at the so-called children's construction site: it’s equipped with construction helmets and wheelbarrows – so children can play at become master builders.
The ‘Planning Kiosk’ and the Open-Air Workshop are both available on the Franz-Ehret-Strasse site – and are easy to use. The Planning Kiosk, which has a covered terrace, can be booked for anything from a chess club training session or a project meeting through to the senior citizens' coffee-and-chat gathering.
We also have the GartenFABRIC site - a community garden available to all where local people are very welcome to come and garden together, experiment and harvest whatever they grow.
Requests to use the Planning Kiosk or to garden with us should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustration: Lucia Hofmaier
Whether it's gardening together in the GartenFABRIC, heating up the pizza oven on a regular basis, or the musical jam sessions every Tuesday from 6 p.m. at the Planning Kiosk, we welcome everyone who wants to join us and help shape the interim use on the site!
But we also give people the opportunity to put their own ideas and projects for Brombach into practice. To this end, we have set aside a budget (our so-called ‘join in’ budget) for 2023 of 6,000 euros. Applicants can apply for a one-off grant of a maximum of 500 euros per project.
Please send project ideas and grant applications to fabric@ Alternatively, drop into the Planning Kiosk on the FABRIC site in Franz-Ehret-Strasse. schoepflin-stiftung.de
You can download more information about the FABRIC Join-In Budget here.
Photo: Alena Halmes
Armed with the wishes and ideas from the "Wishlist” process, the Schöpflin Foundation started a cooperative planning process in which the "knowledge of the many" continues to provide great added value. The wishes and ideas were condensed into a program for the site, which served as the basis for the next stage of the planning process.
The Schöpflin Foundation also chose a rather unusual approach when it came to the urban planning process: instead of a classic competition, here too we used a collaborative planning method. The goal was to develop – through dialog with experts - a sympathetic urban planning solution and to distribute the various uses and activities wisely across the site. A team of four international architectural firms - BeL Sozietät für Architektur from Cologne, ifau Institut für angewandte Urbanistik from Berlin, Clauss Merz from Basel and NL Architects from Amsterdam - worked together with landscape architects, mobility experts and energy and climate experts over a period of six months to develop the urban design for the site.
We also set up a project advisory board, which was actively involved in the whole process. The board was chaired by Prof. Dr Christiane Thalgott, a former Munich city planning councilor. Other board members were Markus Müller, President of the Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Architects; representatives of the Schöpflin Foundation; our local mayor, Monika Neuhöfer-Avdic; and Brombach's town council leader, Silke Herzog.
The process was led by the Basel project development company, denkstatt sàrl.
Photo: Lucia Hofmaier
We envisage that the Schöpflin Quarter will incorporate a mixture of very different uses, all of which emphasize civic encounters and togetherness. Living accommodation will play an important role in the future Schöpflin Quarter. At the same time, public use of the spaces on the site will create added value both for the residents of the Quarter and for the residents of Brombach and Hauingen in general.
The Quarter will incorporate apartments for between 80 to 100 people in various of the site’s buildings. The design of the accommodation will be based on the ideas of affordable living space as well as intergenerational, family-friendly and communal living. All of the buildings will be located in a park that offers publicly accessible and inviting open spaces with opportunities for exercise and play. And finally, the Schöpflin Foundation headquarters will also be housed on the site.
A basic principle for the design of the new Quarter is to reduce to a minimum the private spaces in favor of communal spaces that can be used by everyone. In concrete terms, this means that there will be co-working spaces and work studios, as well as workshop rooms that can be used jointly, as well as accessible roof areas, and outdoor facilities and garden areas. The Quarter will also benefit from shared infrastructure, including mobility options intended to make it easier for people to live without the need for a private car. There will also be other shared facility options, such as tools and equipment and other everyday items.
In this way, this jointly planned neighborhood will become a place of civic encounters and togetherness - and thus fulfill the vision of the Quarter becoming part of the "city of the future" concept, something that was referenced in the majority of the 1,600 wishes submitted by the people of the neighborhood.
Illustration: Lucia Hofmaier
Based on the results of the urban planning process, the existing development plan is now being revised in consultation with the city of Lörrach and the municipal committees. In parallel to this, the actual planning and design of the first buildings will begin.
The next step will also involve the planning of the fine detail for the site. We’ll be considering issues such as: the site’s user concept, and who might be suitable tenants for the commercial space. These and other questions will be addressed by the Schöpflin Foundation in the coming months.
The first buildings are not expected to be completed until 2026 at the earliest. The site will be planned and developed in several stages.
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Dr. Constanze Wehner has been working for the Schöpflin Foundation since 2017. Initially, she headed the program area "Schools & Development", and in 2020 she took over the responsibility for the realization of the Schöpflin School. Since 2021, she has been responsible for the participation project FABRIC and the planning process for the new "Schöpflin Quarter" in Lörrach-Brombach. Before joining the Schöpflin Foundation, she was a research assistant at the Claussen-Simon Foundation in Hamburg and completed her PhD at the Faculty of Education at the University of Hamburg. In January 2023 Constanze joined the Executive Board of the Schöpflin Foundation.