What will cities need in the future? What is it that’s special about a particular place? What potential has been overlooked or not yet fulfilled? No one has more experience of a particular place or neighbourhood than the people who use it on a daily basis and live there. And yet more often than not this type of local knowledge is completely overlooked in the normal planning and building process. At the moment our towns and cities are shaped by just a handful of people. The Schöpflin Foundation wants to demonstrate that the planning and building process can be done in a different way.
To prove the point, we have commissioned the artist, Christoph Schäfer, to design and implement a planning process for our site opposite the Schöpflin Villa.
In April 2018 we launched the »what-would-you-like-to-see-happen« platform - designed in such a way that people could all learn from each other. The platform stimulated new ideas; encouraged an exchange of ideas from people of different backgrounds and with different experiences; and ultimately facilitated a joint, community planning process. In order to reach everyone in the community, the project team built a pavilion, the »PlanKiosk«, which incorporated all manner of fun and hands-on tools that made it easy for people to think outside the box and potentially break new ground. After six months the FABRIC team had gathered more than 1,600 ideas and suggestions from local people. These ideas and suggestions were published in February 2019: the condensed comments and sketches were publicly exhibited. The first interim-use designs were then trialled in the summer of 2019. These included a public bookcase; a large children’s sandpit; a table tennis table for all; and the popular toy-car racing circuit.
The next step was for the Schöpflin Foundation and the FABRIC team to work with »denkstatt« – a Basel-based company that transforms and repurposes former industrial sites. At the beginning of November 2019, this team produced a feasibility study on the future uses of the site that was then presented to Lörrach town council. The idea is for five different types of use to be interwoven on the FABRIC site in Brombach. The building at the centre of the site will house features such as a community cafeteria; a no-purchase-obligation café; small commercial workshops; an ice cream parlour; a community kitchen and various community workshop rooms. Three other uses include: various accommodation units; new teaching facilities; and a large amount of open public space where people can move around easily and children can play. And lastly, the intention is that the Schöpflin Foundation offices – currently in Haagen – should move to the new site.
The Swiss Architecture Museum (S AM) is advising the Foundation on the design of the process.
As a ground-breaking project the idea is that the FABRIC initiative should demonstrate how local knowledge can give a new direction and dimension to future town planning and development projects. The ultimate aim is for the process to be picked up and applied to other future projects, both within the region – but also further afield.