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This intervention has been translated into a brief governance scenario. Take a look at Envisioning and co-creating sustainable urban neighborhoods by reaching across institutional boundaries.

a) Basic characteristics and ambitions of the intervention

1. What is the name and the urban context (e.g. city/district) of the intervention? Please also indicate the geographical scale of the intervention (e.g. neighborhood, district, small/medium/ capital city, metropolitan area ...). [Example: “Brixton Energy in Brixton, London (neighborhood in capital city)”]

The intervention addresses the eco-district of Vauban, specifically the co-housing project Genova, in the city of Freiburg, Germany. It has been developed at the scale of a neighborhood or city district in a regional hub (Freibrug has 220 000 inhabitants).

The intervention aimed to co-create and design a sustainable neighborhood providing inclusive and affordable housing adapted to the needs and the will of the local population.

2. What sector(s) (alias domain/ policy field) is the intervention primarily implemented in ? [e.g. housing, mobility, energy, water, health, local economy, biodiversity, CC adaptation, etc.]

This intervention is primarily implemented in the sectors of housing and urban development (i.e. building/establishing a new district).

3. What is the intervention (i.e. situated experiment) aiming to achieve in terms of sustainability and justice? [If possible, please copy from a project website and give a reference]

The intervention (co-housing in Vauban and Genova’s case) aimed to establish a sustainable, ecological and green district while implementing participatory planning and cooperative ownership (TRANSIT_01: 5). Ecological and social objectives such as inclusiveness and affordable housing as well as walkable pathways, car-free areas, green areas and low-energy buildings are embedded in the project (TRANSIT_01: 6).

“social and ecological goals and standards have been set from the beginning as part of the official guidelines by the City of Freiburg: compulsory low energy standard for new buildings, connection to the tram network until 2006, rain infiltration on the very territory, socially mixed inhabitant structure and a priority of giving away land to private builder-owners and collective building projects (Life-Projekt) (TRANSIT_16).

4. What is the interventions’ timeframe?

Co-housing projects in Vauban started after the withdrawal of the french military troops from the military barracks in 1992. Specifically, Genova housing cooperative was founded in 1997 and the first tenants moved in Genova I in 1999 and in Genova II in 2001 (Table 5.1. Timeline and development of Vauban_TRANSIT_01: 8). other projects have been developed since then.

5. By what governance mode is the intervention characterized primarily? (see Appendix 1: Three modes of governance)

The intervention is characterized by a hybrid-governance mode and includes top-down and bottom-up planning.

6. Why do you consider it worthwhile to study and share experiences made in the context of this governance intervention for sustainable and just cities?[1]

provides an interesting example of negotiated governance between a grassroot-initiatives and the municipality that reaches across institutional boundaries.

7. In which project deliverable(s) or other documents can information be found on this situated (i.e. place specific) governance intervention?

b) Additional basic characteristics, links to earlier UrbanA work

8. EU Project-context of the intervention:

  • a. Has the intervention been developed or studied in the context of an (EU-funded?) project? (please name the project, its duration and include a link to the project website here).

Yes, the intervention has been studied in the context of the EU-funded project TRANSIT (2014-2017).[2] The project aims to develop a new theory on Transformative Social Innovation (TSI) which refers to “a process of changes in social relations, involving the challenging, altering and/or replacing of dominant institutions and structures”. The project aims to draft a manifesto for TSI that sheds light on initiatives and emerging movements for TSI and can inspire policy makers, social entrepreneurs, academics and other stakeholders.

  • b. According to WP3’s database of approaches, which approach(es) does the intervention best fit under? Where applicable, please indicate if the intervention is found in a project that has been explicitly mentioned in the database.

The intervention best fits under the Co-living, co-housing & intentional communities approach and TRANSIT project is explicitly mentioned in the database. In addition, the intervention addresses the Governance and participation processes approach as well as the Sharing and cooperatives for urban commons approach.

  • c. Have some project deliverables been coded in the context of UrbanA’s WP4?

Yes, the project has been coded in the framework of WP4 but not the intervention itself.

9. Problematization and priority:

  • a. How exactly has inequality and exclusion been problematized (by whom) in the context of this intervention?

Inequality and exclusion has been problematized both by the (prospective) residents of the district (in the framework of citizens organizations including Forum Vauban, SUSI, other citizen groups or cooperatives...) and by the municipality of Freiburg inview of creating an inclusive ecodistrict with affordable housing.

Specifically, to make GENOVA co-housing more inclusive, the cooperative is even regulating the pricing structure, reducing house rents for targeted groups i.e. “elderly people and long-term members, as well as persons with the right to social housing, so called Wohnberechtigungsschein” (TRANSIT_01: 36).

  • b. Has the achievement of justice explicitly been named as a major motivation behind the intervention?

The achievement of justice has explicitly been named as a major motivation behind the intervention and focuses on affordable housing and citizens self-planning and management: “(Vauban) is an ecological, sustainable district which has consciously set itself social objectives such as inclusiveness and affordable housing, as well as short distances” (TRANSIT_01: 6) ; “affordable housing, planned and managed by its residents” (TRANSIT_01: 16) ; “the goal of which was to create ecological living space based on the principles of social justice and self-organization” (TRANSIT_01: 24).

In addition, “The City of Freiburg as the owner of the territory of Vauban is responsible for its planning and opening up for development. In the course of this, social and ecological goals and standards have been set from the beginning as part of the official guidelines by the City of Freiburg: compulsory low energy standard for new buildings, connection to the tram network until 2006, rain infiltration on the very territory, socially mixed inhabitant structure and a priority of giving away land to private builder-owners and collective building projects (Life-Projekt) (TRANSIT_01: 16).

Drivers of injustices Based on WP4 coding Based on own assessment
1. Exclusive access to the benefits of sustainability infrastructure X
2. Material and livelihood inequalities
3. Racialized or ethnically exclusionary urbanization
4. Uneven and exclusionary urban intensification and regeneration X
5. Uneven environmental health and pollution patterns
6. Unfit institutional structures
7. Limited citizen participation in urban planning X
8. Lack of effective knowledge brokerage and stewardship opportunities
9. Unquestioned Neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism
10. Weak(ened) civil society

c) Actor constellations

10. Who initiated the intervention?

The intervention was initiated by citizens i.e. primarily the citizen-lead initiative Forum Vauban and the Independent Housing Projects -SUSI, and supported by the municipality of Freiburg in a view to building a new district:

“After the departure of the military (1992), the Vauban district was designed and rebuilt anew during a unique citizen-involvement process – for which it has been awarded several times – by the City of Freiburg together with the citizen-lead association ‘Forum Vauban’ as a bottom-up actor with a mandate in the Vauban city planning council (TRANSIT_01: 5). “When the City of Freiburg decided to build the new district in 1993, the citizen-lead initiative of Forum Vauban had already been active in setting up their plans and visions about how to build the district in a “green”, sustainable and participatory way (Transit_01: 24).

11. Who are the envisioned benefiters of the intervention? (both at a local level and higher, if applicable)

The envisioned benefiters of the intervention are the (prospective) residents of Vauban and more broadly, the residents of Freiburg who can potentially move into affordable and ecological housing. The municipality of Freiburg also benefits from the reputation of the district and uses it as “green flag” in urban marketing strategies to enhance the attractivity of the city (TRANSIT_01: 27).

12. Who else is (going to be) involved in the intervention, and what was/is their main role?

Actor types[3] Yes Actor name and role[4]
Academic organizations
Religious organizations
Civil society organizations X
  • Forum Vauban (citizen-led organization)
  • Co-housing cooperatives (e.g. SUSI ; Genova e.g. ; Vaubanaise e.g….).
  • Baugruppen (e.g. Wohnen&Arbeiten ; Woge e.V. etc…) (Table 5.2: co-housing and other important projects in Vauban_TRANSIT_01: 13)
  • Other initiatives among others : Autofreies Wohnen e.V. The association organises car-free mobility in Vauban ; Quartierladen e.G. is a cooperative supermarket for local organic food supply ; Kinderabenteurh of Freiburg e.V. an associative kindergarten ; Villaban with Restaurant Kantine which is a restaurant organizing joint cooking events.
Hybrid/ 3rd sector organizations
Social movements
Political parties
Social entreprises
For profit entreprises
Local/regional government X
  • The municipality of Freiburg

Specifically, the “Vauban city planning council (GRAG)”. It refers to a committee inside the city council (i.e. a working group of the city council and the urban planning department of the city) which has been created to plan the new district of Vauban and to work together with citizen groups (TRANSIT_01: 33).

Regional organizations
National government
Supranational government
International networks
Other initiatives

13. Which particular interactions among various stakeholders (stakeholder configurations) were crucial in enabling the intervention to emerge successfully? This could include direct or indirect impacts on interventions.

The (relatively) good collaboration between the citizen-led organizations and the municipality was crucial in enabling the intervention to emerge successfully. The project emerged from the collaboration between the City of Freiburg and Forum Vaudan, a citizen group. Whereas the municipality intended to plan a new district meeting the extremely high demand on living space in Freiburg, Forum Vauban had the vision of an ecological, socially just and self-organized city quarter with lots of green space and affordable housing (TRANSIT_01: 16).

In addition, the city dedicated more public money than usual to set-up the project in a participatory way and officially mandated Forum Vauban for mediating the process and assisting them (e.g. with the distribution of building lots) (TRANSIT_01: 23).

14. To what extent, in what form and at what stages have citizens participated in the shaping of the intervention?

Citizens were the drivers of the co-housing projects, especially the Forum Vauban and the SUSI. Citizens engaged in visioning and planning the distinct but also in building it (e.g. the Baugruppen) (TRANSIT_01: 16).

When the project of rebuilding a new district arose (1992-1993), self-organized citizens were invited to share their vision of the district: “The Forum Vauban (working as an open forum) invited, organized, and coordinated professional expertise around planning, ecological housing, funding and forms of ownership brought in by interested citizens” ; “This could be realized because the city of Freiburg agreed and provided a frame and organizational innovations to cooperate with the citizen lead Forum Vauban. From this platform emerged various building groups, some of which came up with the idea of cooperative building (TRANSIT_01: 17).

In addition, students of architecture - on a voluntary basis - initiated and facilitated the process of developing utilization plans. (TRANSIT_01: 17).

Finally, “the citizen-initiative was the driving force in establishing participatory planning and “learning while planning” methods” (TRANSIT_01: 18).

15. How are responsibilities and/or decision-making power distributed among actors?

Both citizens and governmental institutions participated in creating the ecodistrict of Vauban. “On the one hand, it was built in a bottom-up process through self-organized housing initiatives of cooperatives and privately organized building groups (Baugruppen). On the other hand, the overall planning of infrastructure, the selling of land property, and the ecological building laws were set-up and coordinated by the government of the City of Freiburg including participatory planning processes with the future residents” (TRANSIT_01: 42).

Citizens groups were responsible for giving visions of the district and participating in the planning and building process while the administration of the City of Freiburg, owner of the land had the responsibility to decide on planning and selling land slots (TRANSIT_01: 33) However, the city opened up its procedures for the citizen’s initiatives and set up the principle of “Planning that Learns” that allows an extended citizen participation.

After the Forum Vauban had successfully applied to the Baden-Württemberg Development Agency (Landesentwicklunggesellschaft LEG) for the governance and financial responsibility of the extended participation, it became coordinating, networking and a consultative partner working hand in hand and in a transparent and consultative way with the “Vauban city planning council (GRAG)” (TRANSIT_01: 33). The latter was responsible for “ creating the necessary infrastructure, taking over a coordinating role, doing the marketing of the territories and the PR work”. The fact that the GRAG was separated from the usual municipal hierarchies and directly assigned to the head of the construction department opened up possibilities for the representatives of the citizenry to directly contribute to the work of this group (TRANSIT_01: 18).

Forum Vauban and then the Stadtteilverein that succeeded after the liquidation of the former wasassigned the responsibility for the “Quartierarbeit” (neighborhood work) which was conceptualized by the municipal Office of social affair and youth. Its work “”consists of providing rooms, organizing events and networking within Vauban amongst the different interest groups, including mediation work” and is a platform for dialogue between citizens and the municipal institutions (TRANSIT_01: 35).

16. Exclusion:

  • a. Which stakeholders or social groups were excluded (at which stages)?

(Please, note that the italicized sections are speculative)

Exclusion of social groups is not mentioned in the documents. However, since participatory planning and the creation of a new neighborhood require time and availability, it can be inferred that working-class dwellers (who sometimes comulate two jobs to meet their living cost) did not have enough time to actively engage in planning the neighborhood and were excluded.

  • b. Is there any indication why this may have happened? With what outcomes? Has anything been done to overcome such exclusions?


d) Enabling conditions for the implementation of the intervention

17. What circumstances or events are reported to have triggered the intervention? (In what ways?)

The circumstances which have reportedly triggered the interventions are :

  • The housing crisis in Freiburg (and co-housing alternative as a response to it).“Because of its attractivity (geographical, cultural, economic hub and university), Freiburg is one of the most expensive cities in Germany in view of the housing price. As a result of the high pressure on the housing market, creative forms of alternative living developed like trailer home communities developed as well as ongoing urban planning activities of the municipality, trying to explore and build new areas and quarters” (TRASIT_01: 7).
  • The eco-minded citizens and local policy makers. This is related to the historical background of the city including its tradition of critical thinkers at the University (e.g. H. Heidegger, H. Arendt) , social movement against the nuclear power plant of Wyhl or left wing policy makers (TRANSIT_01: 7).
  • The opportunity to build a new district from scratch after the departure of the french troops in Vauban in 1992 and the arrival of squatters/ trailer homes.

“The well-educated, collegiate and ecological milieu of Freiburg was in need of housing. The expected liberation of the French Vauban barracks at a central location in Freiburg generated desires and creative ideas. The time span until the sale to the Federal Republic was settled could be used for establishing a professional forum, the Forum Vauban, from within the citizenry from 1994 on. This forum started to develop serious urban planning concepts. At the same time, the area was occupied by a decent number of trailer homes, and a youth centre was taking space in one of the former military caserns” (TRANSIT_01: 8).

18. Are particular substantive (multi-level) governmental policies considered to be highly influential in the genesis and shaping of the intervention? (If easily possible, please specify the policy, the policy field and the governance level mainly addressed, and characterize it along Appendix 2: Policy typology)

Co-housing in Vauban is a part of the cooperative link-up group in Germany (3.8 million are members of housing cooperatives). Cooperative housing in Germany is regulated by the CooperativesAct, first adopted in 1889 and reformed in 2006. It determines the cooperatives’ organizational rules, including their business conduct (TRANSIT_01: 6). The Rent Regulation Act rules the obligations and responsibilities of all landlords of rental dwellings, including housing cooperatives such as rent increases (ICA) (Enkeleda 2011, TRANSIT_01: 6).

Thus, the intervention is framed by regulatory policies framed at the national level and enforced locally. In addition, the municipality conceptualized a legal framework - included in the principle of “Planning that Learns” - that allows citizens to participate in urban development.

In addition, the action undertaken by self-organized citizens such as the open Forum Vanban or the SUSI refers to voluntary policies.

19. What constitutional responsibilities and rules does the intervention build upon? In other words, what rights, powers, and/or responsibilities, does the country's constitution (in a broad sense) award municipalities, states, utilities, NGOs, citizens etc. and how does this impact the intervention?

In Germany, the municipality is responsible for urban planning along the lines of the national regulations (i.e. the urban planning laws and codes). The municipality together with the federal state can allow citizens to participate in urban planning i.e. specifically, the Baden-Württemberg Development Agency gave to Forum Vauban extended governance and financial responsibilities for mediating the participation process. This means that citizen participation in urban planning depends on specific and local regulatory policies.

20. According to project material/and or interviews, in what ways have particularities of (local) political culture influenced the character and success of the intervention? (i.e. trust in political institutions, citizens’ will to interact with policy makers and vice versa, traditions of cooperation etc.)

There is in Freiburg a political culture of ‘eco-minded’ citizens implication in political issues. This includes various protests (i.e. against Wyhl nuclear power plant) and participation in national and local politics. Freiburg was the first city in Germany which voted for a green political majority. Self-organized groups are recognized since some squatters succeeded in building (for) vivid communities (80s).

Regarding the development of Vauban, there were enough people trusting the eco-left Millieu to influence the district development positively, they invested money in Baugruppen and proved that their trust was justified.

21. What are financial arrangements that support the intervention?

The intervention was financially supported by two means :

  • Funds raised and gathered by the citizens.

“It consisted first of all in voluntary work for planning the private houses and furthermore working on concepts for the whole district. Furthermore, Forum Vauban could fundraise several projects because of its special model character, sometimes in cooperation with the city or other official institutions” (TRANSIT_01: .40). Between 1996 and 2002, about EUR 200, 000 were received from the German Federal Foundation for the Environment and from 1997-1999 about EUR 700, 000 from the EU Life environmental program. Memberships, donations and other fees account for the overall budget of Forum Vauban which was managing a budget of 2 million Euro from 1995-2001 (TRANSIT_01: 40). In addition, “on the level of private housing subsidies, the house builders and cooperatives could make use of the so-called Eigenheimzulage, a state subsidy for builder-owners” (TRANSIT_01: 40).

  • Financial support from the city development budget.

The regular process of building a new district financial support was provided for the city administration by the Federal State of Germany. As an urban development project, the Vauban has a specific status and budget (EUR 85,000,000) according to German building law. The city invested all in all 95 million Euros in the district and provided additionally EUR 200, 000 for the participation process (TRANSIT_01: 41).

22. Have any of the above conditions changed within the intervention’s timeframe, which have (significantly) influenced it in a positive or negative way?


Note: Certain contexts, which provide opportunities to learn from other relevant experiences, may also be a supportive framework condition. Please see section h, questions 26 + 30 on learning context.

e) Obstacles to successful intervention implementation

23. What obstacles to implementing the intervention (both generally, and in this particular context) have been identified, relating to:

  • a. Regulatory framework

Disputed destruction of old military barracks that opposed the municipality to the activist/former squatters. For instance, a joint initiative of SUSI- and GENOVA-stakeholders - called Drei5Viertel i.G aiming at renovating three further barrack buildings failed because of the regulatory framework. The stakeholders failed to meet the (tight) municipal deadline for proposing a financing concept (TRANSIT_01: 14) and the barracks were demolished.

Other inhabitants point out the sometimes difficult (and often inconsistent) collaboration with the city administration: “Residents would have preferred that the administration structure and organize the participatory process more actively instead of leaving this role entirely to the citizens themselves” (TRANSIT_01: 26).

  • b. Legitimacy

The collaboration between citizens and the municipality was not always easy because each group had to adapt to the regulating scheme of the others. For instance, when the GRAG invited a representative of Forum Vauban to take over a permanent seat in a consulting role, “Forum Vauban welcomed this decision of the city as a step towards them. Nevertheless they were not always satisfied, because the citizens were expected to adapt to the logic of urban planning which already existed in the city bureaucracy” (TRANSIT_01: 25).

From the perspective of many inhabitants of Vauban, an unjust treatment by the City persists throughout the history of the quarter. In the case of a building lot, a cooperative was given only one year’s time to acquire the necessary means, which it did not manage to do. In another case, a commercial builder was given unlimited time by the city and after protest by Vauban activists two years’ time (Interview VB1). The peak of what inhabitants experience as inadequate treatment is that the city benefits from tourism in Vauban and from the image of Freiburg as a “Green City” (see chapter on green city) which is due mainly to Vauban and its civic activities, without the latter being recognized and appreciated sufficiently (TRANSIT_01: 27).

  • c. Public awareness


  • d. Finances

To some extent, it is reported that activist protests (e.g. resistances to demolition) had lowered the earnings of the city administration: “For instance, when creating a specific trustee account, two million Euros were missing, because ‘Haus 37’ was not demolished and the market place remained non built-up, as a change to the original concept of the city planners” (TRANSIT_01: 26).

In addition, citizens were sometimes lacking experience and financial means to develop the district. As recalls Lehrstuhl (Lehrstuhl für Planungstheorie 2013e, TRANSIT_01: 26): “the quarter is characterized by a mixture of different utilizations such as living and working. However, less commercial areas were developed than had been planned at the beginning. This also resulted in the scheduled number of workplaces not having been met”.

  • e. Others (please name)

Other obstacles include:

  • Contrasting visions of the district development between inhabitants. “While some followed a radical path of squatting houses and initially moved their trailer homes illegally onto the free area left behind by the military. –, others wanted to maintain good contacts with the city council” (TRANSIT_01: 16). Finally, it seems that the different groups involved in the design and development of Vauban managed to cooperate in a productive way to realize this district project due to a great balancing act between innovative visions and the reality of existing city planning laws (TRANSIT_01: 16).
  • Gradual disengagement of the residents.

“When the majority of the houses were built and residents moved in, as ‘normal’ life started, the engagement for the quarter started to diminish” (TRANSIT_01: 23).

  • The liquidation of Forum Vauban. Forum Vauban became bankrupt in 2004 after a lawsuit from the European Commission. It was replaced by the new ‘Stadtteil Verein Vauban e.V.’ (city district association) based on resident members.

f) (Institutional) Work done to overcome obstacles

24. What has been done by each central actor group to overcome which particular obstacles in the way of successfully implementing the intervention? (this may include institutional Work - maintaining, disrupting, and creating new rules, applying to both formal laws/regulations and informal norms and expectations.)

Name of obstacle What work was/is being done to overcome this obstacle and by what actor groups?
Controversies over the destruction of old military barracks by the municipality by the activists, occupations of the barracks and protests.

by the municipality, continued the demolitions.

Liquidation of Forum Vauban by the residents/activists, establishment of “Stadtteilverein” district association (as follow-up organization of Forum Vauban).
Dissensus among residents by the residents, “The different groups involved in the design and development of Vauban managed to cooperate in a productive way to realize this district project due to a great balancing act between innovative visions and the reality of existing city planning laws. The diversity of the district map (including housing cooperatives, groups of private house builders and construction companies) mirrors the different interests and groups and their ‘areas’”(TRANSIT_01: 16)
Gradual disengagement of residents after the completion of building the district, residents spread out to a large variety of projects both inside the district (including “hosting space” for supporting refugees with rooms for german lessons) and outside of the district with the creation of various interest groups with relevance for the entire city and beyond (TRANSIT_01:24).

g) Reported outcomes

25. What are reported outcomes of the intervention? This may include economic outcomes, political outcomes, ability to reach sustainability and justice targets, etc.

Sustainability challenges addressed in Vauban district include:

  • Car-reduced living (including specific external parking lots managed by a “car-free living association”).
  • Energy-efficient housing and low carbon buildings. “The municipality of Freiburg introduced a low energy housing standard for all buildings, namely a maximum of 65kWh/a of the primary energy consumption” (TRANSIT_01: 20).
  • Lots of green areas and amenities

Apply to GENOVA cooperative : “One of the accomplishments of GENOVA in view of affordable living space is the fixing of rental prices for 10 apartments supported by GENOVA by means of the social building program for 10 years. However, after some efforts to choose the beneficiaries itself, GENOVA decided that applicants should have an official document proving their eligibility to receive low cost housing issued by city institutions. After 10 years, they can then receive support for paying their rent by a special social fund created by GENOVA” (TRANSIT_01: 28).

h) Learning involved in establishing the intervention

Please fill in any information on social learning that has occured in this intervention (conceptualized here as “Learning context, content, and process” in line with the FOODLINKS project)[5]. Where possible, please differentiate your response into learning done by specific actor groups.

Learning context

(i.e. the configuration and social environment enabling the learning process)

26. According to the TRANSIT project’s four mechanisms for empowerment – i. funding; ii. legitimacy; iii. knowledge sharing, learning, and peer support; or iv. visibility and identity – please briefly describe the following, and indicate where the intervention has been developed or supported as part of which formal collaborations, networks or projects:

  • a. any previous experiences in the same urban context (e.g. city…) that the intervention is (reportedly) building upon? This could include any relevant experiences in the same or another sector.

(Please, note that italicized sections are speculative)'

Squatting practices by politically “left” groups have inspired and impulsed the intervention. After the withdrawal of the French troops in 1992, squatters settled in some barracks of the military site of Vauban and installed trailer homes. These forms of citizens occupation and the self-organized communities that developed on site (i.e. including a canteen for workers and a kindergarten) gave visibility and legitimacy to citizen-led initiatives. It paved the way for the co-created district to emerge.

  • b. any inter-city partnerships, or transfers from experiences elsewhere that have (reportedly) been important in the emergence of this intervention?

The cooperative movement in Germany has inspired the intervention. The movement is rooted in the 19 century history and the leading figures of Raiffeisen and Schulze-Delitzsch. Cooperative models developed in different sectors (housing, farming, energy) and spread across Europe and especially in Germany during the late 19th and the 20th century. These examples of housing cooperatives in Germany (especially in the the German Federal States of Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Lower Saxony were traditionally large housing cooperatives are more strongly integrated into the urban planning process) and the resources provided by the cooperative link-up groups have reportedly been inspirational for the instigators of the intervention (TRANSIT_01: 6).

Learning content

27. Has any acquired knowledge (e.g. technical knowledge, awareness of local political procedures etc.) been reported as particularly helpful to this intervention?

  • a. from previous experiences in the same urban context


  • b. from inter-city partnerships, or transfers from experiences elsewhere

The intervention acquired knowledge from the other housing cooperative experiences in Germany. Specifically, according to the german regulation, every cooperative has to become a member of a cooperative confederation “in order to be advised, supervised and observed” (TRANSIT_01: 37). GENOVA and Quartiersladen are both members of “Prüfungsverband der kleinen und mittelständischen Genossenschaften e.V.“ (PkmG). This unit audits cooperatives provides support in matters of economy, law and tax policy, and advises on questions of management organisation.

  • c. from other knowledge gathering/research


Learning process

28. In what ways has the intervention been adapted to specific circumstances of the targeted urban context based on the learned content reported in question 27?

On its website, Forum Vauban states: “Learning about participatory planning processes was a key topic in the Vauban process. The principle “Learning while Planning” and the extended citizen participation with Forum Vauban set new standards of communication, interaction and integration” (TRANSIT_01: 37

Through the process of participatory planning, the intervention has been adapted to create manifested houses and infrastructures where some people spend the rest of their lives. The aspect of community building in the early phase with the future neighbours is seen as centrally important: (TRANSIT_01: 38).

29. Based on your answers to question 24, how has overcoming obstacles (reportedly) contributed to the learning process?

The conflicts that opposed the municipality to the residents/activists (e.g. over the demolition of old barracks or over the modalities of the citizens participation) and which were overcome enhanced transparency and mutual trust between both actors and allowed further cooperation.

“The sense of responsibility of the citizens had been strengthened and the disenchantment with politics reduced. Despite occasional conflicts the City of Freiburg and the citizenry see the participatory and cooperative approach as a great gain of the quality and further development of the city quarter of Vauban” (TRANSIT_01: 25).

30. Please list any tools that enabled the learning process (e.g. various Knowledge Brokerage Activities from pg. 24 of FOODLINK’s Deliverable 7.1 - linked in footnote)[6] and the actors involved in using them.

  • For activists (especially at the beginning of the intervention): face-to-face meetings, location where people met (e.g. the student broad office at the university), a print media for information and exchanges namely the “Vauban actuel” district magazine
  • For citizens and municipality cooperation, the “Learning while Planning” participative standards including workshops for co-creating the design of streets and open green spaces as well as excursions that were mediated by mediation of Forum Vauban.
  • About 10 events (including district festivals, international conferences “UrbanVisions” as a pre-event of the UN ‘urban 21”) were co-organized with the City of Freiburg, mainly addressing future house owners, architects, craftsmen, the building industry and financial institutes (TRANSIT_01: 37)

i) Learning involved in establishing interventions elsewhere (transferability)

31. Suggestions regarding transferability.

  • a. Have any suggestions been made about a replicability, scaleability or transferability of the intervention? [e.g. in the documentation of the intervention in a project or the press? Links would be perfect]

Vauban district and the co-housing projects are internationally known and the model “has inspired all over the world in view of sustainable planning especially with regard to citizen involvement” (TRANSIT_01: .6).

“ Vauban’s widespread reputation as a model ecodistrict (e.g. through exhibition at World Expo Shanghai) attracts hordes of visitors from all over the world. A number of organizations offer guided tours to Freiburg’s green city with a special part of Vauban. About 25,000 such technical visitors are counted by the municipal Green City Office each year, most of them from South Korea, France and Italy, many of them politicians or (municipal) technical staff, but many also school children (TRANSIT_01: 38).

“The growing worldwide recognition and dissemination of Vauban as a model-eco district has led to an unexpected phenomenon: more and more interested persons from all over the world have started studying, and visiting Vauban in order to learn more about the details of the district’s development – academia, politicians, technical experts, and even pupils and ordinary persons who just want to add a “green sight” to the standard visiting tour of Freiburg. Admittedly, after digesting first impressions, some of them have also voiced ]possibility of “transplanting” the ideas behind the model of Vauban to other places (Interview VB2) (TRANSIT_01: .30).

Additionally, the co-creation process and the application of the principle “Learning while Planning” set new standards in terms of citizens participation (TRANSIT_01: 37). The city of Freiburg practiced a planning method - able to react to new developments quickly and flexibly- allowed for “enlarged” citizen involvement processes going far beyond the usual demands of the construction law (TRANSIT_01: 18).

The success of Vauban ecodistrict serves urban planners and mayors from all over the world to learn from the example of this experimental district (TRANSIT_01: 6).

The experiences made with GENOVA e.G. have inspired the setting up of Vaubanaise e.G., built also in Vauban and are currently informing the establishment of Esche e.G. (i.Gr.) for building around 70housing units in another part of Freiburg over the coming years.

The four-days conference called “StadtVision” (city vision) held in 1999 and organised by Forum and ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability allowed 130 participants from 21 European countries to discuss sustainable city development and participation (TRANSIT_01: 35).

  • b. Transferability to what kind of contexts has been suggested?

The intervention can be possibly transferred to other urban contexts. The Vauban model has been especially looked at and visited by experts from Asia.

  • c. Who has made the claims?

TRANSIT researchers as well as the activits. The municipality also supports and promotes the replication of the intervention.

  • d. What limits to transferability to broader contexts have been discussed?

“The concept of Vauban was never repeated in any other new district of Freiburg except for the low energy standard for housing which has been introduced as obligatory in Freiburg since then. Unfortunately this regulation has influenced a negative effect on affordable housing, because the standard has increased the prices. On the other hand the heating cost went down. In this sense, this case reveals a danger of extracting single innovations from the overall concept or case they are embedded in. If the social innovation of citizen-lead planning and ownership – for instance in the form of housing cooperatives – was combined more often with the technical innovations of ecological building laws, affordable housing in low-energy houses could be realized on a broader basis (TRANSIT_01: 44).

32. In what forms has the learning process, including stories of overcoming obstacles, been recorded for, and/or made accessible to city makers also from elsewhere?[7]

The framework of TRANSIT project the learning process related to Vauban’s co-housing project has been record in a reflexive way and special attention is paid to it on the section “5.1.16 Social learning through Vauban” (TRANSIT_01: 37) of a deliverable of the WP4.

There are about 25,000 visits per year in Vauban from people from all over the world including “academia, politicians, technical experts, pupils and ordinary persons” in order to learn more about the details of the district’s development. This interest was triggered by the exhibition of Vauban model at the World expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Facing a growing number of inquiries about the model eco-district, the City’s planning department called for private expert agencies to provide guided tours:, “a network of professional guides hosts tours around the quarter for political and international guests” (TRANSIT_01: 30).

“At the same time, the City of Freiburg intensified its PR work to present Vauban to the interested public: a website with six subpages, online and printed brochures in six different languages, as well as imagery and presentations are available.”

In addition the growing attention for Freiburg as a “Green City” in general and the sustainability awards it received led the municipality to establish a designated “Green City Office” in the municipalDepartment of International Relations that coordinates and answers to inquiries. “The office has signed Memorandums of Understanding with four designated “Green City”- agencies to organize study visits and seminars, meeting the visitors’ interests” (TRANSIT_01: 31).

33. Have any signs of collaboration, support, or inspiration already been reported between actors involved in this intervention and others that follow its example? (e.g. in “follower cities”?)

Since its presentation at the HABITAT exhibition in 1996 Vauban has been looked at as an example of urban planning projects involving citizen participation, car-reduced and sustainable living. Specifically , the creation of living spaces free of cars was inspirational for several law developments in Germany. The two options for choosing – either payments for a parking lot or a contribution for the association “Autofreies Wohnen” (car-free living) has “resulted in a legal amendment on the level of the State of Baden-Württemberg allowing more freedom to create diverse forms of parking lots, for instance for bikes instead for cars only” (TRANSIT_01: 29).

However, Vauban‘s mobility concept has never been planned to be enforced in Freiburg since it has been criticised by the media suspecting that car owners would simply go parking in the neighbouring districts (TRANSIT_01: .29).

“Most of these visitors claim they are taking inspiration from the innovations of Vauban, but there is no monitoring or evaluation and little feedback as to where and how these inspirations have led to real changes in other places. Nevertheless, many examples show the dissemination of Vauban’s experiences. For instance, after several visits and exchanges with Vauban citizens, the nearby rural Municipality of Teningen, with which Vauban has developed a partnership, is now planning to invest in solar installations as well (VB1)” (TRANSIT_01: 39).

In addition, in “December 2015 Vauban started a city partnership with the French town Eybens, which approached Vauban to learn from its experiences as sustainable city district” (TRANSIT_01: 36).

j) Structural learning

34. Has the intervention influenced higher-level governance arrangements such that sustainability and justice are considered (together) in a more durable, structural way? In other words, are there any observations about more structural, long-term changes as a result of the intervention?

  • For example: new programs run by local councils, new modes of citizen participation, new mediating bodies
  • Is there other evidence that the project has contributed to enhancing sustainable and just governance in cities in a general sense?


k) Reflections on important governance concepts

35. What other aspects of governance, that were not covered above, are important to highlight, too?


36. From your perspective as a researcher, which word or phrase characterizes this governance intervention most concisely? (Please attach your name to the characterization) In other words, what is the biggest takeaway from this intervention about governance arrangements?

“The main aspect of Vaubans’ innovation is the negotiation process between the City’s urban planning office and the strong citizen initiative of Forum Vauban with its diverse aims of a socially just, ecological district” (TRANSIT_01: 42).

Appendix 1: Three modes of governance

(from NATURVATION project)

NATURVATION's NBS-Atlas distinguishes three categories of governance arrangements (dubbed "management set-ups":

  • Government-led (Gov)
  • Co-governance or hybrid governance (mix of responsibilities between government and non-government actors) (c/h)
  • Led by non-government actors (NGO)

Alternatively or additionally, the following four modes of governing (as distinguished also by Bulkeley/Kern 2006 and Zvolska et al. 2019) could be used as a typology: Castan Broto/ Bulkeley 2013:95

  1. Self-governing, intervening in the management of local authority operations to ‘‘lead by example’’;
  2. Provision, greening infrastructure and consumer services provided by different authorities;
  3. Regulations, enforcing new laws, planning regulations, building codes, etc.; and
  4. Enabling, supporting initiatives led by other actors through information and resource provision and partnerships”

Appendix 2: Policy typology

(from NATURVATION project)

Policy typology Description Examples
Regulatory (administrative, command-and-control) Mandatory fulfillment of certain requirements by targeted actors Legislations, regulations, laws, directives, etc.
Economic (financial, market-based) Financial (dis)incentives to trigger change by providing (new) favourable (or unfavourable) economic conditions for targeted actors Positive incentive include subsidies, soft loans, tax allowance and procurments. Negative incentives are taxes, fees and charges.
Informative (educational) They aim at providing information or knowledge to target actors in order to increase awareness and support informed decision-making accomplish or prevent social change Information and awareness raising campaigns, informative leaflets, advertisements in different media.
Voluntary Commitment and/or actions beyond legal requirements, undertaken by private actors and/or non-governmental organisations. Voluntary actions and agreements.

test tableau

  1. Background to this question: Our four main criteria for selecting particular governance interventions and develop rich descriptions of them were: A) The intervention has been studied in a specific urban context (e.g. city), B) this context is located in Europe (and, preferably, the study was EU-funded), C) the intervention considers to a large extent sustainability AND justice (at least implicitly), and D) it is well-documented, ideally including assumptions or even critical reflections on enablers and barriers to implementation and on transferability (i.e. ‘de-contextualizability’). Additionally, we aimed at a diverse portfolio of domains (see Q2.) and governance modes (see Q5): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nCPcUd-COIQ1MsBjir20_F1CBbnSu6HqKH9nNLshiVQ/edit?usp=sharing.
  2. TRANSIT website. Last view on 29/06/20: http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/ .
  3. Actor types according to TRANSIT’s Critical Turning Point Database, http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/about-ctps-in-tsi-processes.
  4. If easily possible mention sources for your association of roles.
  5. Deliverable 7.1 Synthesis Report on results from Monitoring and Evaluation (p.14) : http://www.foodlinkscommunity.net/fileadmin/documents_organicresearch/foodlinks/publications/karner-etal-d-7-1.pdf .
  6. http://www.foodlinkscommunity.net/fileadmin/documents_organicresearch/foodlinks/publications/karner-etal-d-7-1.pdf .
  7. Feel free to include learning that has been made available through EU project documentation, intervention initiatives, or other channels. In addition to the forms in which the learning process has been shared with others, please indicate whether the learning process that’s being shared has been recorded in a self-critical/reflexive way.