We-Urbanism: The City as a Community Project

Future for the Samtweber Viertel in Krefeld / Germany

Active community work and the renewal of the Old velvet weaving as impulse for the district

© Montag Stiftung

© Montag Stiftung

The development of buildings and urban spaces is a joint task. After all, builders, planners, administrators and many others must work closely together to achieve good results. Often, however, this community task is reserved for only a few, who have specialist competencies, professional legitimation or financial resources. The rest is left out. But that changes. More and more, non professional stakeholders are taking their commitment and competencies to the development of their built environment.

The city of Krefeld and the Montag Foundation Urban Spaces is setting off on a joint journey, the Krefeld Südstadt – and here in particular the district around the old velvet weaving – to one
Viable and vibrant urban building of the entire city. The aim is to interlink the development of the velvet weaver quarter and the investment in the old velvet weaving industry in such a way that in the medium term a socially, economically and town-ally heterogeneous, open-minded community emerges which does not require any separate support from the public authorities.

© Montag Stiftung

© Montag Stiftung

In their experience of social urban renewal, the Montag Foundation Urban Spaces repeatedly asked themselves the following question: How can the community and the diversity of an unstable district be strengthened beyond short-term impulses and public support?

Can not be developed?

In 2013 the Foundation sought a suitable object. In the southwest town in Krefeld she found it. After the departure of the municipal administration in 2008, the former weaving mill stood empty. There was no investor for the multi-storey building with an area of 4500 square meters and a hall in the courtyard. The district is considered to be structurally “difficult”: too much vacancy, bad construction material, a comparatively high proportion of “transfer-money recipients”. From the point of view of classical investors and real estate developers, the velvet weaving was “not developable”, not least because of the protected part.

© Montag Stiftung

© Montag Stiftung

A program of action jointly developed by the city and the Montag Foundation Urban Spaces came to a different conclusion: they discovered a lot of space for creative, freelancers, students, reintegrates into the profession and opportunities for good inner-city living. This also provides space for encounters in a multicultural environment with many active clubs and initiatives.

Half-Rent and “district-hours”

After the residents of the Südweststadt had signaled approval for the project in a citizen information, the project was launched in April 2014 with the founding of the “Urban Neighborhood Samtweberei GmbH (UNS)”. It is responsible for the reconstruction of the building and is responsible for the work of the community and the development of diverse participations for all the population groups of the district. The city has provided the real estate for 60 years in the hereditary building rights to the UNS gmbh. It waives so long on the hereditary lease (around 34,000 euros per year) as the surpluses from the rent in not-for-profit work for the quarter are invested. The Montag Foundation supports the US with the necessary equity for the construction measures and also for five years with subsidies for neighborhood management, including public relations work, personnel and above all for civic projects.

© Montag Stiftung

© Montag Stiftung

Plus there is the model “district hours”. For a very cheap cold rent, the commercial tenants of the Samtweberei UNS gmbh do an hour of community work per square meter for the district. The users of the Old Velvet Weaving have initiated a neighborhood newspaper, offer courses for children and young people, such as a recycling art workshop, provide emergency tuition and language support, help clubs and initiatives in professional communication and organize events.

Further information:

Heinrich Böll Architects

Montag Foundation – Urban Space (available only in German)

Nachbarschaft Samtweberei (availabale only in German)
Magzine “Auf gute Nachbarschaft im Samtweberviertel Krefeld” (available only in German)









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