The City of Fremantle recently announced they are looking for expressions of interest from groups of people that want to develop 7 Quarry St in Fremantle, a site currently owned by the City. It’s not your ordinary expression of interest though…
Fremantle Baugruppen demonstration project
The project is inspired by the ‘Baugruppen’ development model, where future owners and residents become the developer. The aim is for the nearly 1,500 sqm site to become a showcase for an innovative development that provides a diversity of housing options. The conditions include that the purchasing body must be co-operatively owned and democratically controlled and demonstrate a legal mechanism to ensure the majority of owners are individuals who want to live at 7 Quarry St. Because it is to be designed and built under future owners’ guidance, there is no developer’s margin so the project can deliver more sustainable and (long term) affordable housing. The project is expected to meet national or internatial best practice for environmentally sustainable building design. The council sees a puchase price at or above market value, and will consider delayed settlement options.
What is Baugruppen?
The word Baugruppen is German for ‘building group’, a form of co-operative and collaborative housing. There are a wide range of case studies, most of them a far cry from the government subsidised and means-tested co-op model that is common in Australia which serves only low-income residents and leaves them at risk of losing their home if they grow too prosperous. The new model of cooperative housing is to cater for diverse segments, mixing up low and middle-income residents, adapting to individual needs and lifestyles, allowing people to prosper and possibly even move from renting to owning (and back).
In comparison to a typical, developer style project where the profit is a key driver, in the Baugruppen or co-operative model:
- Like minded people pool financial resources to buy land and fund their own development.
- Architect and contractors design and build to co-operative’s needs.
- Everyone gets a (strata) unit custom to their needs at a reduced cost.
Research by Kristien Ring, a German architect and researcher, and published in a book titled ‘Self Made City’ analysed and documented a wide range of self-made projects and found that these projects had qualities that are hardly achieved by investor projects. From a sustainability perspective, they include investment in ecological buildings, a strong focus on open and green space, and a responsibility, beyond the building, for the wider community. It is qualities such as this that the City of Fremantle is obviously looking for.
Other Baugruppen projects in Perth
But don’t think that Baugruppen are a completely new phenomenon. In Perth, Green Gurus team member Eugenie Stockmann, completed two multi-award winning Baugruppen projects as co-founder of The Green Swing. She recently founded Green Fabric to facilitate and assist others; she is working on a project in Shelley and is also involved with a submission for the 7 Quarry St opportunity. Landcorp also is trying out this new development model; they are collaborating with the University of Western Australia on a Baugruppen demonstration and research project on one of the apartment sites in the WGV project.
There is a lot of potential; in some German cities, Baugruppen make up 30-40% of new projects. We look forward to Baugruppen projects providing inspiration for what is possible in relation to sustainable buildings and communities.