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Sustainable despite new construction:

Freiburg gets new district

03.November 2021

In the west of Freiburg, a new district for around 15,000 people is being built on approximately 107 hectares. Constructed in compliance with all current and future sustainability standards, mobility also enjoys a high priority in Dietenbach.

The design of the new Dietenbach district combines modern sustainability standards with long-established settlement structures. © City of Freiburg

The design of the new Dietenbach district combines modern sustainability standards with long-established settlement structures. © City of Freiburg

Creating a district on a greenfield site has not often been crowned with success in the past. Most of them were large housing estates in peripheral locations, poorly connected to the public transport network and strictly monofunctional. Freiburg im Breisgau is now showing that it can be done differently; planned on the drawing board, but in nature modeled on inner-city districts from the Wilhelminian period. The large-scale Dietenbach project, named after the flowing body of water in the construction area, has the potential to be iconic for a new kind of urban development.

Freiburg is a growing city with a great shortage of affordable housing, which the city wants to counter with the creation of the new district as an answer. The new Dietenbach district is to be a barrier-free, well-mixed, urban district with affordable housing, including 50 percent subsidised rental housing, an environmentally friendly mobility concept and an innovative energy concept. The goal is a self-confident neighbourhood with which its residents identify. It should strengthen and advance Freiburg as a city in the good tradition of previously developed districts such as Rieselfeld and Vauban, as well as have a positive impact on the surrounding districts and foster good neighbourhoods. The development of the new Dietenbach district is one of the largest projects in the city's recent history.

Since spring 2019, the Freiburg city administration has been working on a detailed framework plan together with the winning offices (K9 Architekten from Freiburg, Latz + Partner for open space planning from Kranzberg and StetePlanung from Darmstadt for traffic), which had won the city's urban open space planning competition in 2017. This was approved by the municipal council of the city of Freiburg on 8 December 2020. EGSPlan developed the energy concept.

With around 6,900 residential units to be built on the site and housing for around 15,000 people, not only will an additional district be created, but a neighbourhood with its own infrastructure and a high degree of centrality. Dietenbach will be arranged according to the principle of perimeter block development in order to achieve a high functional mix with short distances and naturally distributed green spaces. Walkability and bikeability are in the foreground; in addition, a connection to the tram line leading to the city centre will be created. For cars, elevated and underground garages are available, which - depending on future needs - can be converted without much effort. It should be possible to transform the above-ground parking areas into flats, for example.

In the new Dietenbach district, the focus is on quality of life, sustainability and experience. The neighbourhood is to be inclusive and barrier-free and the first in Freiburg to be realised in a climate-neutral way. All residential properties will be built in compliance with KfW 55 standards and will be supplied with heat via a central large-scale heat pump with an output of 20 megawatts; the energy will be obtained from wastewater and groundwater. It reaches the houses via the local heating network, which is why no separate heating systems are necessary. Green hydrogen is produced in a 900 m2 electrolyser, which can be used by the transport companies or waste disposal, for example. The resulting waste heat is to cover 20 % of the neighbourhood's energy needs. In order to ensure varied recreational opportunities, especially for children, the creek area will become an "adventure area".

Since technological innovations in the mobility sector are difficult to predict, an adaptation strategy is planned. Where possible, precautions are already taken during construction to be able to react to leaps in development without much reconstruction. For example, the central ring road is being made quite wide so that autonomous buses have enough space. Furthermore, several car-sharing stations and a disproportionately large number of bicycle parking spaces are planned, in parallel with a comparatively low car parking space ratio of 0.5 per residential unit. The technical infrastructure for large-scale practicality of electric cars is also to be prepared from the outset; in this case by thick cable pipes in the subsoil, the capacity of which is sufficient for an increase in charging columns. In this way, an urban quarter is being created in the middle of a greenfield site, which seems to be well prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the future.

Info at: www.freiburg.de and www.freiburg-dietenbach.de

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