Mehrgenerationswohnen: Pöstenhof Lemgo & Karmeliterkloster Bonn


cohousiThe medium-sized town of Lemgo with about 40,000 residents is seriously aging. Wohnbaugenossenschaft Lemgo (WBL) owns a large number of familyhouses, and has to deal with this problem. They took the initiative to explore a new way of living. On a vacant site they have worked with HSD architects on a ‘Mehrgenerations’ housing concept in the project Pöstenhof.

The idea of the project is to mix generations in a small scale courtyard building. Based on a first sketch a group of interested people has been selected to participate in de process of developing a cooperative housing project with rental apartments for mixed generations. The residents are very mixed, from young to old (0-81 years). There are 21 children in the project and multiple nationalities. The project includes a day care for the elderly, which is rented to a healthcare organization. This is used by residents from the project and from the neighborhood, who depend on the care of others, but still live at home.


The building consists of two buildings that are half open to the street. A raised gallery filters the access of the garden to a public entrance square. An important aspect of the project is the commonality. The wide corridors are orientated to the collective garden and function as important meeting places, along with the collective garden and a collective room on the ground floor.
The outside of the block is the private side. The architecture of the outer facade expresses the individuality of the inhabitants. The fragmented articulation of the volume also connects the building to the small scale of family houses in the surroundings.

The inhabitants of Pöstenhof commit themselves to contribute to a mixed-generations-living community. The residents have signed an agreement with the owner (WBL) to make it possible to regulate all new rentals themselves. They take care of maintenance in the collective areas and organize activities in the collective space. New candidates are selected by a committee of inhabitants. For the inhabitants it is important that new people choose for the concept , and not just for the house.

The project Karmeliterkloster in Bonn is a bit older and bigger. The project has been initiated by the architects: Fischer – von Kietzell Architekten on the site of an old convent. The project contains 70 housingunits in different types around a spacious garden to create an attractive mixed generations area. In contrast to  Pöstenhof there is less mixture within the different building parts. Famlies mainly live in the rowhouses, seniors mainly occupy the apartment blocks. In the renovated part a collective meeting room has been realized that is used for all kind of activities, also accessible for people from the neighborhood.


Karmeliterkloster garden

The inhabitants that have shown us the project tell us that it is particularly this bigger size that attracts them. It creates more privacy and distance then we have seen in Pöstenhof. But at the same time the enclosed garden, the orientation of the houses and the way the project is organized creates a collective atmosphere.


Karmeliterkloster garden


Tübingen, stad van de tussenmaat



Freiburg was de eerste stad die ruimte maakte voor bouwgroepen, maar Tübingen heeft dit fenomeen tot een zeer consistente vorm van stadsontwikkeling weten te ontwikkelen.

Al sinds de ontwikkeling van het Französisches viertel, vanaf het begin van de jaren ’90, werkt de stad aan een hyper democratisch en transparant stadsontwikkelingsmodel. Op alle niveaus hebben de stad Tübingen en de daar werkzame architecten zich weten te professionaliseren in het bouwen van sociaal duurzame, gemengde, stedelijke wijken waarin bottom up en top down in balans zijn.  Dit gaat zelfs zo ver dat de Deutsche Bahn nu ook de gemeente, vanwege haar expertise, heeft gevraagd hen te helpen met het integreren van bouwgroepen in de verder vrij traditionele ontwikkeling van het Güterbahnhof areaal, waar DB grondeigenaar is.


De architectuur is krachtiger geworden in de meer recente gebieden die de stad heeft ontwikkeld, zoals bijvoorbeeld de Alte Weberei in het stadsdeel Lustnau. De tussenmaat overheerst nog steeds in de stadsontwikkeling in Tübingen. Dat doet ons denken aan recente discussies in Amsterdam, waar tijdens de crisis veel ruimte ontstond voor kleinschalig ontwikkelen, maar door de oplevende woningmarkt de tussenmaatse ontwikkeling nu weer onder druk staat.

Bij de toewijzing van kavels in Tübingen wordt geselecteerd op sterke concepten en dat biedt veel ruimte voor experimenten op het gebied van techniek, zoals hoge duurzaamheid en massiefhoutbouw, maar ook op sociaal gebied: bijzondere doelgroepen, werkruimtes en buurtvoorzieningen. En dat biedt weer kansen voor architecten om innovatieve concepten te initiëren en samen met bewoners te realiseren.

Verkavelingsplan Guterbahnhof met in blauw de locaties voor bouwgroepen (bron:

Köln – Baufreunden


Baufreunden, a project of office03, is one of the first building-group projects in Köln. The architects, who also live in the project, have aimed for quality in the typology, stacked wide maisonettes with either a garden or a roof terrace. In addition, they have drawn a few smart, simple rules for the facade. With the introduction of two windowtypes there was freedom of choice for residents and a consistent overall facadedesign. The inhabitants have made their own floorplans with or without the help of the architect.

For these architects it was the first time to work for a building-group. Around a hundred evening meetings have been necessary to achieve this convincing result. Now, they ask themselves whether they want to do this type of intense process again, especially if it doesn’t generate more quality and such an intense process is not profitable for the architect. The question is how democratic a process should be to achieve the advantages of building groups: more participation, quality and social cohesion and lower costs.
We will also visit Tübingen, this city has a lot of experience with this phenomenon. We wonder what insights we gain there.

Senior co housing in Egebakken


We met Hanne, who lives with her dog in the senior cohousing project Egebakken in Nødebo. This project was initiated in 2000 by five elderly couples. They didn’t want to stay in their big villa’s and decided they wanted to be good neighbors and take a bit more care of each other.

In the project 29 individual houses and one community house were built on a site of 23.000 m2. The houses have three sizes:  small (105 m2) , medium (125m2) and large (150m2). To be able to live here one has to be over 55 years old and is not allowed to have kids living at home . Egebakken is a well-organized small society. An activity group, a technical group and  a care group organize a lot of things ranging from theater visits to snow cleaning the streets.

The houses were designed by Vandkunsten, an architectural firm that is very experienced in (co) housing projects. The house are very spacious. The living rooms have high ceilings and some high windows that bring in light into the living area. The inhabitants were able to design their own flour plan.

Hanne’s house is on the edge, she overlooks the woods. She is very happy in Egebakken. She moved in with her husband.  It took some time for her to get used to this way of living in which privacy is guaranteed, but in which she also feels a bit obliged to take part in communal life. Now her husband has died and she is much more involved.

The inhabitants of Egebakken are all well educated and prosperous. The interesting question is if a concept like this could also work for lower income groups or even mixed groups. Hanne thinks mixing social groups wouldn’t work. The difference in income would make it very hard to agree on the communal expenses and to organize activities that fit all inhabitants.

This project is part of our research ‘Grijstinten in de tussenmaat’.