Sustainable Architect and Urban Planner Wolfgang Frey Takes an Unconventional Approach to Building with People and their Individual Needs in Mind

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Wolfgang Frey is convinced, as were his great-grandfathers, that a person’s responsibility for buildings and the people living in them lasts a lifetime and beyond. Time, like energy and water, is a resource that shouldn’t be wasted.

Wolfgang Frey in conversation with future residents at the construction site for Heidelberg Village

We take time to give back to the people.They should be able to enjoy Heidelberg Village for as long as possible and pass it on to the next generation.

Implenia Bau GmbH has completed its work for Heidelberg Village’s extended shell. The Swiss contractor has delivered a solid basis for builders Frey Gruppe and Software AG to complete the apartments’ interior construction together with the construction workers and residents.

Together with his international team that is planning, building and later renting out space in Heidelberg Village in the world’s largest passive house settlement, Wolfgang Frey meets with potential and future residents on a regular basis. He wants to know what is important tot he people and what they need their living space to provide. The wishes and concerns are as unique as the people themselves. It is exactly this kind of Individuality that is reflected in the Heidelberg Village apartments. The residents themselves develop their urban district through their own personal decisions and planning. This level of engagement helps each participant identify more strongly to the building, thereby fostering an easier adaptation and sense of responsibility in each person.

Together with the Software AG Foundation, Investor and builder for House B, social responsibility is at the center point in Heidelberg Village. A sense of fraternity emerges, according to the foundation, through its authentic interest in other people.

The demand for tailoring people’s living space to meet their individual needs requires a conscious decision to invest more time in planning and implementation. The finished construction should enable a positive living environment for many generations to come. „We want to create buildings that last a lifetime. We would rather take more time in planning and building than regretting having preferred acceleration and a quick fix for a lifetime,“ the project supervisors for the Frey Gruppe say. The apartments are completed directly by the contractor who works closely with the construction workers and residents themselves. The Swiss company Implenia Bau GmbH ensured a solid basis from which to start.

This is where sustainable, society-oriented precision outpaces conventional constructions. Constantly asking questions and checking the building’s structure ensure time and money saved in the future because shortcomings can be handled during the construction phase instead of more costly solutions after the building is complete. Active intervention and potential pauses during the construction phase raise awareness for possible mistakes.

Sustainability doesn’t begin when the building is finished, but rather during the planning and construction phases. The free lunch program on the construction site at Heidelberg Village brings together construction workers, future residents, planers and surrounding neighbors. The construction workers get to know the diverse neighborhood, which is made up of old and young, people in various life stages, income levels, heritage, people with and without special needs, well before they move into the building. Children are also actively experience how the building develops through various events such as the living advent calendar on the construction site or the children’s choice whose song „How wants to be a hard-working construction worker“ was a highlight at the topping off ceremony last October.

"We take our time, lots of time,“ adds the lead architect and urban planner Wolfgang Frey, "so we can listen to the people and understand where they are coming from. They should be able to enjoy Heidelberg Village for as long as possible and pass it on to the next generation."

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Christine Hohlbaum
Frey Architekten
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Qiaozhi Meng
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