U.S. Army base in Germany transformed into affordable, pedestrian-only garden village

Dutch design firm MVRDV has partnered with German housing builder Traumhaus—which focuses on low-cost high-quality homes based on standardized elements—to design 27.000 square meters of housing, gardens, and public spaces at a closed U.S. Army base in Mannheim, Germany. Underground parking enables the above-ground village to be car-free.

The scheme is situated in Funari, one of five districts in a major re-development of the Benjamin Franklin barracks in Mannheim. The new village is a catalogue of dwelling and garden typologies, a huge set of variations on Traumhaus’ original design, each designed to support a different type of household and demographic.

The collaboration combines tradition with extravaganza, experience with experimentation, quality with quantity, sharing the ideal of variety and social access with innovation and realisation. Through encouraging a range of different inhabitants to live in the area MVRDV hopes to transform the modern idea of village life with segregated households, into a rich diverse community where individuality and quality of life are paramount.

Boundaries disappear between the surrounding park and the fully pedestrianized ‘village’. The green spaces dissipate into a network of paths through and around the site, which open out into sports parks or themed eco-environments such as fruit alleys or butterfly gardens.

Each household also has a unique private garden whose typologies vary much in the same way as the houses, handpicked by the residents to provide the outdoor living that suits them; whether it be for the children to run around or for growing vegetables. These gardens though are really just an extension of the park which permeates through the site.

See project on MVRDV website.

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