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Baugruppe, Freiberg, Germany
Baugruppe, Freiberg, Germany

Baugruppe is a German term which literally translates as "building group," although it has also been equated to "building community." The German term baugemeinschaften is also used to refer to this form of self-organized collective housing. The baugruppe offers an innovative approach to multi-family housing development, cooperative housing, and intentional communities.

Some features that distinguish baugruppen (plural) from other forms of co-housing:

  • Usually comprise multistory (read higher rise), multifamily buildings, rather than a low-rise, detached or semi-detached structures
  • Unit sizes and configurations are customized to residents' needs
  • Do not include required common spaces or facilities, although members may choose to include them
  • Involve participatory planning for development
  • Are usually self-financed without developer funding - whereas other forms of cooperative housing may be self or developer funded
  • Are definitively urban housing solutions versus other forms of cooperative housing which may be urban, suburban or rural
  • Similarities to a condominium as each member owns their unit outright

Baugruppen in Germany

In Germany, the baugruppe concept has become well-established over the past thirty years, so much so that there is an entire cadre of baugruppe-focused professionals (financial institutions, architects and designers, and contractors) that have sprung up to meet the need for this form of housing. Some municipalities even provide government baugruppen facilitators to help interested parties select a building site, nail down financing, design and architectural help, and bring on board contractors.

  1. Creating a baugruppe in Germany is fairly straightforward:
  2. Bring together a like-minded group interested in creating and living in a baugruppe
  3. Form a member-based LLC
  4. Collect an up-front fee from the members that can be used for a downpayment on the land and to secure services such as those of an architect, At this stage, additional financing may be required.
  5. Construction proceeds as with any other building project
  6. With the construction completed and financing accounted for, each member owns their own unit

Beyond the bureaucratic assistance some German cities provide to groups creating baugruppen, the concept also has the support of the government in the form of lower tax rates paid by baugruppen versus developers, as well as preferential pricing for baugruppen buying government-owned land.

Baugruppe History

The Vauban district in Freiberg, a university and mining town near Dresden and Germany's border with the Czech Republic saw the world's first baugruppe''in the 1990s. The product of activist mobilization for affordable housing planned via community participation the Vauban baugruppe project proved to be an effective community-based and community-focused housing solution that would quickly be picked up and replicated elsewhere in Germany.

Baugruppe Examples

  • Baugruppe in Vauban, Freiberg, Germany
  • Newport Project Baugruppe in Berlin, Germany
  • R50 Baugruppe in Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany


  • Encourages density and is a useful solution in cities in which buildable land is at a premium
  • Provides cost-savings (in Germany) beyond any tax breaks as baugruppen are allowed to select small and oddly-shaped land parcels that would be out of bounds or undesirable for developers. Members may also choose more economical, smaller unit footprints than might be profitable or attractive to developers. The formula for development in Germany also cuts out middlemen such as realtors, further saving money. In Germany, baugruppe can come in at 10 to 20 percent cheaper per square foot than a comparable conventional apartment or condominium.
  • Since it is collectively funded, the baugruppe allows for a relatively low cost of entry and a quick conversion to homeownership
  • Is a collective solution that also affords for individual home ownership
  • Allows for living space customized to residents
  • As with other forms of co-housing, baugruppen encourage personal investment in housing


Bring Baugruppe to Seattle - The Urbanist 3 April 2017

Baugruppen: Yes in Our Backyard - The Urbanist 24 June 2014

Could This German Affordable Homebuilding Plan Be A Model for the US? - Curbed 7 April 2016

Build Your Own Baugruppe - A Home for the Rest of Us - Impact Design Hub 8 Feb 2016