The Self-Made City—Urban Living and Alternative Development Models

  • Kristien Ring


This chapter explores how citizens self-commission high-density urban housing through a type of building cooperative coined Baugruppe in Germany. The Baugruppe model increases choice and lowers costs, fosters cohesive neighborhoods and enables adaptable, customized, living solutions for families. Owner-occupied, self-initiated projects in a self-made city successfully balance density, urbanity, social qualities, and individuality and are examples of sustainable, resilient, urban development. Whereas there is no typical model, common strategies and legal forms are demonstrated in hundreds of newer examples. The German Baugruppe has a long tradition and, throughout Europe, cities are adapting policies to facilitate alternative development models. Ultimately, self-made projects have the potential to increase the quality, affordability, and viability of urban living while contributing to the sustainability of the city.


Baugruppe Urban co-housing Sustainable urban development Urban living Owner-occupied development Self-initiated projects Self-made city 


  1. Berlin, S. f. S. (2007). Urban pioneers: Berlin: Stadtentwicklung durch Zwischennutzung; temporary use and urban development. Berlin: Jovis.Google Scholar
  2. d’Alençon, P. A., Bauerfeind, B., & Konrad, D. (2017). Handbuch und Planungshilfe—Ephemere Stadtentwicklung. Berlin: DOM Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Davis, S. (2016). The housing affordability crisis: Can it be solved? Berkely Blog. Retrieved from
  4. Demographia. (2017). 13th Annual demographia international housing affordability survey: 2017. Belleville, IL: Demographia.Google Scholar
  5. Dürr, S., & Kuhn, G. (2017). Wohnvielfalt. Gemeinschaftlich wohnen—im Quarter vernetzt und sozial orientiert. Ludwigsburg: Wüstenrot Stiftung in Kraemerverlag.Google Scholar
  6. Förster, W., Menking, W., Bitter, S., & Aedes am, P. (2016). Das Wiener Modell: Wohnbau für die Stadt des 21. Jahrhunderts = The Vienna model: Housing for the twenty-first-century city. Berlin: Jovis.Google Scholar
  7. Government, D. f. C. a. L. (2016). Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016). London: United Kingdom Government Legislation.Google Scholar
  8. Housing, D. A. S. o. (2013). Samen Bouwen/Building together. Rotterdam: nai010 uitgevers.Google Scholar
  9. Kleilein, D., Ballhausen, N., & Geipel, K. (2011). Wir Reden Über Grund und Boden, Weil Wir Darum Gekämpft Haben. Bauwelt, 102, 8–15.Google Scholar
  10. Krämer, S., & Kuhn, G. (2009). Städte und Baugemeinschaften. Stuttgart and Zurich: Krämer.Google Scholar
  11. Lafond, M., & Honeck, T. (2012). CoHousing cultures. Handbook for self-organized, community-oriented and sustainable housing: Id22. Berlin: Jovis-Verlag.Google Scholar
  12. McCamant, K., & Durrett, C. (2011). Creating cohousing: Building sustainable communities. Gabriola: New Society Publishers. Google Scholar
  13. Montgomery, C. (2013). Happy city: Transforming our lives through urban design. New York: Macmillan. Google Scholar
  14. Nations, U. (2014). World urbanization prospects: The 2014 revision, highlights. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Population Division, United Nations.Google Scholar
  15. Ring, K. (2013). Self-made city—Berlin: Self-initiated urban living and architectural interventions. Berlin: Jovis.Google Scholar
  16. Ring, K. (2015). Urban living: Strategies for the future, Berlin. Berlin: Jovis.Google Scholar
  17. Robertson, J. (2017, May 2). ‘Eye-watering prices’: Australia’s housing affordability crisis laid bare. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  18. Sonne, W. (2017). Urbanity and density in 20th century urban design. Berlin: DOM Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. Vergunst, M., & Peborde, I. (2016). Co-housing in Europe #2: Vrijburcht, Amsterdam. New Europe—Cities in transition. Retrieved from
  20. Wohnen, S. f. S. u. (2012). IBA 2020—Dokumentation der Vorarbeiten. Berlin: Senatsverwaltung of Berlin.Google Scholar
  21. Ziehl, M., Osswald, S., Hasemann, O., & Schnier, D. (2012). Second hand spaces: Recycling sites undergoing urban transformation. Berlin: Jovis.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristien Ring
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Architecture and Community DesignUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations