Building groups involve a collective of prospective owner-occupiers coming together to have input into the design and delivery of a development. Not only do future residents have more say in how their future house will look, but they have a chance to get to know their future neighbours early in the process. The financial models used by building groups can also deliver significant cost savings to residents.
A building group is often called a 'baugruppe' (German for building group) because the model first gained popularity in Germany. Around a tenth of all new housing projects in Berlin are now baugruppe projects.
Image courtesy of Nightingale 1
What is it?
Building groups involve a collective of prospective owner-occupiers coming together to co-create a development. They provide input to the design and may also get involved in financing the development and overseeing its construction. There are a number of ways building groups come about, ranging from groups of friends coming together to develop, to strangers being brought together by an architect or development manager who is facilitating a development.
Who is it for?
This type of housing is most relevant to people who are looking to own rather than rent their home, and who would like the opportunity to have input into its design. Building groups provide opportunities to deliver more affordable housing by putting prospective residents in control of design and eliminating some of the costs associated with speculative development, such as profit margins and sales and marketing costs. By identifying essentials, electing to share certain facilities, and eliminating unnecessary or inessential design features, prospective owners can contribute to the design of an apartment that meets their needs rather than the expectations of the market.
What makes it collaborative?
In order to design more affordable housing, the prospective residents work together (in a process usually facilitated by a designer or architect) to identify a shared vision for their dwellings. This is an important distinction—building groups should not be confused with custom-designed apartments or 'speculative' housing offered by developers. Rather, building groups provide opportunities for residents to collaboratively develop a vision for their homes that eliminates selected non-essential design features and that identifies opportunities for sharing resources and facilities in order to bring down the cost of housing. Furthermore, in most building groups residents play a significant role in securing finance and overseeing construction, guided by a professional development manager.