Baugruppen are becomingly increasingly popular in certain parts of Germany, such as Freiburg and Berlin, bringing together groups of families and friends together with architects and designers to create communal living spaces. Would it be possible in a wider sense for community services and facilities to collaborate in a similar fashion, with pharmacies, libraries and local businesses working together to create the premises they need to effectively service a community? However, with no clear direction on who would lead such an initiative or how the initial funding would be raised, would there be substantive support at local and national government level?
The basic idea is that a group of people comes together to work directly with architects and designers, bypassing developers, to build a shared dwelling that they own collectively (a co-op, basically). Taking developers out of the picture saves money — 25 to 30 percent in Berlin, where baugruppen are common — and opens up space for much more ambitious, innovative, and sustainable architecture. It also fosters cooperation and community among members of the collective.