How do residents take the future of their village into their own hands

Will Fatschenbrunn soon become the most fashionable place in the entire region? Speaking to people in the Oberauracher district, you already have the impression that this is a special village: they describe the village community that works very well and speak of “incredible cohesion”. But this also has a downside: those who want to settle in Fatschenbrunn will have a hard time finding a construction site or an empty house. “The fact that there are no vacancies is certainly no coincidence,” says Thomas Mayer. “We have young people here who don’t want to go against the flow.”

Meyer belongs to a group of Fatschenbrunners who have taken the initiative to lead their village into the future. Meyer originally came from Upper Bavaria, and later moved to Bayreuth. The 33-year-old got to know his current residence about five years ago through a fellow student from the area. He shares a great passion for football, which is why Meyer soon played with his friend at the Wachsenbrunner club. Steigerwald’s village of 270 soon became his second home. His professional focus also shifted to Lower Franconia and eventually he met his current wife, who comes from Knietzgau.

It is clear to both of them that they want to live in Fatschenbrunn, but things are looking bad with the living space. “Six years ago the municipality promised a building area,” says Meyer. Two years ago they renewed the promise without anything happening.” Although there is a possibility of moving to a neighboring town, this is out of the question for Thomas Meyer and his wife, as well as for many other people who wish to live in Vatchenbrunn.

Help from a professor of architecture

This led to an inventory initiated by citizens. Then nine or ten families stated that they wanted to settle in the village in the next few years. “We want to make the municipality responsible for setting up the construction sites,” says Meyer. The group of citizens attaches importance to the fact that their commitment is not understood as an insult to society. “Society supports it,” says Thomas Nondorfer, who can be understood as the leader of the group.

“The fact that there are no vacancies is definitely not a coincidence. We have young people here who don’t want to move, going against the general trend.”

Thomas Mayer, a native of Fatschenbrunn

Although Neundorfer himself is not one of those looking for a construction site, the future of the village is very important to him. “This is a question that interests everyone: What should a village look like in ten, 20 or 50 years?” The 63-year-old was born in Fatschenbrunn and feels very connected to the place. “I’m only interested in how things go in the village,” he says. “And I also enjoy being involved and supporting.”

They presented their ideas to the Oberauerbacher Municipal Council last year. “It was received very positively,” says Thomas Mayer. Because the kit is not just about acquiring construction sites. It is also about how to design a potential building area. And for this there was support from the University of Applied Sciences – Würzburg Schweinfurt. As part of the course, architecture professor Christian Baumgart asked his students to make plans for where to create a new living space and how to reasonably divide it.

The remote ancient settlements had their day

“The traditional way was: submit an application to the municipality and allocate a construction site,” says Thomas Neudörfer. “If I’m lucky, I’ll get to know the neighbors.” This is not what he and his fellow activists want. Thomas Mayer also talks about “deterrent examples in the area where I do not want to live”. Nondorfer and Meyer agree that these ancient, remote settlements have passed their day.

The concept they desire is the “modern four-sided courtyard”. In other words, instead of arranging all the houses in a new apartment building on the right and left along the street, four houses are arranged in a circle. Each family continues to have their own home and therefore their own space. However, the houses and therefore their inhabitants form a certain unit, they have common areas and perhaps also a communal house.

“This is a question that interests everyone: What should a village look like in ten, 20 or 50 years?”

Thomas Nondorfer is a citizen of Fatschenbrunn

However, this should not give the impression that families are forced to join a society in which the individual no longer plays a role and has no opportunity to escape from others. “We don’t want to live in a society,” says Thomas Neudörfer. “It’s up to you how far you go.” Families should not become a unit, but the arrangement of the houses should encourage getting to know one another and build up a mutual neighborhood support.

Cooperation, also for environmental reasons

Cooperation with neighbors can go further. From an environmental point of view, there will also be opportunities here, for example for a communal heating system, rooftop photovoltaics or a communal vegetable garden. Thomas Mayer also talks about car sharing, i.e. the possibility for families to use cars together – electric cars ideally – and therefore need fewer cars overall.

Participants emphasize that it is not only about Fatschenbrunn. The ideas she and Professor Baumgart’s students developed could also serve as a model for many other villages in which the question arises of what building areas are and how people should live together in the future. The group around Thomas Neudörfer also works with various representatives on a local level. Among others, the Center for Environmental Education (UBiZ) and the Office of Rural Development are involved.

Vatchenbrunn residents can find out exactly what plans were laid by Christian Baumgart students on Friday. Then, at 2 pm, there will be a presentation of the various concepts in the multi-purpose building. Thomas Mayer reports that when he and others presented the concept to the municipal council, “they clearly struck a chord and zeitgeist”. However, it was not possible to know if the Oberauracher community leader shared this assessment: Mayor Thomas Sixer (CSU) did not want to comment on Fatschenbrunner’s plans in the lead up to the presentation.

Leave a Comment