Project Naumburg (Saale)

City Formation

Naumburg on the river Saale has two overriding noteworthy attributes: an old town that is largely intact, and citizens who are committed to the town’s development. The town, which joined the IBA Urban Redevelopment 2010 very late, and its citizens all wanted to support this largely voluntary commitment even more strongly and link it even more efficiently to town planning to make it possible to plan jointly.


Citizens’ Town

Naumburg is characterised by an old town with a medieval layout. The buildings, which are almost completely intact and date from the 16t to the 18th century, are crowned by the imposing St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, which can be seen from afar, and the parish church of St. Wenzel. In GDR times, new estates were usually built on the outskirts; renovations in the historic town centre were rare exceptions. After 1990, almost 90% of the vacant buildings were old buildings in disrepair in the town centre. From 1991 on, Naumburg was a “Modellstadt für Stadtsanierung” (model town for urban renovation). When this special Federal Ministry of Building programme expired in 1995, the entire historic centre was included in the federal “Städtebaulicher Denkmalschutz” (urban monument protection) programme. Meanwhile, approximately 60% of the buildings have been renovated.

This comprehensive upgrading of the old town would not have been possible without the personal involvement of the citizens and building owners. Ninety percent of the buildings are in fact still privately owned. But it was also possible to renovate public areas and important listed buildings thanks to the citizens’ remarkable support. Among these buildings were the “Hohe Lilie” town museum, Nietzsche’s house, and St. Wenzel’s tower. The “Kunst in Naumburg” association turned an old building into an exhibition and special events centre, the “Stadtjugendring” uses and preserves historic buildings as youth clubs, and the educational association “Arbeit und Leben” runs a centre for historic building materials. Even the participation of the IBA itself can be traced back to the initiative of the architects and engineers belonging to the “Naumburger Bürgerverein” citizens’ association, which was founded in 2003.


Citizens Shape Towns – Towns Shape Citizens

The Naumburg project is based on the conviction that passing on well-founded knowledge of how to look after buildings gives the citizens the courage to take on more personal responsibility themselves. The town then benefits from the citizens’ initiative, and they in turn identify more strongly with their town. This relationship becomes more and more productive the more knowledge the citizens have about design, architecture, environment, renovation, building practice, and town planning. Altogether this should lead to a deeper understanding of the town as a common asset for all citizens.

Along with educational institutions and other partners, the architects and civil engineers who belong to the Naumburg citizens’ association started to turn individual actions into a network for educating people on looking after buildings and to connect people all over the country. They ultimately hope for young people to have closer links to their town, as it is primarily the young that do not stay in Naumburg.

A large number of the activities—also in the context of a nationwide initiative of the Chamber of Architects and the Bundesstiftung Baukultur (Federal Building Culture Foundation)—are therefore specially aimed at children and young people. In collaboration with schools in Naumburg ,they have devised and carried out several project weeks and entertaining explorations of the town. Furthermore, the programme is also intended to appeal to adult residents and visitors to the town and region.


The House of Architecture and the Environment

To further consolidate this network, a building in the old town is currently undergoing wide-ranging renovation for the “Architektur- und Umwelthaus” (House of Architecture and Environment). The house is meant to give the network a visible presence. Workshops, exhibition rooms, and classrooms will be set up here as well as an “architecture café” on the ground floor. The town has purchased the building ,and after renovation three associations will be responsible for it: the Naumburger Bürgerverein e. V., the Naumburger Umweltladen e. V. (Naumburg ecology shop), and the Lebenshilfe Naumburg e. V. (counselling centre). The objective is to group and link together these voluntary workers to ensure that the programme for the building has a challenging content and that with the support of the town it is economically viable. The Architektur- und Umwelthaus will become a venue for all those interested. Later, if possible it should establish itself as a national education centre with workshops, school projects, lectures, discussions, film screenings, and exhibitions. Since 2009, guided tours of the town following a special theme have been on offer to visitors and residents. For example, one of these tours, a walk through the historic centre, takes them on a walk to eight renovated buildings, and residents can speak about their experiences of renovation and about the pros and cons of living in the old town. More of these theme walks are planned, starting from the Architektur- und Umwelthaus.



The location of the Architektur- und Umwelthaus was intentionally chosen to be in the Jakobsviertel quarter in the south of the old town. This is a quarter whose landscape is dominated by wasteland and dilapidated empty buildings. The house is planned as a stimulus project to encourage further investment in the district, leading to more jobs—like in the ground-floor café. On the adjacent site in Wenzelsgasse, the “Lebenshilfe” counselling service intends to build a wheelchair-accessible new building with about six housing units for people with or without disabilities. This project is specifically related to the Architektur- und Umwelthaus in which education and employment opportunities will be created for disabled people. Both the projects in Wenzelsgasse could form a nucleus for a new and positive development in the Jakobsviertel.

Although this project has not been going very long, widespread interest in the development of Naumburg is nonetheless discernible. The Bundesstiftung Baukultur, together with Naumburg and its partners, invited people to Naumburg for the launch of the nationwide network campaign “bauTraum” in February 2010. The network must be further extended in order to safeguard the quality of the contents of the programme in the Architektur- und Umwelthaus. Only a lively, multifaceted, and informative programme can carry out the task of strengthening citizen participation in the urban development process by wide-ranging instruction on looking after monuments, and by encouraging the citizens to take more individual initiative and responsibility for the spaces of Naumburg.

Florian Heilmeyer, 2010

More pictures of Naumburg (Saale)


Info: Naumburg (Saale)

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 40.715
2009: 34.711
2025: 27.863 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 129,88 qkm