Project Sangerhausen

Rating – Livable Neighbourhoods

The mining and rose-growing town of Sangerhausen has set itself the task of designing modern and attractive urban areas. The starting point for the urban redevelopment measures in Sangerhausen within the context of the IBA Urban Redevelopment 2010 was a site evaluation (micro-location rating). This drew attention to the attractiveness of houses and sites, to the tenancy patterns and social structures, and to the state of the market. These factors form the basis for upgrading the developable, viable parts of the town by means of deliberate demolition, design, and building measures. The objective is not merely to consolidate individual parts of town but also to strengthen the local community. In so doing, Sangerhausen not only attempted to raise the profile of the residential areas and help them adjust to demographic change, but also tried to use sustainable and environmentally friendly building methods.


German reunification in 1989/90 brought profound upheavals to Sangerhausen. Mining finally ceased in 1990. In 1885, after eight hundred years of mining for copper it had stopped because it was unprofitable and many people left the town to seek new jobs. In 1951, mining was restarted to make the GDR independent from imported copper. With the closure, Sangerhausen lost almost one third of its population and had only 21,579 inhabitants by mid-2009. Consequently, some estates of prefabricated concrete block housing had high vacancy rates in 1999. A steering group was founded in 1999 to deal with this threatening situation for the housing sector. This was formed from the town housing association (SWG) and the Sangerhausen housing cooperative (WGS) together with the town. It framed the urban development concept and coordinated the demolition, which began that same year. The steering group’s integrated urban development concept won first prize in the 2002 Urban Restructuring in East Germany competition. The concept focused on three strategies: reconstruction and image of the architectural structures of the town, upgrading the available housing and corporate structure, and supporting the participation of the citizens of Sangerhausen in redesigning their town.


The IBA-ARGE, a working group, was formed from the steering group, originally with the motto “Together for Sangerhausen.” This united public and private partners from the housing sector, infrastructure companies, the social sector, citizens, and administration. Until the year 2000, urban development focused on renovating the old town. Because World War II had left it relatively unharmed, the history of Sangerhausen is evident in the existing well-preserved buildings. The old town centre, under monument protection, includes, among other things, the corn market, the market and town hall, Renaissance patrician houses, and St .Ulrich’s Church. The latter, the oldest building in the town, is a Romanesque three-aisled basilica. It is also a stopping place on Saxony-Anhalt’s “Strasse der Romanik” (Romanesque route). Sangerhausen is, however, much older than this, having been founded by the Franks in the 6th century. Its first town charter dates from 1204.

Since 2000, the post-war urban expansion zones have been the focus of attention. Sangerhausen has had the complete range of housing types since the 1950s. The SWG and WGS together with the welfare sector developed services to improve the quality of life of two target groups. The two groups identified were the elderly and families with young children. These services were offered by neighbourhood and tenants’ centres. They not only encourage citizens to participate, but they also cause the housing sector and voluntary services to rethink and open up new avenues of cooperation. In all renovation and building projects, great emphasis was placed on wheelchair-accessible housing. Whilst the town centre areas are to be strengthened, the houses in the suburbs will be demolished.


The most outstanding IBA project is on the “Am Bergmann” estate, the centre of the Westsiedlung (western estate). This is a 1950s socialist-style estate where four buildings have been renovated in accordance with the monument protection rules. The aim was to improve living comfort, for example by the inclusion of conservatories and lifts, but still retain as much of the original building as possible. An innovative energy supply system using solar energy and heat recovery helps to reduce energy costs.

A multigenerational house has been built in Südsiedlung (the southern estate), an estate dating from between 1961 and 1963. This provides communal wheelchair-accessible housing for the elderly and for young families. The building, was designed in cooperation with the prospective tenants and also houses the so-called service point, a neighbourhood centre for people of all ages. The service point was funded by the “Socially Integrative City” federal-state programme and is run by a social sector organisation.

In Südwestsiedlung (the south-west estate), an estate built between 1963 and 1974, the slogan “Living in the community” was used. A local centre, run jointly by the SWG and AWO (Worker's Welfare Association), is available for tenants and residents from the whole housing estate. The project received money, for example, from a funding competition run by the State of Saxony-Anhalt.


In the Othaler Weg estate, dating from the late 1980s, the IBA decided to focus on setting up a tenant's centre (MIEZ). The housing association and the public welfare institutions jointly devised this. It is primarily meant to enable older citizens to remain in their own homes longer and to live in a normal social environment. MIEZ is run by Project 3 e. V.—a social sector organisation—in cooperation with the MitBürger e. V association. The renovation of the Am Bergmann estate is praised as being particularly successful. The designs were chosen by means of a competition.

A further IBA project is the Kumpel-Plätze, or local squares, initiated by the MitBürger e. V. These were jointly planned by the town, citizens, landscape architects and an artist. The name of the squares is a pun on Sangerhausen’s past as a mining town as well as the squares’ function as a meeting place for old and young. (“Kumpel” means both miner and mate in German.) The first square in the Westsiedlung opened in 2007, followed in 2008 by the second in Othaler Weg. The so-called Bergmannslade (miner’s ark) is buried in a shaft under the Kumpel-Platz in the Westsiedlung. This is a capsule in a pit where the history of the area and current events are documented. The capsule is to be lifted out annually and its contents updated.

Petra Frese, 2010

Design Kumpelplatz Westsiedlung


Därr Landschaftsarchitekten; August 2007

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Design Kumpelplatz Othaler Weg


Därr Landschaftsarchitekten; April 2008

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More pictures of Sangerhausen


Info: Sangerhausen

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 43.823
2009: 30.399
2025: 22.368 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 207,64 qkm

IBA-Website of Sangerhausen