RWTH Researchers Investigated Building Culture and Village Design in the Eifel
January 2009 saw the start of the project “Planning, Building, and Designing – Building Culture and Village Design.” Now, after four years, the project has been completed. It had a volume of 154000 euros and received support from the EU’s LEADER initiative for the development of rural areas.
One of the goals of the LEADER initiative is to preserve and further develop the building-cultural heritage of the Eifel region.
The aim of the present project was to raise awareness of regional building traditions in order to help preserve the unique character of Eifel villages. Such a goal can be achieved, among other things, by raising awareness of traditional regional materials, technologies, and forms of construction, and by promoting the continuation of building traditions using modern technologies, functionalities, and form languages.
New Visions for Villages
As part of the project, several initiatives were started that now make it possible to provide regional administrations, planners, architects, and citizens with products, information and ideas that contribute to achieving the above named goals.
In 2011, the travelling exhibition “Special Features of the Building Culture of the Eifel in NRW” was launched. Also since 2011, the Baukultur Eifel (Eifel Building Culture) website has been providing information on building traditions and presenting examples of local rural building culture.
In workshops and conferences such as the 2011 congress on Regional Building Culture in Rural Areas, planners and representatives from politics and local administrations discussed ways and measures to strengthen regional building cultures.
Involvement of Students and School Teachers
Also, there were several initiatives to involve university and school students in the project. RWTH students developed strategies and concepts for the further development of villages in the Eifel region and presented their ideas in front of audiences of the local inhabitants. Together with school teachers, a concept to introduce the topic of building culture into geography lessons was developed.
Guidebook on “Building in the NRW Eifel Region”
As part of the project, a 300-page guidebook on “Building in the NRW Eifel Region” was published.
According to project leader Professor Rolf Westerheide, “the promotion of building culture must continue after completion of the project. Builders, citizens, and all responsible actors in the rural Eifel areas must promote ‘building culture’ through further ideas and activities.”
Project Coordination and Participants
The project was coordinated by the Institute for Urban Design and Regional Planning at RWTH Aachen, headed by Professor Rolf Westerheide. Participants of the project included the Aachen City Region ("StädteRegion Aachen"), the Districts of Düren and Euskirchen, and the LEADER branch of the Eifel region, together with representatives from the involved cities and communities. The LEADER project involved 15 Eifel communities and cities in the Aachen City Region and the above named districts, encompassing 275 villages.