The Star Malaysia - Star2
Sustainable and self-managed house
FOR 10 years, in the German city of Heidelberg, young people have been working on an ambitious project to build from scratch and independently manage a student residence that is both socially responsible and ecological.
The site has now been opened, and the apartments should house nearly 200 students.
With rooms at below market rates, green spaces developed with permaculture techniques and bicycle repair workshops, the Collegium Academicum does not resemble classic student dorms.
Located on the site of a former US hospital in Heidelberg-rohrbach (Germany), this entirely self-managed residence was built, designed and financed by a student association.
With an inner courtyard, this large wooden building is spread over four floors. The apartments are “passive,” ie, they hardly need to be heated or air-conditioned thanks to optimal insulation.
As well as providing sustainable and affordable housing, the project website explains that the initiative is also about “making democracy tangible and promoting cultural and social exchange in an educational context”.
The idea of creating a self-managed and ecological student residence dates back to 2014. It is led by a group of young activists who wanted to revive a similar residence that existed in the city in the 1970s. It will provide “affordable and self-determined living for 176 students, trainees, and doctoral candidates”.
Indeed, one of the main goals of the association’s members was to provide more affordable student housing. At the Collegium Academicum, rooms can be rented for around €350 (RM1,732) per month (compared to €500/ RM2,475) in most other student residences in the city).
Almost 10 years after the project began, the apartments are ready and are finally welcoming their first inhabitants, who arrived Feb 2023.
The project cost around €30mil (Rm148.5mil) and was financed through several sources, such as ethical banks, public subsidies, private funding, personal contributions and sponsorship.
The young founders of the association, many of whom have already completed their studies, are participating on a voluntary basis to support the project.
The residence already plans to grow. Members of the association have acquired two former American military buildings located next to the Collegium Academicum.
These buildings will become spaces for socialising and meetings, and will soon house a self-managed cafe, as well as additional student housing. – AFP Relaxnews