Historic cities and conservation in Germany: the use of green spaces in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1925-90
City planning -- Germany -- Freiburg im Breisgau Urban renewal -- Germany -- Freiburg im Breisgau Open spaces -- Germany -- Freiburg im Breisgau Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Conservation and restoration Πολεοδομία -- Γερμανία -- Φρειβούργο Αστική ανάπλαση -- Γερμανία -- Φρειβούργο Ανοιχτοί χώροι -- Γερμανία -- Φρειβούργο Φρειβούργο (Γερμανία) -- Κτίρια, κατασκευές κλπ. -- Συντήρηση και αποκατάσταση
Freiburg, at the end of the twentieth century, prides itself on being a 'green' city. In 2002 it was the first city in Germany to elect a 'Green Party' Mayor. These could be seen as outcomes of the decisions taken in the 1960-80 period when the expansion of the city was carefully controlled to preserve the stunning countryside which surrounds the city as well as to encourage people to continue to live in the city centre. But Freiburg did not suddenly hit upon these policies. They were in fact the culmination of long term policies encompassing the whole of the twentieth century, if not even before that. (Haumann, H und Schadek, H (eds) (1992) Geschichte der Stadt Freiburg-im-Breisgau Band 3, Stadt Freiburg, Theiss Verlag). Freiburg handled the crisis of the 1960s -80s so well because it had never espoused a vigorous modernism in the first place. The surprising thing is not that Freiburg had found a way to sustain its urban form and rural hinterland but that this little city became an exemplar of best planning practice at the end of the twentieth century. How it achieved this goal poses certain problems for the historian. Responses to environmental issues are obviously influenced by economic and social factors, but above all, they are the product of specific cultural conditions. (Riordan,C (ed)(1997) Green Thought in German Culture: historical and contemporary perspectives. Cardiff, University of Wales Press). Being a little city in Southern Germany, which did not industrialise, but depended on its university, the Catholic Church (as it was the seat of an influential bishopric) and tourism for its main support, Freiburg was particularly sensitive to cultural shifts. At key points in the 100 years before the 1960s, particular individuals took decisions which were to result in the city becoming a leading light on environmental planning at the end of the 20th century. But there is no clear linear connection between them all. The task is to try and place these turning points in a context which offers an explanation of this outcome and to analyse how a small historic city in southern Germany was able to become the ‘green’ city of the twenty-first century.
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Green spaces in cities since 1918: politics, ideologies, and perceptions