There are many village communities that are successfully sniffing out future trends while breathing in all that fresh air. Somewhere between farming land and the horizon, broadband cables and wind power, exciting new ways of life are being born. Long live urban villages!
Every major movement is swiftly followed by a forward-looking counter-movement. According to Michel Foucault, that’s how things go naturally based on the mechanisms of society. Uckermark, Bavarian Forest, Schwäbisch Hall. The urbanization of villages follows on from the boom in urban living. Whether it’s abo ut rediscovery or revival, we are witnessing the phenomenon of provinces being revitalized more and more. And so villages, communities, and small towns are benefiting from large cities becoming too densely populated. This all comes down to provinces being able to offer two things that are long gone in metropolitan megacities: open space and freedom.
It goes without saying that these places of opportunity, and indeed their very creation, depend on new forms of technology, shared mobility, and high-speed Internet as driving forces that make information and transportation available to all. All of these factors alter the rural landscape, transforming barren areas away from crowded cities into relaxed places boasting a new level of quality of life complete with educational, cultural, and leisure opportunities, and real estate at comparatively low prices. It’s no surprise, then, that more people in Germany are currently leaving the big cities than moving into them for the first time in 20 years. The distinctions between city and countryside, center and suburbs, culture and nature are disappearing. Rural and urban are becoming more closely related over time. Digital forms of work are making urban villages possible and even encouraging their creation, with commuters traveling in both directions.
Let’s take Fürstenberg as an example. This city by the water in the Oberhavel district of Brandenburg with just under 4000 inhabitants in its center has been transformed from a purely tourist region thanks to ideas and input from creative local pioneers. In fact, you could say it’s on its way to reinventing village life. The cinema in the Alte Reederei cultural area has been there for some time and a makerspace was set up in what used to be the waiting room at the train station in 2018 and it’s still going to this day. Verstehbahnhof Fürstenberg is the name given to the initiative being run by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the team at havel:lab. With the program including college for kids and youth hacking events, this location featuring guest rooms, a cycle
hire service, and a café holds the promise of exciting new prospects for the region, and cultural life and interaction.
Traditionally, it has mainly been architects, journalists, programmers, academics, artists, and other creative types that have been attracted to rural areas. The co-village concept put forward by Frederik Fischer demonstrates how provinces can take on a pioneering role. “I long for a place that offers me peace without the loneliness, where I can live as part of a community without having to give up my sense of privacy,” wrote the journalist in his call* to create new villages in 2018. As far as Fischer is concerned, “co-villages disprove the stereotype that rural life is dull.” In his mind, there is potential scope for development in the remotest of areas. “But we want to make sure that co-villages are established separately from existing villages to avoid them being forced awkwardly into long-established structures where they may not be welcome. They are open to everyone but we don’t want to be forcing people to accept them.”
Alternative ways of life and concepts of modern life like this are gaining in self-awareness. Urban landscapes are being created without any doctrines or outdated rules to follow. Clever marketing campaigns are enticing companies and residents. State-of-the-art technology and buildings that have been designed with care give the colorful, diverse, complex, and dynamic world in which we live a home. Why don’t we decide where the next village is going to be born together? We look forward to hearing from you!