World’s oldest social housing scheme celebrates 500th anniversary

Images courtesy of MVRDV
Dutch architect MVRDV has been enlisted to design a pavilion marking the 500th anniversary of the world’s oldest social housing complex, the Fuggerei in Augsburg, southern Germany.

Brainchild of merchant Jakob Fugger, the Fuggerei opened in 1521 and has charged residents a flat yearly rent of one guilder – about €0.88 – ever since.

MVRDV is designing a long, narrow, gabled pavilion outside Augsburg town hall to host talks, debates and other public events. It is scheduled to open on 6 May 2022.

Made from cross-laminated timber, the pavilion’s form is inspired by the Fuggerei, but with a literal twist: at one end it cantilevers up to a height of 8.5m, giving views of the town hall.

A series of talks on social and ecological issues are planned, which will be compiled by MVRDV into the “Fuggerei Code”, intended as a handbook for the future of social housing.

Alexander Graf Fugger-Babenhausen, Fugger Family Senior Council member, said: “From the very beginning the Fuggerei has set standards that have the power to positively change society and provide an innovative answer to urgent social challenges.

“The Fugger idea is for everyone, it knows no boundaries. We invite the world to be part of this anniversary.”

Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV founding partner, said: “The fascinating history of the Fuggerei makes it unlike anything we’ve worked on. It goes to show how diverse housing can be as a topic of exploration; no matter how many approaches you imagine, there are always other ways.”

Images courtesy of MVRDV

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