Kirchliches Wohnungsunternehme

A heritage neighbourhood running on water.

Bamberg, Germany

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When acquiring the “Upper Mills” neighbourhood in the 1970s, Joseph-Stiftung was pursuing the values of sustainability and economy. This guided the idea was to use the river as source of energy as was done in the 12th century. However, it was a major challenge to transport the concept of using water power into the 20th and 21st century with all the challenges and requirements of a modern world. The project turned out to be even more challenging since the neighbourhood is located in the historic centre of Bamberg in the middle of a world heritage. It was therefore necessary to realise the project without distracting visitors’ views from the historic sites i.e. no construction or technical system should be visible. Thus the whole construction had to be developed under water, a complete innovation at that time. Due to these requirements, only about half of the river water flows through the turbines which means an absorption of 27.5 m³ of water per second. It is still an objective to constantly minimise the ecological footprint of the neighbourhood and implement ecological improvements in that area. Hence, it was agreed from early on, that the project should also serve an educational purpose and teach the next generations about sustainability and mindful energy consumption.