Economically depressed and the site of a tragic school shooting in 2009, the small German suburb of Winnenden didn't have much appeal despite its low home prices and proximity to Stuttgart. But an award-winning eco-friendly development is turning the town in a new direction.
While that claim may be difficult to verify, the ecological city design was named the 1st place winner last month of the prestigious Green Dot award for 2011 in the "Build" category. And there's no disputing that Arkadien Winnenden, which was completed last year under the management of developer Strenger Bauen & Wohnen and is already fully occupied by both homeowners and renters, is full of great green innovations.
Formerly home to an abandoned factory, the site's contaminated soil was remediated and recycled, as was existing concrete. Each house in the neighborhood has a high energy-efficiency rating and priority was given to non-toxic, locally sourced materials during construction. The competitively priced homes are connected by pedestrian-friendly streets and shared public spaces, though they also have private gardens, terraces, and roof gardens.
Lake Filters Rainwater
The attractive lake in the center of Arkadien Winnenden isn't just there for looks; it "doubles as a rainwater detention basin, capturing and filtering rain water in a stepped system, before overflowing to a flood meadow and slow releasing to the adjacent ecologically restored stream."
The use of permeable pavers and "structural bearing soil substrate for garden-like parking spaces" reduced impermeable surfaces in the development from 95 percent to 30 percent of its overall area, further reducing flood risk, a major problem in the Stuttgart area.
Walking Distance To Town, Schools, And The Train
All these features, however, can't make a neighborhood truly "green" unless it's tied to the surrounding community in a way that discourages excessive car use. Arkadien Winnenden hits the mark here too: It's located just a 10-minute walk from the local town center, schools at all grade levels, and a train station, meaning commuters can get to Stuttgart in less than 30 minutes.